Cajun Christmas with Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys, Pelican 212, Liberty Theater, Dec. 17, 2016
Cajun Christmas, a show featuring the music of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Pelican 212, was presented at the Liberty Theater Dec. 17, 2016, as a special version of the weekly Rendez-vous des Cajuns radio program. The show was also staged at venues in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Crowley, Jennings, and Lake Charles.

Pelican 212, composed of children of John and Linda Rees, opened the show with a selection of good time music and Christmas songs like “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “I’m a Soul Man,” “Mister Big Stuff,” “You Never Can Tell,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” The group features the twins Max and Kolbe on trumpets and vocals (I hope I have them identified correctly in the photos), along with big sister Katie, Angelle, Marie, Giovanni, and Mollie, most playing more than one instrument with several also singing lead vocals. Linda, their mother, joined them to sing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Steve Riley’s sons, Burke and Dolsy, joined Pelican 212 for a while and returned later in the show when both bands were on stage together.

A number of years ago, members of the Rees family formed the band L’Angelus, which also played at the Liberty. Pelican 212 has appeared on national TV shows. For more about Pelican 212, go to www.pelican212.com/ or www.facebook.com/Pelican212/. Here’s a link to a KATC story: www.katc.com/story/31925704/acadiana-family-band-gains-na...

After Pelican 212 opened the show, the Mamou Playboys performed songs from their first ever Christmas album, “Party at the Holiday, All Night Long!” Produced by Valcour Records, the EP includes seven cuts. There are excellent versions of familiar songs like “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home),” “All I Want for Christmas, Dear, Is You,” “Louisiana Christmas Day” (previously recorded by Aaron Neville), “Blue Christmas” (the French version popularized by Belton Richard), and “Please Come Home for Christmas,” with vocals by Steve Riley and guest vocalist on the EP Wayne Toups.

With the help of a children’s chorus, the band recorded their version of George Harrison’s “Ding Dong,” which, as a retired English teacher, I’ll point out borrows lines from Tennyson’s long poem “In Memoriam” (“Ring out the old, ring in the new …Ring out the false, ring in the true”).

At the Liberty, Melete Terry and Alena Savoy, two background vocalists on the EP, joined by Katie Rees, sang “Angels I Have Heard on High (Gloria),” and Melete Terry sang “Bells Will Be Ringing.”

In addition to Christmas songs, the Mamou Playboys performed “La chanson de Mardi Gras” (in Eunice and Mamou, Christmas is a prelude to Mardi Gras), “Bernadette,” and “Bon Rêve.”

With everyone from both bands on stage, the Liberty show closed with the title cut from the EP, “Party at the Holiday, All Night Long!” Written by Steve LaFleur, leader of the band Mamou, the song is a really rockin’ celebration of the Holiday Lounge in Mamou.

The show was hosted by Moriah Istre and introduced by U.S. Park Ranger Angelle Bellard.
For more about the Mamou Playboys, go to www.mamouplayboys.com/ or www.facebook.com/Steve-Riley-the-Mamou-Playboys-195667373.... The EP was released by Valcour Records: www.valcourrecords.com/

For a listing of Cajun and Zydeco bands and Mardi Gras photos included on these Flickr pages, go to www.cajunzydecophotos.com or www.cajunzydecophotos.com/mobile.
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