It's no slur on legions of contemporary Cajun bands to call BeauSoleil, fresh from winning another Grammy, the greatest Cajun band of its generation. For one thing, many of those bands wouldn't even exist if it hadn't been for the efforts of Michael and David Doucet and their band mates in the early '70s to learn, interpret, and carry on the repertoire of a then-fading generation of Cajun musicians. A pair of tunes from one of the greatest, fiddler Dennis McGee, kicks off BeauSoleil's new and in many ways most expansive album, Alligator Purse (Yep Roc). Michael's vocals still wail and cry as if a swamp fire's on his tail, as does his fiddle, while David's guitar scrambles all over every tune with a restless spirit. But the repertoire embraces such a wide swath that it feels like Cajun Nation ascendant. There are classics with fresh arrangements ("Bosco Stomp," "Carrière Zydeco"), redefined lost nuggets (the Latin-tinged "Théogène Créole"), the blues via Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan ("Rouler et Tourner"), Bobby Charles swamp pop, contemporary songs by Julie Miller and J.J. Cale, Creole jazz with a modern jolt ("Les Oignons"), and a slew of seamlessly integrated guests (Natalie Merchant, Garth Hudson, John Sebastian). It's good old BeauSoleil, but at a peak of broad-minded innovation. Opening will be the Sweet Colleens, the local Celtic-Americana outfit whose last album, Half a Mile from Home, sported a guest fiddler named Doucet.
Fri., Feb. 20, 7 p.m., 2009