[man] Hey y'all wanna tune up?
[instruments hum to life]
'Cause it's a steep , it's a steep launch.
I hope the water is high enough actually to launch.
We gonna see.
Ok, making sure I'm in the right spot.
Yeah I'm good, this is nice.
Even better than it was.
Make sure there's no hidden cyprus stumps or nothing.
Yeah I wasn't sure - ah, that's good, it's good.
Alright, let's see what we got.
Man, I knew I shouldn't have done that, I was thinking about that.
Alright, I'm gonna have to crank the motor up.
That mud flat is nice.
Ah yeah baby!
[engine sputters and dies]
[Louis] Thank y'all so much for being here for this Sunday afternoon.
We're doing the album, 'Kalenda'.
This song's called "The Rice Pump"!
[upbeat Cajun song plays]
♪ O mais hier au soir / J'ai rencontré la femme je vais marier ♪
♪ Elle m'a porté tout le bonheur ♪
♪ Elle fait mon coeur battre comme le pompe du riz ♪
[Louis] We were like hanging out,
I think you had like borrowed Dad's accordion and I had my fiddle.
And I said: "Oh, you've been playing accordion?
Oh yeah cool, I've been playing fiddle."
And you were like: "Check out this little song I was making."
We started the Lost Bayou Ramblers on accident,
by just going to play a little cafe gig.
[Andre] We Just did it. I guess we practiced.
but I don't even remember... [laughs]
You know we just started playing and then people wanted to hear more of it.
And we started making records.
The first one being at our family's camp on the Vermillion,
and twenty years and eight albums later,
we're down the bayou at Dockside Studios doing the same thing.
[Louis] Ryan Domingue, rest in peace,
named the band Lost Bayou Ramblers,
because he thought it'd be a great name for a Cajun band.
I said: "Yeah it is a great name for a Cajun band. Can we have it?"
[Louis] It's called "On Va Continuer!"
It means we're gonna continue, keep going.
What was that bar in downtown Lafayette?
We were trying to remember, where y'all'd play?
I felt like we were young.
We'd go to the bar with y'all and -
- It's like they had that big long bar. - Yeah, yeah
I remember like sitting at that bar.
I must have been like five or six or something?
[Tommy] That's when we really got going as Les Freres Michot.
That was 1986.
- [Louis] I remember that was happening, it was buzzing. - [Andre] Yeah, it was.
[Tommy] Oh man it was.
We started playing for fifty dollars...
and a... what was it?
Fifty dollars and hour... - [Andre] And a case of Red Stripe.
..and a case of Red Stripe! [laughs] That was our pay!
You started playing triangle for a while when we needed somebody on triangle.
[Andre] Started out on triangle and before you know it I have a guitar in my hands.
Yeah and I'd just kinda hang out in the back
- Just kinda learning the chords. - [Tommy laughs]
[Louis] I feel like one time we sat in the room, and went over a few things.
And the next thing I know I was on stage, as a paid member.
Figuring out the bass and -
and that's kinda the interesting thing about the language, too.
Is that as like rhythm section players who didn't speak French,
y'all would say the name of the song, it meant nothing to us.
- 'Cause we didn't know the song, we'd just wait, - Yeah, exactly.
- and say: "Okay, we're playing this song. - Listen for the first couple notes.
Okay whatever, just start playing and we'll catch on."
Then they'd start playing.
Okay, okay it's this song.
Okay, in this key.
Okay you know and it's just like -
We'd know the songs for what they were,
but we didn't know what they were called.
I guess the music is like a language.
You have to know it in your head and in your heart,
before you can try to play it.
'Cause if you don't know what it sounds like -
If I tried to learn Japanese today I'd have no idea where to start.
When I started learning French,
it came out as Louisiana French 'cause that's what I knew.
You know, my first trip ever I went over to Ireland
I had my guitar and I was jammin' with these Irish accordion players on the road.
And I was like, listening to the chord changes,
and how it was similar to Cajun music.
And I could follow these Irish musicians.
And then, I thought their music was so amazing,
and that kinda made me realize how amazing OUR music is.
And then when I got back, I really wanted to learn the language.
And Andre had picked up your accordion while I was gone,
when I had hitch hiked across Canada.
