Bonsoir, Catin at Festival International, April 30, 2017
Bonsoir, Catin performed Sunday afternoon April 30, 2017, in Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette during Festival International de Louisiane at the Jeff Davis Bank Pavilion de Cuisine. The band played songs from their new CD, “L’Aurore,” which was available for sale ahead of the official May 26 Valcour Records national release date. After storms the preceding night, the sun peeked off and on through a hazy, cloudy sky.

Members included Kristi Guillory, accordion; Anya Burgess, fiddle; Christine Balfa, rhythm guitar; Maegan Berard, electric guitar; Ashley Hayes Steele, bass; Daniel Devillier, drums. The CD, which follows the Grammy-nominated “Light the Stars” released in 2014, features seven new songs written by Kristi Guillory (Daniel Devillier is cowriter on one) and three by Ashley Hayes Steele (with Maegan Berard as cowriter on one). There are also a couple of traditional songs and a cover of Clifton Chenier’s “All Night Long.”

A week earlier, the band offered fans a chance to hear the recorded music at a listening party. While I thoroughly enjoyed the group’s live performance at Festival International, I found that I could more fully appreciate the textures and intricacies of Bonsoir, Catin’s beautiful, evocative new songs by hearing the studio versions on their new CD. The recorded versions include a number of other musicians—such as Erik Adcock on organ, piano and clavinet, Roddie Romero on vocals with Maegan Berard, Richard Comeaux and Kyle Huval on pedal steel, Chris Miller on saxophone, a six-musician string section, plus other guest artists—in arrangements and mixtures that offer added dimensions and richness to the music.

The CD is currently available on Bonsoir, Catin’s web site: If, like me, your knowledge of French is limited, be sure to download the French/English lyrics to better experience the vivid imagery, the poetic depiction of love and loss, and the way words become music.

The opening phrase of the title cut “L’aurore” is “Peinturer une chanson.” Christine Balfa’s painting on the CD cover is a perfect visual representation of Bonsoir, Catin’s music: a swirl of colors--sensuous, vibrant, moody, joyous, soothing, tempestuous, altogether glorious like the dawn.

Extended Footnote: An article about the CD written by Herman Fuselier in The Daily Advertiser and first available online 7-7-17 explains the origins of the title cut, “L’aurore.” Kristi Guillory’s song is dedicated “à Pyook”--the late Al Berard’s nickname--and seems obviously an inspiration for the swirls of color in Christine Balfa’s painting used on the album cover.

Three months after Al Berard’s death, the band was playing in Juneau, Alaska, during April. When they stepped outside for a moment, Maegan Berard, Al’s daughter, said “Gosh, I wish we could see the Northern Lights. My daddy would love that.” A short time later, the sky was illuminated by the brilliant colors of this spectacular phenomenon that usually is not visible in Juneau that late in the spring.

As Kristi explained to Herman, “So I came home and was inspired to write that song. So when I sing ‘I’m giving you angel’s wings,’ which is the Aurora Borealis, I’m speaking to Al. It’s like he was there with us.” The words in the stanza are “Je t’écris donc une danse / Un cadeau pour ton âme / Je te donne les ailes des anges / L’aurore boréal.” Other imagery in the song also seems inspired by the band’s trip to an Alaskan landscape.

#bonsoircatin #laurore

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