by Dan Wilging
You never know what is going to happen at a Balfa Folk Roots music camp. Kristi Guillory (accordion) and Yvette Landry (bass) knew they were in the midst of a transcendent jam but their jaws literally dropped when afterwards, Christine Balfa remarked, “I want to be in a band with you!” Balfa must recognize chemistry when she sees it because with the addition of fiddler Anya Burgess, everything seems to be a natural fit. Like the Cajun super group Racines, whose members hail from several Lafayette ensembles, the members of Bonsoir, Catin (BSC) also play in the Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Magnolia Sisters and Balfa Toujours as their primary gigs.
Even though BSC is coincidentally mostly an all-women’s group (male drummer Jude Veillon heats the beat), they never wear their femininity on their sleeve. Instead, they sing about battered old trucks, jukeboxes, rambling from place to place and boozing it up so much that the Prozac wears off. They aren’t afraid to rock their instrumentals (“Tiger Rag Blues”) or pound their waltzes (“mémoires dans mon coeur”). With guest Terry Huval’s tasty steel guitar, they gang tackle several numbers that fall on the country side of Cajun. Guillory sings in a gusty, uninhibited voice while Balfa’s projecting, piercing vocals have been missing from recordings for too long.
Yet, as much as they fit the mold of a Saturday night dancehall band, what’s even more intriguing is the stuff Guillory, whose day job is a university archivist, folds into their repertoire. “La Sainte Catherine,” originally an a cappella ballad culled from the Lomax archives, is transformed here into a full band arrangement. Another hidden track, “dans mon chemin,” is another such Lomax discovery. Just by chance, Guillory was singing it in the studio when producer Dirk Powell pounced on piano, making it sound like something from ancient Nova Scotia, the ancestral home of the Cajuns. Like the songs they transform and perform, BSC is among the newer bands breathing life into Cajun music.