When we got back, we kinda realized we were starting out own new brothers' tradition,
- of the next generation. - [Andre] Yeah.
[Tommy] Well I'd say right now is a great time to be in Lafayette.
'Cause there's a lot of spirit right now about Cajun culture,
and it's a young spirit.
Like, y'all's generation and younger, too.
[Andre] It is, but it keeps changing,
and whatever the reason is for the individual to get into it,
I guess the point is - that it's good that it's continuing.
The boats have always been such a big part of our sessions here, you know.
Like even on 'Mammoth Waltz' we sang "Reveil La Louisiane,"
we did like all of the vocal takes out in the bayou
in my metal canoe.
Ethel Mae grew up right there,
and then lived most of her life down there,
at her grandpa's house.
And you know, we'd take the boat there sometimes,
to her old homestead.
All her songs are about this area.
As you travel through here,
you can travel through her songs.
You know, that's what's so cool.
Like, it's all in there.
And the way she said it when we first met her, is it went like this:
[murmuring in French]
Ms. Ethel Mae Bourque who was raised right next door here,
her daddy, Sidney Bourque.
We put him on the cover of our first album,
because he represented so much of that,
really big impressions I had
of French-speaking Louisianians that didn't speak English.
He passed on to her his knowledge
of the land, and the language,
and she was still alive to pass that on to us.
And she passed us on so many songs.
And so much knowledge.
I mean, so much knowledge of plants and uses,
and food and gardening.
And the important thing about the language in our music,
is that, for one, it's a huge part of the rhythm of the music.
Learning these songs without knowing the language is...
you know, it's incomplete.
[heavy bass line plays]
It's amazing that we've been able to hold onto our French as long as we have.
A lot of people all around here speak French.
And sometimes you have to really gain their trust
for them to speak it to you.
I think people still are mistrusting of...
You know, becuse Les Americains is the one
who's gonna come buy your land for fifty bucks,
and put up an oil rig next you,
and not give you any of the royalites.
["Dans Les Pins" plays]
My great grandpa, the first Louis Michot,
was from Avoyelles parish,
where I mean, everyone spoke French.
A lot of people still do.
He and his wife were both teachers.
And the teachers were the ones who enforced the law
that was only English in schools.
And if you spoke anything else, you were looked down upon.
So naturally, they didn't let their own children speak French because -
because "if you wanna be American, then you better speak English.
If you wanna speak another language, you better go back to where you came from."
I saw a sticker that said that this morning!
"If you don't like my flag, go back to where you came from."
I think that's the main thing,
is that people were shamed out of speaking French.
You know the Teche, this was the main highway,
of all the people who got here to Acadiana.
You know, this was the - this was the way people got here.
They would cross from the Mississippi River over the Plaquemine Bayou,
and then they would go through the Basin somehow,
then they'd end up on the Teche.
And they had major steamboats coming up here.
I think the water was a lot higher.
But now it's all controlled since the flood of '27.
Yeah, but so we're finally starting to use it again.
Which is awesome.
What's up, Tom?
[Tom] How are you?
[Louis plays fiddle]
How did Cajun music become what it is today?
Well someone had an accordion, and it played with the fiddle.
That's cool man.
- It's got a strong, strong tone. - That? That's a good instrument.
- Man, that is nice. - Five years every summer. So it better be nice.
I put a lot of effort into it.
The accordion didn't have all the same notes as the fiddle,
so the fiddle had to limit itself
to play with the accordion.
And it became the second instrument,
because the accordion was much louder.
Man that is a nice fiddle. [whistles]
Thank you. I'll put uh...
..."Louis Michot approved."
Here's one of them.
You can get quite a few different sounds from an accordion,
depending on - like, there's a lot of facors.
Randy Falcon, who had taught me,
has a lot of theories on that.
I wanted to learn how to tune accordions,
because the way Randy tunes, it' the old style.
And it takes a really long time to do,
but there's a sound you get from it,
what I think of when I think of the Cajun music that I like.
He said: "Man, you know I could teach you."
But he said: "You know, it's a lot of work,
and it's a lot more detail than you think,
and there's an art to it."
It takes a long time. It's not like you just go and tune it and it's done.
He said: "It's a four hour process to tune one accordion."
And I was telling him about that I was kinda interested in doing it.
