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Tom Rigney & Flambeau w/ Special Guest Michael Doucet plus Dance Lesson

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Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center

1317 San Pablo Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94702

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He may have been crowned Emperor of the 2011 Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, but violinist-fiddler-composer and singer Tom Rigney and his band Flambeau have always been royalty at Ashkenaz. When not globetrotting – last year they covered ground from Alaska to Alviso Slough to a Caribbean New Year’s cruise – they hold court here almost monthly, playing Rigney’s own tunes and their usual high-energy mix of Louisiana Cajun, zydeco, New Orleans R&B, and down-home blues favorites. Some songs are pulled from the recent CD/DVD recorded at the Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom, “Swamp Fever – Live at Three Stages,” whose video was part of the 2015 PBS series “Music Gone Public.” Featured songs range from “Iko Iko” to “Orange Blossom Special” and “C’est la Vie.”

What sets Rigney and Flambeau apart is Rigney’s fresh musical takes on Cajun and zydeco, and other styles he loves to play from rock to classical, creating a celebration of life through dance rhythms. Flambeau is a tight ensemble of virtuoso musicians, with guitarist Danny Caron (Charles Brown’s bandleader; he and Rigney met when both backed up Rockin’ Sidney in the ’80s), boogie-woogie keyboardist Caroline Dahl, bassist and singer Steve Parks, and drummer Brent Rampone.

Following a family tradition, Doucet played music from his earliest years, mastering banjo at the age of five and guitar at eight. Like others of the era he was influenced by rock music, although Cajun music was ever-present. Doucet played in folk rock bands with his cousin, Zachary Richard, at the age of 12, then joined a Cajun rock group. In 1974, he and Richard visited France and after his return to the USA he learned violin, which quickly became his principal instrument. He also still plays guitar as well as mandolin and accordion, and he also sings.

Deeply influenced by older musicians, such as Amédé Ardoin and especially Dennis McGee who became a friend, Doucet and a group of like-minded friends formed a band in 1975, naming it Coteau. He also formed BeauSoleil with Kenneth Richard and Sterling Richard in 1977. With BeauSoleil, Doucet blended elements of traditional Cajun music with zydeco, adding hints of jazz, blues and country. In 2005, Doucet and BeauSoleil received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and in 2007 were awarded a United States Artists Grant. The band has been nominated many times for a Grammy award and won for Best Traditional Folk Album with 1997’s L’Amour Ou La Folie. Among many pieces Doucet has composed for his band are ‘Chanson D’Acadie’, ‘Bunk’s Blues’, ‘Conja’, ‘Newz Reel’, ‘Quelle Belle Vie’, ‘L’Ouragon’ and ‘Freeman’s Zydeco’, the latter in collaboration with Freeman Fontenot.

Doucet has performed frequently in concert and on record in a trio, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, with Marc Savoy and Ann Savoy. He has also worked with Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger and Rushad Eggleston as Fiddlers 4, and recorded several solo albums. Since 1977, Doucet has been involved in education and has been adjunct professor at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette.

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Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center

1317 San Pablo Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94702

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