Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

Live Shots

Live Shots
Photo By John Anderson

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

The Oaks, May 25

If you have a problem with the "mallification" of the once-great venue known as the Backyard, and lots of people do, then look east. Just outside Manor, the Oaks is intimate and laid-back. With shade trees, a concrete patio, and a muddy parking lot, it could be someone's back yard. They were even selling gumbo and étouffée in honor of the Mamou Playboys. Against a slate-colored sky, the Lousiana quintet laid out two wide-ranging sets of Cajun music and, in the process, kept the assembled dancing. It's the reason they were there, after all. This was the case when a young woman approached this writer, a decided nondancer, and asked if I knew how to waltz. Riley – accordion on his hip, devilish smile on his youthful face – kept it surprisingly traditional, covering tunes by Cajun forefathers with surnames like Menard, Fontenot, and Balfa. They also delved into some swamp-pop, with fiddler David Greely picking up his saxophone, and some blues. The only English-spoken tune of the evening was Lazy Lester's "I Hear You Knockin'." In the recent past, Riley attempted a more contemporary, rock-leaning sound on albums, and there was just a little of that. But the main combination of fiddle and accordion, a rhythm constantly moving forward with robust harmonies, was proof why the Mamou Playboys are considered some of the finest at what they do. Combined with the down-home atmosphere, it made this a Friday night dance party, a near-perfect way to begin a holiday weekend.

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Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys

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