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Hang on to Your Chapeau

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    6
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This disc is aptly named, and once you slide it into the player you'd better make sure your hat is snug down and you've got a good grip. This band is outstanding, and this disc is representative of their material at this point in their evolution. When they first started they were a band bent on preserving the music as it was put down, but soon they realized the intent of the music was far more important and they let it fly with great abandon. What made the music so important to them was the tradition it represented, and a vital part of that tradition was a freedom that encouraged expression of individuality -- thus, they were a revitalized band that was no longer rigidly holding to a tradition. The roots pervade all that is here: people such as Canray Fontenot (who they toured with), Dennis McGee, and Amede´ Ardion. Also evident are the blues of David Egan (who also plays with Lil' Band of Gold) and the South American influences of D'Jalma Garnier . This band does not seem to tour and play too much as an entity, and they are not widely known, yet they are cited by many as being one of the most influential bands playing Cajun and creole music. They do it by preserving the intention of, and spirit of, the music. They are named for the powdered spice that is made from sassafras, which is a main seasoning in the cooking of both the French and African cultures. This cross-cultural fusion is reflected in their music, which is further heightened by their eclectic interests. Just give a listen to their take of the Jimmy Driftwood classic "The Battle of New Orleans," done as a Cajun two-step. This is one of their finest discs to date; their songs represent all their various influences but are played tightly by the band at a peak time. All these various influences are blended into a whole and the disc stands as a strong entity, more than the sum of its parts. Those interested will have to work to track it down, but this one is worth all the effort. The band produced this disc themselves and the sound quality is excellent.

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