If you liked High Performance – Live From Breaux Bridge: Part 1, which I reviewed earlier this year, then the odds are better than even that you'll like a new release from the folks at Swallow Records, the Cajun/Zydeco music specialists, because it's pretty much more of the same.
High Performance – Live From Breaux Bridge: Part 2 is 16 additional tracks, and that's good for those of us who like it. If you're not a fan of Cajun/zydeco music, then you probably haven't read this far anyway — but how can you not like the bouncing, lively sounds of the bayous? Sheesh.
The musicians are pretty much the same guys, all talented veterans with ties to other groups, but who like to get together under the High Performance name and offer up their brand of super-charged retro music. The mainstays of the group are Steve Riley, Kevin Dugas, Jamey Bearby, Jason Bergeron, Richard Comeaux, and Brazos Huval. Guest artists include a couple of additional members of the Dugas family — brother Michael and papa Nolan — along with Scott Ardoin and Paul “Bird” Delafose.
This album was recorded at Mulate's in Breaux Bridge (a place I've been known to visit) but the group also appears from time to time at events like the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. Included among the tracks are some good pieces with a traditional sound, such as "Tous les temps en temps," featuring Steve Riley up front, and "Lafayette Two-Step," an instrumental named after a city that is at the heart of Cajun Country.
But not every track adheres to the expected. There are also a couple of surprises, including Merle Haggard's honky-tonkin' song, "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," well-handled here with real twang by fiddler Jamey Bearb, who also does a good job with Conway Twitty's "Together Forever."
And finally, for pure Cajun heart-and-soul tug, you'd be hard-put to improve on papa Nolan Dugas' lead on his own "Wait Until I Finish Crying." Good stuff from the swamps and bayous of South Louisiana.