BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet is “the best Cajun band in the world,” according to Garrison Keillor (A Prairie Home Companion), and dance audiences definitely second that opinion. BeauSoleil loves to play for dancers at Ashkenaz, and turns tonight into a Cajun celebration of Ashkenaz’s anniversary: “40 Years Dancing for Peace,” joined by Marley’s Ghost, another American music group that excels in molding well-known songs from other sources (gospel, Bob Marley, Dylan) to its unique sound.
In addition to its truckload of favorites, BeauSoleil presents songs from its just-issued album, “From Bamako to Carencro,” an engaging set of inventive originals and creatively reimagined classics, including a Creole cover of James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy” and John Coltrane’s swing tune “Bessie’s Blues.”
Launched in 1975 by Louisiana fiddle great Michael Doucet, BeauSoleil is the world’s most popular Cajun band, having played in every state of the Union and 33 countries, and racked up a trophy room full of awards including two Grammys. The ensemble takes Doucet’s Louisiana Cajun roots (which he plays in more traditional form in the Savoy-Doucet Band) and artfully blends elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues, and more into a satisfying and irresistibly danceable musical recipe. BeauSoleil championed the popularization of Louisiana’s indigenous French-language dance music in the 1970s and ’80s, helping turn a near-derogatory term, “Cajun,” into a label of pride for members of its Southwest Louisiana culture.
Doucet and band have performed in such films as “Belizaire the Cajun” and “The Big Easy” and the acclaimed documentary “American Roots Music.” They have also collaborated on record with, among others, Mary-Chapin Carpenter (her No. 1 hit “Down at the Twist and Shout”), Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, English rock guitarist Richard Thompson, and the Grateful Dead. BeauSoleil has long been a Bay Area favorite, recording a series of popular and award-winning albums for El Cerrito’s Arhoolie Records. Along with Doucet on fiddle, guitar, accordion, mandolin, and vocals, BeauSoleil features his guitarist-singer brother David Doucet, accordionist Jimmy Breaux, drummer Tommy Alesi, percussionist Billy Ware, and Mitch Reed on bass, fiddle, banjo, and electric guitar.
In its first Ashkenaz appearance in more than a decade, Marley’s Ghost helps us celebrate our 40 years just after the indescribable combo marked its first quarter of a century. Even the members of the band have trouble describing their music, but they all know whatever they do, it always comes out sounding uniquely like Marley’s Ghost. Guitarist Mike Phelan says it’s the vocals. Steel guitarist Ed Littlefield says it’s the broad repertoire. Guitarist Dan Wheetman just calls it American roots music, if you count reggae – and why wouldn't you? The group is rounded out by Jerry Fletcher on keyboard and accordion and mandolin player Jon Wilcox.
After more than 25 years of making music together, recording nine albums, and performing thousands of shows nationally and internationally, Marley’s Ghost remains one of the best-kept secrets of the acoustic music world, an untapped natural resource waiting to be discovered. Its 25th Anniversary CD “Jubilee” features Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Marty Stuart, Larry Campbell, Cowboy Jack Clement (who produced it), and Old Crow Medicine Show.
When & Where
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).