Filet Gumbo Rock

By Dallas Embry

In south central Louisiana, about sixty miles south of Alexandria, in Evangeline Parish, is the town of Mamou. In an area known for exporting cotton, soybeans, cattle and com, it is not hard to predict that it will become known for another export, which takes its name from the town.

That export is the band Mamou, which plays mostly traditional Cajun tunes, with a little zydeco and a little country thrown in here and there.

Even though they play traditional songs and most of the lyrics are in the Acadian patois, they are hardly a traditional or, for that matter, conventional group, as they proved with a foot-stomping, body-shaking, hard-to-keep-from-dancing performance. With Steve Lafleur on hot-rock guitar and vocals, Joe Fontenot on hotwalldng bass, Kevin Sonnier on solid drums and Jonno Frishberg on electric/acoustic violin and button accordion, these folks kick out the jams whether it be on "Orange Blossom Special" or "Jolie Blonde."

This isn't Zachary Richard pop-zydeco or zydecajun it's hard-driving rock done Cajun style. The authenticity of true Cajun music is heard in the squeezebox and fiddle of Frishberg, which sets the beat for the rest of the guys. At other times, using a foot-pedal and feedback, he can scream along with Lafleur's Stratocaster in a duet des psychedelic that's fantastic.

Lafleur, who pens a lot of the songs that Mamou does, sings in a voice reminiscent of David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and plays screaming Fender Stratocaster and bass guitars.

Songs like "La Louisiane," "Un Homme De Pitie," and "Be' Be; Catin," "Bayou Teche," "Les Flammes D'Enfer," and "Tit Galop Pour Mamou" prove that you don't have to understand a word of French to get down and party with these dudes from the prairie land of Louisiana.

When they did "Orange Blossom Special," a hot fiddle tune, no matter how rewed up the fiddle got, the rest of the band could rev up even more. It's usually the other way around. They also performed a Cajun/rock version of Hank Williams Sr.'s "Jambalaya," which he would have loved.

It might have been twelve degrees outside, but inside Uncle P's, the hot 'n' spicy filet gumbo rock of Mamou kept the heat on all night and they will surely do the same the next time they make it to town.