Cajun and zydeco supergroup The Revelers are set to perform at Harrison Memorial Hall on their latest tour of Western Canada and the American Northwest, Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. This show will be the first one to feature a new sound system recently purchased by the festival society.
The Revelers include founding members of the Red Stick Ramblers and The Pine Leaf Boys, who have been called “unquestionably the two groups at the vanguard of the Louisiana cultural renaissance.” While they draw heavily on more traditional Cajun and zydeco styles, the music of The Revelers combines those two classic Louisiana genres with swamp-sop, country, and blues to create a powerful tonic of roots music that could only come from southwest Louisiana.
The Harrison Festival Artistic Director, Andy Hillhouse, notes that The Revelers’ music is distinct from the Louisiana sounds that Harrison audiences experienced with Vancouver’s Cannery Row last September. “Whereas Cannery Row plays a piano-based, funky type of New Orleans music, such as you would hear in the music of Dr. John, The Revelers are drawing on pure zydeco and Cajun music that comes from the countryside, and mixing it with blues and rock. Their music is driven by the groove of the accordion and fiddle, with saxophone, electric guitars, and drums as well,” says Hillhouse.
Cajun and zydeco are both rooted in the Francophone music and culture of the Acadian settlers who were expelled from the Maritime provinces in the late 1700s. Whereas Cajun is generally more laid back in feel, zydeco and swamp pop music draw on rhythm and blues to create a joyful, exciting feel.
The depth of The Revelers has developed from digging deep into the dancehall traditions of Southwest Louisiana and emerging with an arsenal they call Louisiana Jukebox Music. Music critics are wont to categorize music into clear genre styles, but that’s not really the way folk traditions develop. The Revelers have embraced that musical truth in a way few bands have—the lines between genres are blurred, and wide-ranging styles are honed into an extremely cohesive performance.
Hillhouse is excited to have this dynamic band showcase the festival’s new sound system. “We are going digital with our sound board, and have acquired some new, up to date speakers,” he says.
“Audiences will notice improved fidelity in the hall, the whole system will be lighter in weight for employees and volunteers to manage, and sound technicians and musicians will be happy with the improved capabilities, which all makes for strong performances. Come on out and hear it in action!”