The Pine Leaf Boys Set New Release

(conqueroo) The Pine Leaf Boys, the young Cajun band from Louisiana whose last album, Blues de Musicien, was one of the first to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the new Best Cajun/Zydeco Album category, have signed to Lionsgate Music and have completed their new album Homage Au Passé (translated as Homage to the Past), slated for release on February 3, 2009. The youthful Southwest Louisianans celebrate their Cajun heritage with a rollicking and often rowdy collection of soulful original songs and traditional classics.

The Homage au Passé album received a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Cajun or Zydeco category for its digital-only release on iTunes. February 3, 2009 is its brick-and-mortar retail street date.

In a 2007 New York Times profile on the band, a performance was described thusly: "A spell was cast, combining a mysterious past — the nearly forgotten dialect and the archaic squeezebox's red bellows — with an unabashed rock 'n' roll energy conducive to the elbow-flying, hip-swiveling spirit on the dance floor." Rolling Stone describes the group as "steeped in tradition . . . but with free-range ambitions in soul." NPR recently featured the Pine Leaf Boys on "Morning Edition," crediting the band with keeping Cajun music alive.

It's precisely this unvarnished vitality that inspired Lionsgate's president of music Jay Faires to sign the Pine Leaf Boys. "Lionsgate works mainly with more contemporary-sounding bands, or commercial music, if you will," he explains. "And we are heavily involved in film soundtracks. But we are also interested in niche signings of premium next generation acts, and the Pine Leaf Boys are the best band in their genre — very respectful of tradition, yet they're also pushing tradition forward."

The Pine Leaf Boys banded together in 2005 in Lafayette, La. Since the mid-1970s, Lafayette has served as the epicenter of the Cajun/Creole cultural renaissance, spawning such pioneering crusaders as Zachary Richard and Michael Doucet avec BeauSoliel. Today that cultural movement is led by a third generation of torch-bearers — the Pine Leaf Boys and their colleagues in several other hot young bands who collectively embody the adventurous enthusiasm of the burgeoning Lafayette scene.

Each Pine Leaf boy comes to the band with deep personal ties to the Cajun tradition. Wilson Savoy, accordionist and singer, is the son of accordionist and accordion maker Marc Savoy and the Grammy-nominated guitarist, singer, producer and author Ann Savoy — both major figures in the Cajun renaissance. Fiddler and singer Courtney Granger, a relative of the famed Balfa Brothers, is an in-demand player who has worked with Balfa Toujours and renowned producer/multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell. Drummer, accordionist and singer Drew Simon epitomizes the unadorned, less-is-more approach of classic Cajun music that he was raised with: "No computer or synthesizers," Simon explains. Guitarist Jon Bertrand was raised as a cowboy on the South Louisiana prairies and brings the band an eclectic approach and modern influences. Bassist Thomas David grew up with Cajun music thanks to his dad, Ken, bassist with the popular Jambalaya Cajun Band.

The Pine Leaf Boys are the real deal — sincere cultural crusaders who love their land and who play its venerable music with genuine gusto, There's no studied revivalism on their Lionsgate debut, Homage au Passé. Au contraire, the album stomps, sweats, loves and loses, and raises no small amount of hell in the process. In an age of rampant homogenization, when vital regional cultures are eroding just like Louisiana's endangered wetlands, Homage au Passé proves that the steamroller of bland conformity will never flatten all in its path.

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