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2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Lost Bayou Ramblers by Andre and Louis Michot. In this episode of Discover Lafayette, the brothers had just come back from a five-month touring hiatus and visited with Jan Swift about their journey to becoming an established international presence on the music scene.
Worklight Pictures created the “rockumentary,” On Va Continuer, capturing the personal and professional story behind the band, whose members also include Johnny Campos (electronic guitarist), Eric Heigle (electronics and acoustic guitar), Bryan Webre (electric bassist) and drummer Kirkland Middleton. The film looks at the modern Cajun culture and the importance of sustaining the Cajun French language. Mark your calendar for the celebration of Lost Bayou Rambler’s 20th anniversary on September 28, 2019 and viewing of the film at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Growing up, Andre and Louis performed Cajun music as members of Les Frères Michot, the band their father, Tommy Michot, and uncles formed in the 1980’s. While they had taken lessons to learn guitar (Andre) and classical violin (Louis), their talent blossomed when they picked up instruments and taught themselves the intricacies of the accordion (Andre) and fiddle (Louis). Andre has actually mastered the art of building accordions as an adult musician, and the brothers have learned to play other instruments by ear and by watching each other as they jammed together and with Les Frere Michot.
The Lost Bayou Rambler’s musical lyrics are performed solely in French, but the men didn’t grow up speaking the language. It took a solo journey by Louis to St. Anne’s University in Nova Scotia in 1998 to learn French and that is where he picked up the fiddle, using an instrument his grandfather had handed down. For Louis, learning the language was facilitated by singing the words and learning the rhythm as he played the fiddle on the streets.
In August 1999, the brothers booked their first gig as a yet-to-be-named band at Café Rue Vermilion in downtown Lafayette. On the way, Louis stopped by to see his friend, the late Ryan Domingue, who asked what their name was. When Louis said, “We don’t have one,” Ryan offered up “Lost Bayou Ramblers” which both young men loved. For background on this story and information on the Rue Vermilion Revival and Flood Relief Fundraiser in 2016, visit here.
Lost Bayou Ramblers received a Grammy nomination for its 2007 release of Live a la Blue Moon. In 2012, the band released Mammoth Waltz with the help of producer Korey Richey and guest artists Gordon Gano, Scarlett Johansson, and Dr. John. Mammoth Waltz was named #2 in the “Top 21 Louisiana albums of the 21st Century” by Times Picayune.
Lost Bayou Ramblers’ contribution to the score of Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012 brought them renown worldwide, and we end this interview with the haunting melody of their music from the film.
After their live appearance on NPR’s World Café, Lost Bayou Ramblers was rated #1 on “David Dye’s five favorite live music moments in and out of the World Café studio.” And then, in 2017, the band won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album for Kalenda.
The bands’ performance on the 2017 PBS documentary series American Epic, solidified Lost Bayou Ramblers’ international reputation as an iconic Cajun band.
Lost Bayou Ramblers recently released their score to the highly acclaimed and award-winning Rodents of an Unusual Size, which aired on PBS earlier this year. The film documents the unusual relationships people have with the large rodents. The music was released on March 29 and is available via Bandcamp on CD, and all major streaming and paid download sites. You can check out the music here.
The spoken words of Louis and Andre are inspirational and engaging. Their story is worth a listen. Thanks to the brothers for sharing their journey.