Aux Cajunals

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"Why has dancing to Cajun music skyrocketed in popularity? Eric and Suzy Thompson, two of the East Bay's most talented musicians, should know. They've enlisted a couple of acoustic music friends and formed the Aux Cajunals, playing to packed clubs throughout the Bay Area. (If you remember your high school French, you'll notice that the pronunciation of the band's name is significantly similar to the word occasional.)"

Dan Ouellete, The Express

Equally at home in a dance club, concert hall, or house party, the Aux Cajunals play the kind of old-fashioned Cajun music which has been an integral part of celebrations in southwest Louisiana for over 100 years. The Aux Cajunals' sound is hard-driving but not ear-splitting, inspiring listeners to dance the twostep or waltz, or just to soak up the rich textures of the acoustic instruments and the emotion-drenched French vocals. The Aux Cajunals Big Band, which includes bass and drums, adds zydeco and vintage rhythm and blues to the mix, including material from such great roots artists as Big Joe Williams, Memphis Minnie and Freddie King.


©Irene Young

 

Suzy Thompson squeezes her Louisiana-made one-row accordions, fiddles up a storm, and brings the Cajun and Creole songs to life with her powerful vocals. Eric Thompson's lead guitar playing gives a bluesy edge to the zydeco and R&B numbers, and his acoustic rhythm guitar chops keep the dancers up and hopping! Agi Ban adds her strong lead fiddle to the band's sound. The Aux Cajunals Big Band adds bass, drums, sometmes pedal steel, another fiddler, or another guitarist. Eric, Suzy and Agi have performed and recorded with many of the most respected names in Cajun and zydeco music, including Michael Doucet and Beausoleil, Marc & Ann Savoy, Queen Ida, Dewey Balfa, and D.L. Menard. Eric and Suzy spent 18 years as mainstays of the California Cajun Orchestra, with two award-winning CDs on the Arhoolie label. During these years, Suzy learned to play Cajun accordion while playing fiddle alongside the late, great Danny Poullard. Earlier in the early 1980's, she apprenticed in Louisiana to master fiddler Dewey Balfa under an NEA grant, and was also mentored by Cheese Read and Dennis McGee.

The Aux Cajunals' repertoire is designed for partying and dancing -- it's the original old-time honky-tonky music of southwest Louisiana! In addition to all of the Cajun standards, the Aux Cajunals repertoire includes many unusual songs and tunes learned from rare 78's, field recordings, and directly from master musicians: heart-breaking waltzes like "La Bague Qui Brillent", twosteps from the 1920's like "Waxia Special", and proto-Zydeco songs like "Blues A Voyage". Using 3 fiddles, they resurrect reels and onesteps from the 19th century, learned first-hand from legendary fiddler Dennis McGee. In a concert setting, the Aux Cajunals also perform unaccompanied ballads, some of which go all the way back to 17th century France!

Sat. Oct. 9 from 1 to 2 PM - the Aux Cajunals at Oaktoberfest in the Dimond, Oakland - FREE We play a set of Cajun dance music at this family-friendly beer festival and street fair in Oakland's Fruitvale/Dimond district. Stage is at or near the corner of Dimond and MacArthur, in Oakland. Oaktoberfest website

Here are a few samples of the Aux Cajunals' music:

La Bague Qui Brillent Waltz

Hip et Taiaut

Baby Please Don't Go

Twostep Melange

Cheres Joues Roses

 

 
 
 
   
   

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Eric and Suzy Thompson
510-848-5018


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