And he said: "God, that'd be great, man."
'Cause there's no one else that does it like him, you know?
And he said once he stops, you know -
[laughs] someone's gotta - gotta know how to do it.
There's a hundred reeds in an accordion.
Each reed has two sides.
[plays a few notes]
[plays note out of pitch]
Pick that up?
See what you do - [plays out of tune]
See that one's in tune.
So here's the octave to that.
[plays note out of tune]
It's flat with the same pressure.
With more pressure, it'd be even more flat.
That's the reed I was playing, the one that's flat. And that was on the push, which is on the outside.
There's also one you can see on the inside, that would be on the pull.
That little reed right here. That's on the other side.
When you pull, it plays that one. When you push, it plays the one on top.
So what you do if it's flat,
you just grind a little bit of material off the tip,
which will make it vibrate faster,
which will bring it up in pitch
If it's sharp, you take a little bit off the middle,
which makes it vibrate slower, which makes it flat.
A little more.
Alright, then you come back.
Just about there.
So you could say, "Well that's close enough.
That's only like probably a cent off."
But the thing is -
A-a-and you won't hear that necessarily,
with your ear, if it's one or two cents off.
You're not going to hear it.
It's funny 'cause these accordions it's like -
It takes, I don't know, eighty to a hundred hours
to build one accordion.
And you can do one change,
you know, on each one,
and then at the end of eighty or a hundred hours,
you find out if it made a difference or not.
And it's like alright...
I made three. If you want only two, fine I'll --
[Louis] Nah, I'll take all three!
Ah, look at that. That's perfect, man.
Perfect kid's t-fer.
They have a good little tone. They're not too loud.
[plays a weird note]
How'd you get into making t-fers?
I really don't remember.
That's thirty - over thirty years ago.
[Louis] You made 'em with haytines?
Yeah, I made some with haytines.
But man, they hard to find.
Those that you do find,
people, they really don't want to get rid of them.
My oldest son decided he wanted to start playing fiddle this weekend.
Never asked him.
So I had a little fiddle, I broke it out.
So then my other son yesterday, of course,
you get something- they both want something.
So he said, "But I want a guitar. I want my own guitar."
So I'm gonna bring him this, I think he'll be -
He wants to be a drummer.
So that's the perfect start.
[Louis] If you can get the triangle rhythm,
and you can hold it,
well then you can move on to the next instrument.
The triangle, and the fiddle, and the accordion,
are the root of Cajun music.
And if you have those, and the French vocals,
well, then --
you're playing Cajun music.
No matter what else you have on it.
Everything else is just rock'n'roll.
♪ O petite fille C'est pas lapeine ♪
♪ Que toi tu m'abondonnes Tu me laissais sur le Bayou Vermilion ♪
We've not been shy to introduce new sounds to Cajun music.
And new approaches.
Where at first, people get offended and throw off by 'em.
But most people react in such a good way because,
they like it.
Because it sounds good and it feels good.
And if it sounds good and it feels good...
then it can't be bad. You know?
You got Louis that?
[Little Louis] My bow and arrow! Oh.
Oh! A Hot Wheel bike!
[Louis] He outgrew his old bike.
Try it out, Lou! Give it a whirl.
[boys make car noises]
Diapers, I got a bike and diapers.
That's my life.
[simple fiddle tune plays]
So this porch used to be the walls of the original house I tore down.
Then I remade these walls as "bousillage."
We dug a pit out back.
And we got to the clay.
We broke up the clay.
Then we added a bunch of cured moss.
Which took - just curing the moss was like weeks and weeks of work.
See like that's the "bousillage," right there.
See? And then that's the moss.
The cured Spanish moss.
And these are some cypress trees we got out the Atchafalaya Basin.
The amazing thing about bousillage is that it all comes from right here on the land.
You know, you have the cypress tree,
which grows in the mud.
And the Spanish moss,
hangs off the cypress tree.
So it all comes from one spot.
You know? I'm just gonna hurt myself. [chuckles]
[Julian] Hey Louis, guess what?
This is for you!
[Louis] You wanna be a drummer? That's how you start!
[Julian] Yeah, that's how you start.
[fumbles] That must be how Kirkland got to be...
Yeah, he did!
[Louis] That is exactly how Kirkland got to be such a good drummer.
