Cleveland Music Festival
Friday, February 16, through Sunday,
A Cajun band from Louisiana, Charivari might be the best dance outfit in a notoriously danceable genre. The name comes from a word meaning "all-night party" -- specifically ones held outside the bedroom of a couple on their wedding night. Its appropriateness has been lost on few who have heard them get it on. Formerly called the Mamou Prairie Band, Charivari dropped its old name to avoid getting confused with other bands with Mamou in their titles (T-Mamou, the Mamou Playboys). The quintet, which released I Want to Dance With You -- its first album as Charivari -- last year, is fronted by fiddler Mitchell Reed, who compares to the likes of Dennis McGee, Canray Fontenot, and even Michael Doucet (of the world's most popular Cajun group, Beausoleil). The other longtime member is singer-guitarist Randy Vidrine, who sings all of Charivari's songs in Cajun-style French. They've been compared to Beausoleil, but Charivari is no clone. The comparisons come more because this is another Cajun band that could go far to make such an exotic music more accessible to folks beyond the Bayou State. These musicians have forged a sound that's all their own, and it's decidedly frenetic. Only two of the songs on the debut CD break the pattern of high energy Charivari establishes. It's get-down music of the first order.