Rejuvenating the classic American music traditions of Cajun, country and Tex-Mex, Bayou Seco comprises Ken Keppeler (b. Los Angeles, California, USA; accordion), Jeanie McLerie (b. New Jersey, USA; fiddle) and Frannie Leopold (b. New York, USA; guitar). The latter pair also record as the Delta Sisters. McLerie grew up listening to old-time music on West Virginian radio station WWVA Wheeling, and was particularly influenced by the Carter Family. In the 50s she taught James Taylor how to fingerpick the guitar, before moving to Paris for her final year of college in 1962. There she dropped out of studies at the Sorbonne and formed a street singing duo with Sandy Darlington. They moved to London in 1964, remaining there for three years and performing together as Sandy And Jeannie. Leopold too grew up in the left-field folk tradition, taking her main influences from the likes of Lead Belly, the Almanac Singers and the Weavers. After moving to Mendocino County she began to busk, meeting McLerie in 1974. Keppeler’s father was an old-time singer who played harmonica, and his uncle was also a renowned singer (Vincente Guereca). In the late 50s he learned the mandolin and began to play in bluegrass bands, before joining the army during the Vietnam war. His first permanent band was the Hogwood String Band who toured Germany in the mid-70s. Returning to Louisiana in 1978 he met McLerie, temporarily playing together in Beausoleil and forming a romantic attachment. Though they enjoyed the musical climate of Louisiana they were forced to relocate their home to New Mexico owing to McLerie’s medical condition (an allergy to mould and mildew). They continued their quest to explore musical folklore, learning Spanish colonial dance tunes as part of the Cleofes Ortiz Band. Bayou Seco originated when the duo were joined by Leopold, with the Delta Sisters also growing out of this arrangement. Their work is expressly directed towards rekindling interest in forgotten traditionalists such as Ortiz and Dennis McGee.
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