You're fast, gosh!
[Little Louis mumbles]
[all] Wow, Julian! Go ahead!
[Louis] Let's do a little jam, Ju.
You too fast for me.
[Julian] The new album 'Kalenda'!
That's right, Ju.
The original painting by Douglas Bourgeois.
[Louis] Thank y'all so much for coming to the beer dinner!
We're gonna play one more song,
then we gotta head to the Maple Leaf to setup.
Come continue with us!
["Mon Chapeau" on fiddle]
[the band joins in]
[Louis sings in French]
[laughs, crowd claps]
Thank y'all so much, enjoy the last course!
["Rice Pump" plays]
A big bottle!
[guys discussing the song]
[notes on synth]
[Louis sings in French]
It was a good start but...
[listening to Louis' vocal recording]
[Louis sings in French]
Uh, yeah, it's pretty good I think..
It's the "sha's" that are like...
["sha" off key|
[sings "sha" off key]
[sings the full lyric]
[sings "sha" in key]
Can I just sing it, like without the music?
[listening to flute recording]
[Spider] Excuse the glitches.
[Spider] I know how it goes --
I know, but it sounds great already.
This is going to be a great addition.
But when we get it nailed it's gonna like...
...feel fucking great.
[Spider] Thank you, Korey.
[Spider] He's so nice, isn't he?
[Spider] Very encouraging, very polite as well.
On the intro, we don't have a count-in.
I can make a count-in or...
[Spider] Or something would be helpful.
Yeah, I'm gonna make a little count-in so you know when to come in on the intro.
[Spider] Intro French is fine.
[Louis] Spider was...
loving enough to record on our album.
And we have it right here with us.
Yeah, listen to Spider.
And there's a song that we worked on together.
We figured out, like musicians do, every once in a while.
And it's called:
[Louis, in French] One, two, three
["Si J'Aurais des Ailes" plays live]
[fades into the studio recording]
♪ O oui partout éyou je vas Mais ça me convient pas ♪
♪ O si j'aurais des ailes ♪
♪ Comme tout ses hirondelles J'irais me reposer ♪
[Korey] And how are you feeling with it?
Is it like getting better and better every time?
It's, you know...yeah.
Maybe I should smoke some digital weed or something.
[Korey] And Louis if you could help out.
Download it into the brain.
["Si J'Aurais des Ailes" continues playing]
[goofy] Can't handle it.
It's a brownie.
That's good Spider, thank you.
[Korey] I think it sounds fucking awesome with the song.
I think it really...
You know I always liked the whistle in this one particularly.
We made this song with the whistle.
Like we made, we fabricated this song with the whistle.
Yeah we did, didn't we?
Over the months.
I've been to a lot of places in this world.
And you know, New Haven, Connecticut
claims the first hamburger and the first pizza in America.
They invented pizza and they invented hamburgers.
But you know what, I'm here to claim something back for Louisiana.
And I hereby announce the brand newest American food
in the whole world...
It's basically the best of both worlds, you know?
You love hamburgers and you love hotdogs? Try a hamdog!
So basically, a hamdog was inspired one day
when I saw this little ham running out after a dog in the road.
And I said man, wouldn't it be great to combine those two creatures?
A ham and a dog?
Getting my hamdog mix ready.
It's just like making a hamburger...
...except you make it long.
So you roll it, you roll hamdogs.
They're kinda just...weird looking. [laughs]
Wait until you see it cooked. It's even worse cooked.
That's a hamdog!
[Spider] Oh no! That's not -
Fuck off! [laughs]
Tastes just like dog.
[Louis] Sorry, I forgot my beer and my lyrics.
You know and having Sidney Bourque and Ethel Mae Bourque
on the front cover of our first two albums,
I think says a lot about what we're trying to do with our music.
Which is bring forward
this partially amazing poetry of a language,
and partially the knowledge and the history,
and the words that are only unique to us.
And they have so much meaning.
It dies with the people that hold it.
And when these elder generations pass away,
they take so much knowledge with them.
You know, if no one was there just to talk to them and to learn.
You know, it's not just language for language sake.
It's almost language for survival sake.
And knowing who you are and where you come from is part of that,
as well as, tapping into that language. And it's a piece of who we are.
