Written by Fantasma el Rey
When I think of Cajun music I think of a real old-school barber I knew who went by the name Frenchy and was born and made frequent trips back to Louisiana. A very lively fellow was Frenchy and he would always have good Cajun music playing as you walked into to get your hair cut. Most times as you were seated, he would offer you a beer. Back in the day, I was just a kid of 21 and got a hoot out of it. Steve Riley And The Mamou Playboys are a band that I think ol’ Frenchy would have enjoyed and he probably knew all about them, seeing as how they have been on the scene since 1988.
The Mamou Playboys carry on the tradition of Cajun music and add spices of their own to kick it up a bit and get the crowd moving. When they started in ’88, they where a group of young men lead by Steve Riley, who was nineteen, that wanted to play and sound just like the old timers they loved so much. As they gigged around and improved on their sound they began to add more of their other musical influences to forge a sound that is modern yet traditional at the same time. These Playboys have done it well for twenty years now and make it stick to your ears like gumbo to your ribs. The band has gone through a few members in their time, replacing some here and there as needed do to death or departures. This 31-track best-of set is a great way to get to know Steve Riley And The Mamou Playboys and what they do well.
The Cajun sound is solid throughout featuring accordion, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and bass and the triangle for percussion, but the Playboys take it beyond, adding some rock and roll flavor to the mix with the way the electric guitars, bass, and thundering drums are delivered. Classic Cajun jump tunes abound in the likes of “Evangeline Waltz Two-Step,” “Pointe Aux Chenes (Pine Point),” “Laisse-Moi Connaître (Let Me Know),” “Lawrence Walker Medley ” and “Between Eunice and Opelousas,” the later two tunes being instrumental gold. They can even hit you with Southern rock as they do well on “Menteur (Liar).”