Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

JUNE 28, 2017, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Micheal Doucet (photo credit, Tom Pich)Michael Doucet
National Heritage Fellow Portrait by Tom Pich

Coolidge Auditorium

Michael Doucet: fiddle, accordion, vocals | David Doucet: guitar, vocals
Mitchell Reed: fiddle, bass | Billy Ware: percussion

The lively and soulful music of Louisiana Cajuns descends from the songs and fiddle tunes of French-speakers who migrated from France to Canada in the 17th century, and from Canada to Louisiana in the 18th century.  Cajun music blends those French and Acadian roots with elements other European, Native American, and African-American folk traditions, along with popular influences from country & western, blues, and pop. For four decades BeauSoleil have taken traditional ingredients—waltzes, two-steps, soulful Cajun French lyrics, hot fiddle licks, and irresistible accordion—and spiced them up with eclectic percussion, acoustic guitar in both finger-picked and flat-picked styles, and an open and creative attitude toward the music. BeauSoleil was the first Cajun band to win a Grammy Award, in 1998, and added a second in 2008. In 2011 they were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Beausoleil’s particular flavor of Cajun music reflects the vision of bandleader Michael Doucet, a lifelong student of Cajun culture. Early in his career he studied with every Cajun master musician he could find, including fiddlers like Dewey Balfa, Dennis McGee, and Canray Fontenot. For his contributions to Cajun culture, Doucet was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship in 2005, the highest honor given to traditional artists in the United States. In awarding the fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts called Doucet “perhaps the single most important figure in the revitalization of Cajun music in the United States.” Joining Michael in the quartet are fiddler Mitch Reed, a master musician and instructor who has performed with all the great names in Cajun music since he was a teenager; Michael’s brother David Doucet, a soulful singer and an exceptional guitarist who is credited with making the acoustic guitar central to modern Cajun music; and Billy Ware, a versatile percussionist equally at home playing traditional rhythms on the Cajun triangle, or lending the two-steps a Latin groove with congas. Together, these musicians have performed all over the globe, and represented Cajun music in popular media like HBO’s Treme and NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, whose former host Garrison Keillor calls BeauSoleil “the best Cajun band in the world.”

This concert is part of Homegrown 2017’s celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowships. 

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.