[dark, ominous music]
[Steve] We didn't know when the water was gonna stop.
We thought, is there gonna be 4 or 5 days?
[Wish] There was water as far as you could see each way.
It went all the way past the barn.
We just looked that way and it was just water.
You just felt like you were in the middle of the bayou.
[Taylor] You can come see the console is gutted.
The heart and the brain of the studio is right here.
In the Neve console.
It's a really crazy piece of gear.
A very key ingredient to a studio is this part of it.
Everything had to be removed.
Dylan and Wish unscrewed all the mods,
all the console pieces.
You can see the water level came up about...
... right here.
It was part of the river,
a couple days.
If they only knew,
this is where B.B. King was rockin' out.
Dr. John, Leon Russell...
This is so many people's home away from home.
Whenever you're making a record and you can come out to a place like this,
it becomes your home.
[Steve] Oh, God damn.
If it ain't bad enough I lost my studio
I'm watching Dr. Phil!
[Louis] A lot of our 'Mammoth Waltz' that we recorded right there at Dockside,
was inspired by, of course, the oil spill.
And it was inspired by a lot of tragedy.
That, in turn, affected so many of our people and so much of the language itself,
and how people carry on,
and how people are able to live with the land when they're being forced off the land.
Trying to hold onto something that is actually inside people
and inside families, and if you split those families up, or split those communities up,
it doesn't necessarily exist the same after that
because it doesn't have the place to exist.
♪ Dansez Kalenda, G'doum G'doum Dansez Kalenda, G'doum G'doum ♪
[song slows down, saddens]
[bandmates talking, laughing]
[Director] Cute man, cute man.
- [Ashley] Thank you, uncle Jonny. - [Jonny] You're welcome.
[Jonny] Bye, guys.
[Andre] Good luck raising money!
[Ashley] Oh, be safe with yourself!
[Kirkland] ...I had a brother who was a baby like three years ago.
[Louis] Introducing: Marius!
Welcome to the van, buddy.
Welcome to the van!
You see everybody?
- [Kirkland] Oh my god! - [Louis] There's Eric, Bryan--
[Kirkland] I know the cieling is super cool, isn't it?
He loves achitecture.
- [all laugh] - [Louis] He does!
["Sabine Turnaround" plays]
[Louis] This is one called "Sabine Turnaround."
It's what you do right before you get to Texas.
You take that little turnaround,
come back east.
[Emcee] Let's go ahead and welcome the Lost Bayou Ramblers!
[song rhythm picks up]
- [Kirkland screams] - [laughter]
[Louis] I like signing on the smoke.
["Sabine Turnaround" plays live]
- Hey, Omar, you good at tying ties, huh? - I am
♪ I got friends that can tie ties ♪
So, as they said in Connie Castille's documentary:
"I always do my collars first."
Shit. I don't even know what to do. Alright, how about...
Yea, I think you do do the collar first.
Maybe like that?
Shit. Where's my wife!
We might be here awhile.
It's hard to do a collar, man.
[Louis] Thanks, Omar!
2:45 we wanna meet up there 'cause...
that would suck to miss our category.
[Omar] Now, this is Grammy quality.
[Louis] Omar, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you, Omar!
- [friend] From the bottom of your heart to the seat of your pants!
Which looks fabulous, by the way.
Man, that's good! Woo!
[Louis] So this is: "Monsieur Mazureau, Dans son grand bureau,"
"Comme un vieux crapeau, Dans un baille de l'eau."
Monsieur Mazureau, he was like this New Orleans dude
that they all hated because he outlawed dueling,
and he was anti-Napoleon, and he was a Royalist, and uh--
"Dans son bureau" like "in his office"
like a big frog, like a big toad
in a tub of water.
And the second verse is:
And he went in the boat, fell in the water,
and wet his scarf.
Really, it's his cape, but we put a scarf.
There's a lot of symbolism with this lawsuit we had to go through, and stuff so...
Wow, this is weird, y'all.
We all got suits on and we're walking down a hall!
[car horn] - [woman] Hey, I like your suit!
[Louis] I'm in New York! You'll see about it.
Marius! Hey, buddy.
You'll be here one day, Marius.
In New York City, with all the bright lights.
Look. See all that?
[Louis] C'mon! [Korey] C'mon!
