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MUSIC

Lost Bayou Ramblers ambling to White Water

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published November 8, 2012 at 2:26 a.m.

— Based outside Lafayette, La., Cajun rockers The Lost Bayou Ramblers have been rambling around since 2001, when the band released its debut album, Pilette Breakdown.

Five more albums have come out since then, the most recent of which, Mammoth Waltz, was released April 17, and features a number of special guests, including Dr. John and actress/singer Scarlett Johansson.

The album was produced by the group’s former guitarist, Korey Richey, who recently left the band to help engineer a project for Arcade Fire, a noted group in another French-oriented land, Montreal, Quebec.

Louis Michot (fiddle and lead vocals) and his brother, Andre Michot (accordion and lap steel guitar) grew up in Pilette, between Lafayette and Broussard, La. The Michots are the mainstays of the band, whose songs are predominantly French, reports Louis Michot.

“We do have a guitar player who sings an occasional English tune,” Michot says. “We mostly do originals, not exactly typical Cajun music, but kind of a classic rock vibe, or almost a psychedelic rock experience on the dance floors.”

The band incorporates elements of punk rock, rockabilly and Western swing; however, most music fans will hear familiar sounds eventually and maybe proceed to shake a tail feather as a result. Though most of the songs are originals, there are the occasional covers, which include French versions of The Who’s “My Generation” and The Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun.”

It was a special treat when the leader of The Violent Femmes, Gordon Gano, got up on stage, took up a fiddle and joined Michot in performing the song.

“It was really cool learning it from him,” Michot says. “He was supposed to join us in New York recently, but Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of us to change our plans last week.”

The Lost Bayou Ramblers’ music can be heard in a recent film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won the Sundance grand jury prize in January. The film is about the struggles of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy in dealing with her father’s illness. The band also was nominated for a Grammy Award four years ago, but lost out to Terrance Simien, with whom Michot recently worked.

“It was the first year the Grammys had a category for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music, but they stopped having it a couple of years ago,” Michot says. “It’s just called regional music or something now. It was great working with Terrance, though. He was doing a Beatles’ song, ‘In My Life,’ and I think it was the recording debut of his daughter, Marcella.”

Michot found himself featured in The New York Times on July 4 this year, but not for musical reasons. The “At Home With ...” story was headlined “Song Man With a New Metier,” and focused on Michot’s yearslong struggle to build a new home for his wife and himself, using 600 pounds of Spanish moss gathered from the live oak trees found in Cajun country.

“We actually only used the Spanish moss on a main wall, although I did build the whole house myself,” he says. “It was an experience kind of like our music, where we took old technology that’s readily available and used it for something new. It took me about five years to finish it, but we moved in after two years of living in a camper.

“My wife was quite pleased to make that transition, believe me.”

The Lost Bayou

Ramblers

9 p.m. today, White Water Tavern, West Seventh and Thayer streets, Little Rock

Admission: $5

(501) 375-8400

Weekend, Pages 44 on 11/08/2012

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