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Book Review

Barry Jean Ancelet, Elemore Morgan (Photos)
Cajun And Creole Music Makers
University Press of Mississippi (176 pages; soft cover, in English and French)

cd cover In his forward to Cajun and Creole Music Makers, Ralph Rinzler makes two compelling observations: "There remain fewer and fewer musicians like those described in this book" and "Artistic styles are elusive, hard to capture, harder to reproduce or accurately describe." It's a tribute to the creators of this volume how well they present their subject musicians (captured in photographs and words, often transcribed from interviews) and convey their unique place in American culture. It's all here, the legends and their progeny, along with eye-popping color photographs that could just as well be staring out at you from the pages of the National Geographic. History, biography, and good storytelling, Cajun and Creole Music Makers offers insight into music-making from the hardscrabble days of the Depression and the equal struggle to defend and celebrate their Cajun and Creole heritage and language. I especially enjoyed reading about the day jobs of these musicians, most of whom retain a vital connection to the working world of their origins. This project began during the '70s, was put on hold for a few years, and has come together in the end as a passionate exploration by a couple of true fans, brought into print for all of us to enjoy. You'll leave with glimpses of Dennis McGee, Marc Savoy, Nathan Abshire, Zachary Richard, Varise Connor, Lionel Leleux, Don Montoucet and other members of the pantheon that have sustained this music and the culture from which it arose. - Richard Dorsett

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