Hadley J Castille - Refait
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Hadley J Castille
Swallow Records (www.floydsrecordshop.com)

Ever since his epiphanic journey to Canada in the early 80s, Hadley Castille has represented a unique epoch of Cajun music history. While most practitioners follow the typical accordion-fiddle model, culling tunes from the standards vault, Castille's roots are a direct link to the western swing era of the 40s, specifically those of fiddle swing king Harry Choates. Refait examines the fiddler's sonic legacy, not as a greatest hits package per se but with fresh renditions of Castille classics with his current band of stallions: son Blake, guitar, Rick Lagneaux, keyboards; Kenny Alleman, drums; and Rick Benoit, bass. Unlike other remake revisitations -- a feeble 60s greatest hits offering by Webb Pierce comes to mind -- there's no laying back on this one. Castille fiddles like a swashbuckling fencer, slicing, slashing and dashing his way through bluesy bow drags ("Cyprien and Marie"), western swing stomps ("Grand Texas") and rollicking romps ("Beau Geste"). To boot, Castille has always preferred to spin his own yarns rather than relate the tales of others, hence amassing a sizable body of original material over the years.

Fourteen tunes of this 20-track opus are Hadley Castille originals, two are Hadley/Blake co-writes while two more were written by Blake. Featured here are such Cajun French Music Association award-winning chestnuts as "200 Lines" ('I must not speak French on the schoolyard anymore') with fortifying background vocals from Zachary Richard, and "Faire Whiskey" that recounts the 'white mule' corn liquor stills in the woods surrounding the hamlet of Pecaniére, LA. Yet in many ways, Refait is a scrapbook only Castille could stitch together with stories about the old homestead ("Old Sharecropper's House"), a polygamous black sharecropper ("Ponique and Lodi") and the family's first radio ("Battery Radio") he and his brothers wore down overnight. The latter is particularly ingenius - midway the band mambos through a strain of "Rosalita," the Al Dexter hit, that their landlord demanded they play daily. Since others have rarely, if at all, touched this type of one-of-a-kind fodder, Castille is living proof that you can go home again. - Dan Willging

Available at cdroots.com

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