The field recordings on this CD, comprising 27 tracks and half a dozen acts, were recorded and edited between 1964 and 1967 by Ralph Rinzler. (Note that although the disc is subtitled "The Newport Field Recordings, 1964-1967," they were not taped at the Newport Folk Festival; they're so named as they were supported by the Newport Folk Foundation.) This was an era in which Cajun music was far less known internationally than it would be in a few decades' time. Thus these performances were more historically important, and (at least to the popular music mainstream) exotic, than they would be to knowledgeable roots music fans of later generations. Although the musicians were recorded in informal circumstances (and sometimes in their homes), the fidelity is clear if a little variable, and the performances relaxed. While this CD compilation can't capture the spectrum of Cajun and Creole music within its 75 minutes, it does present a variety of styles associated with the genre. The Balfa Frères play casual full-band arrangements with fiddles, guitar, accordion, and triangle; Austin Pitre & the Evangeline Playboys modernize things with some electric guitar and drums; and Edius Naquin brings things back to their most elemental with just vocal and fiddle. Dewey Balfa, one of the more renowned Cajun musicians, is heard both as part of the Balfa Frères and (on triangle) as accompanist to the more stripped-down duo of Adam & Cyprien Landreneau, who feature just vocals, fiddle, and accordion. Overall, the material is on the more traditional side of the styles and of more interest to folkloric-oriented audiences than more casual festival-going ones, but not without its entertainment value regardless of your level of scholarly curiosity. Note that far more extensive liner notes than the relatively brief ones in the CD booklet -- running to 84 pages and including French and English lyrics, as well as numerous photos -- are in a folder that can be accessed by putting the disc in a computer drive.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger