The Daiquiri Queens (from the album The Daiquiri Queens available as a self-release) (by Chris Wheatley)
Louisiana's latest Cajun sensations, The Daiquiri Queens, were originally only supposed to last for one gig. Back in 2017, when guitarist Jamie Lynn Fontenot was invited by Rennie Elliot of the Blackpot Festival to put a band together for a one-off performance, she gathered friends and jam-partners, rehearsed a few songs and took to the stage. The crowd's enthusiastic response, coupled with the group’s obvious chemistry led the assembled players to conclude that this was a venture worth pursuing. Those players are: Fontenot (guitar) with Miriam McCracken (guitar), John Dowden (accordion/fiddle), Tysman Charpentier (fiddle), Sabra Guzmán (bass) and Chelsea Moosekian (drums).
Fast-forward three years and we have The Daiquiri Queens’ debut self-titled album, and a very fine one it is. Similar to traditional Irish music, Cajun songs make use of an infectious, rolling underpinning of bouncing drums and, in this case, the accordion. The Daiquiri Queens sing in French and opener “Mes Deux Beaux Frères “is a good representation of their exuberant style. This is just a step away from the rockabilly sound which tore up the charts in the mid-1950s. Replace the electric guitar with the fiddle and you're nearly there. There's nothing self-consciously retro or kitsch about The Daiquiri Queens, however. Their authenticity and passion for the art form shines through every second. This is as 'together' a band as you could wish to hear. Extraordinary, really, given that they have only been playing as a unit for such a comparatively short time.
Even on slower cuts such as the rambunctious, shuffling “Une Femme Avec Un Coeur Cassé”, there is a burning energy which lifts these tracks above the ordinary. The Daiquiri Queens is such a 'listenable' album, in fact, that it's easy to forget just how hard it is to play this music this well. There are some beautiful harmonies here, just the right level of strummed guitars and the subtle bass does a great job of pulling everything together. The lovingly-rendered “Plus Tu Tournes” will have you nodding your head and swaying your body even as its gentle yearnings pull at your heart.
Cajun music owes its own origins to the Great Expulsion of the Acadians (descendants of French colonists and indigenous people) from parts of Canada, by the British, in the mid-1800s. Many Acadians settled in Louisiana, itself an important meeting point of musical cross-currents. American Country music traces its roots back to Cajun, and therefore so does Rock'n’Roll and pretty much the entirety of the popular music catalogue.
You can clearly hear the Americana twang in tracks from this record in cuts such as “I’ll Always Take Care of You,” (titled in English but sung in French). Over an easy, rolling gait, fiddles and accordion flutter and float. I'm afraid I can't tell you what the Daiquiri's are singing here, but the sweet-sour pathos is self-evident, stirring images of late-evening sunshine, hazy meadows and lazy-flowing streams. Album closer “Dessus Le Pommier” brings the show to an end with charming hand-clap rhythms over playground-like chants. A delightful finale to a wonderful show.
The Daiquiri Queens produce music which ought to be cherished and which, perhaps, could have come from nowhere else. While many forms of traditional art find themselves stranded in backwaters, or fading altogether, Louisiana has always heralded its particular creative forms. Jazz, Cajun and Creole are central to the region's self-identity. At its best, Folk music (I include the Blues in this) speaks directly to the heart in a way that few others can, conjuring up a sense of shared humanity, of warmth and security even when it speaks of the mundane dangers and troubles of life.
In short, The Daiquiri Queens are good for the soul. (by Chris Wheatley)
Listen and buy the music of The Daiquiri Queens from AMAZON
Visit The Daquiri Queens website for more information