By Bethany Nolan
Call it fate.
Sitting around a campfire at the Dewey Balfa Heritage Week at Chicot State Park in Louisiana, the four female members of Bonsoir Catin were drawn to each other.
“We got to talking…formed a band, and the next thing you know, we’re playing gigs,” accordion player Kristi Guillory said. “We love it.”
The band also includes a name fans of Cajun music will recognizer—guitarist Christine Balfa Powell, daughter of the late Dewey Balfa, who is perhaps better known for her connection to her other band, Balfa Toujours
Rounding out the group are bass player Yvette Landry and fiddle player Anya Schoenegge Burgess—who studied folklore at Indiana University and completed a program here in violin making and stringed instrument repair.
All the women come by their love of Cajun music honestly
Guillory, a Louisiana native whose grandparents didn’t speak any English, was drawn to her instrument after hearing someone play the accordion at a music festival.
“I told my mom I wanted to play one of those,” she said. “I fell in love with it right away.”
The band plays all styles of music, Guillory said, ranging from old ballads and 1950s-era tunes with a sort of country-western feel.
The secret to the eclectic play list? By day, Guillory works as a media archivist, digitizing more than 2,000 hours of recordings made at festivals in Louisiana in the 1930s
“We embrace all sorts of styles in Cajun music,” she said. “We just play what we like.”
Influences from touch, independent women are mixed in there as well—the band’s Web site lists this quote attributed to Dolly Parton: “I hope people realize the brain underneath the hair and the heart underneath the boobs.”
It’s the band’s first time to play at the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival and its members are excited, Guillory said.
So what does a Cajun band wish for when playing live?
We’re hoping to get a good dance crowd,” Guillory said with a gust of laughter.