April 24, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
Dewey Balfa was the first man to bring Cajun music out of Louisiana when he played the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. Christine Balfa, the guitar-playing daughter of Dewey, led Cajun band Balfa Toujours(translated "Balfa still and always") Saturday afternoon at Jazzfest. The quintet played an exuberant and enjoyable show at the Fais-Do-Do stage.
According to their website, the band does not want to keep traditional Cajun music in a glass museum, but neither do they want to modernize it. They just want to keep the thing going.
They did just that at their concert, where they pushed through waltzes, two-steps, and even a little Blues. Christine acted as mother of the proceedings, giving most of the attention to her bandmates. But, all eyes locked on the storied daughter when she graced the audience with her powerful voice. In addition, Dirk Powell, Christine's husband, reminded me how an accordion should sound. He sat down in a chair while all the others stood. Kevin Wimmer played lead fiddle, and when he and second fiddler Kevin Granger got into a fiery two-fiddle battle that sounded better than most guitar solos, I was happy to witness the Cajun heritage come to life. Granger, only 18, is Christine's son, and he had a confidence and realized talent unusual for his age. Granger sang French lyrics with a Cajun accent.
The concert was full of life and happiness.