By Dominick Cross
Can you say “Bonsoir Catin.”Good.
Do you know what it means? Roughly translated, it means “sassy little girl.” I have to admit, the name does have sass.
And once you know who’s in the band, you’ll know it’ll have class: Kristi Guillory, accordion; Christine Balfa, guitar; Anya Schoenegge, fiddle; and Yvette Landry, bass. Then again, they’ll probably swap instruments during a gig.
The idea for the group had a couple of inspirational moments. One of the more-genteel ones happened at the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole heritage Week at Chicot State Park.“
We got together at Chicot—it was one of those by-the-bonfire moments—we were sitting around there talking,” Guillory said.
You can also throw in a serious case of performance envy.“
It’s been almost eight years since I’ve really picked up an accordion and took off with it,” said Guillory, who played accordion in her bend Reveille until school, a child and a job took prominence in her life.
And Balfa, who know has two children, has spent more time with them than her band, Balfa Toujours.“
We were talking about how much fun it would be to get together and have some girlfriends and play some music,” Guillory said. “Actually, play it in a style that rocks out.”
By “rocks out,” Guillory means honky-tonk.“
It’ll be a little bit more honky-tonk. It’ll be Cajun music, but sort of with that driving beat that Christine and I like to play,” she said. “A real strong dance beat.”
But a primary source of their inspiration to form the all-woman band lies in an experience Balfa had at a store.
“Somebody had introduced (Balfa) as Dewey Balfa’s daughter,” Guillory said. “And the guy said something like ‘Since he didn’t have a son, Christine had to take up the music.’
That coupled with another time when Balfa was pregnant, and Balfa Toujours was playing at Whiskey River. Somebody asked if she was having a boy or a girl; Balfa told the inquiring mind it would be a girl. “
And the guy said something like, ‘Maybe the next one will be a musician,’” Guillory said.
Welcome to the 19th century, eh?
It’s that same attitude of a bunch of girls playing music and we’re not gong to be as good or as well-versed as the men,” she said.
So with that for fodder as well, the women decided that, since both Balfa and Guillory have girls, “we kind of want to let our little girls see us play music, and, you know, see that it’s cool,” Guillory said.“
All of our generation are having kids now. And a lot of musicians we know have daughters.
“So, it’s sort of a quasi-feminist movement, you know,” she said with a laugh.“
On the other hand, we’re all good friends and want to have something to do together and hang out and play some tunes.”
Guillory did emphasize that the group wants people to come out to hear the band, not because they’re women, but because they can play.
Sheryl Cormier had one of, if not the first, female Cajun bands in the 1980s, and another women’s group making the rounds is the Magnolia Sisters, who, Guillory noted, “rock, too. They’re just as good as any other band.”
Bonsoir, Catin has a July 23 gig at the Blue Moon.
Be there, but keep your male chauvinism at home—if you know what’s good for ya…