[Louis] Just in case.
[Andre] He had his two sons', Luis' and Julian's pictures, and uh,
he was writing on the back of 'em. So, he said, "Well, if you want to use this one."
I made some notes, you know, some Thank You notes just in case.
[dramatic music builds]
[Emcee] And the Grammy goes to...
["Sabine Turnaround" plays]
[Louis] First of all:
The woman up above,
[Andre] Our Dad for getting us into the music,
and our Mom and sister for supporting us and putting up with it!
[Louis] And then, like, they announced us, and it was like,
and it didn't sound like us, it was like, "KAH--"
I was thinking "Lost Bayou Ramblers."
I think I said, "c'mon!"
[Louis] And then to have that thrill of winning,
and then like getting that amazing award,
and doing all this stuff, and then be like,
"Okay, now you gotta go--"
Nuh uh. No! Fuck no!
Gotta roll some "petards."
[Louis] Music is possibly the best vehicle for transmitting the language,
and transmitting this history, and transmitting the knowledge,
and processing how it applies to us today.
It's amazing that it's still so strong.
Everyone keeps saying, "Well, the French is gonna die."
Or, "the French should've died." Or, "it will die."
And, you know, really, it's much more alive than we think.
The diversity and the complexity is what keeps things fresh and what keeps things moving.
[Andre] You know, people want you to keep playing, [laughs]
and it's a good idea to do it.
And it's good to be acknowledged.
[Louis] I think there's still a chance that we could revitalize it
to the point that it wiIl last for many more generations.
That's what I try to do with my music, and all my work,
and all my life, you know, trying to pass it on to my children.
Try to learn more myself.
You know, it is definitely a life's work, and it has become...
the reason that I do what I do.
[Louis] How y'all doing, New Orleans!
Thank y'all for being with us here tonight!
[Band plays "Freetown Crawl / Fightin' Ville Brawl"]
♪ Et mais quoi ce qu'il va devenir demain? Mo connais pas! ♪
♪ Mais moi je veut savoir mais, je connais pas. Oh dit moi! ♪
♪ Jamais la vie neg! ♪
♪ Je va t'attraper par les culottes! ♪
♪ Je va attraper la pour tout-quelqu'un! ♪
♪ On va rentrer l'affaire, on va la renverser! ♪
♪ Dit moi la verité! Garde la! Garde la! ♪
[Band gets louder, accordion shreds]
[Andre] This is, I think, a true passion of mine.
I really, really enjoy doing it.
I really enjoy figuring out the different ways
to make things work, and to change the sound.
[Kirkland] Nothing wrong with what we're doing now, so...[laughs]
[Eric] The last year and a half has been a whirlwind of sorts.
I don't know that any of us anticipated
how well-recieved 'Kalenda' would be.
[Bryan] It's a really special group of people.
Everybody's kinda like always on the same page,
even though there's not a lot of words said about it.
[Andre] I'm sure whatever we'll do will follow whatever we've done in the past.
Which is not really doing anything like we did before!
[Louis] Yea, just enjoy it for what it is: it's music.
In the end, it is just music.
And everyone can agree with the music.
No matter if you speak the language or not,
or no matter where you're from,
Everyone loves the music.
[band plays upbeat Cajun tune]
Yeah, so this is "La Roue Qui Pend."
It's our family camp for, I don't know...
a long time.
It's called "La Roue Qui Pend."
It's the hanging wheel.
They used to repair wagon wheels, I think, back in the day here.
And so this wagon wheel repair thing has been here forever.
So we recorded Les Freres Michot album out here,
and we recorded the first Lost Bayou Ramblers abum out here
There's me and my dad and Andre.
We recorded our first album here and we didn't even know
that Dockside existed. - [Director] No way!
Turns out that Dockside is right there.
You know, it's really hard to imagine a reality
without South Louisiana culture,
and without Louisiana French.
Would America be better or worse
with or without Louisiana French?
Or where would we be if we didn't have this beautiful language,
and everything that goes along with it?
Would I be here talking to you right now?
Would people be coming to Louisiana
to enjoy the great state it is without it?
It's way too many questions to ask,
and to me it's just--
The important is that we hold onto it as much as we have
and we nurture it.
Just do what we can.
["Danse de Mardi Gras" plays]