Blog February 4, 2014
Sidi Touré & Cedric Watson's "Pa' Janvier" Blues

We’ve been feeling some serious Pa’ Janvier (French for “Father January” or “Spirit of Winter”) blues lately. So the time is right for this latest 78 Project episode with International Blues Express, a collaboration of Malian musicians Sidi Touré and Abdoulaye Kone dit Kandjafa with the Cajun players Cedric Watson and Desiree Champagne. Together, the musicians share a common Francophone background, along with an overlapping musical heritage. although the cultural differences between Sidi Touré’s Songhai tradition and the American blues certainly shouldn't be overlooked. As Touré says in an interview with Afropop, “The blues is there. But we play it a little different.”

Previously, the group performed a Malian song of celebration for 78 Project, the documentary and recording series that takes its inspiration from Alan Lomax. This time the group has recorded a rather more tragic Cajun tune, chosen by Watson, whose virtuoso fiddle playing matches that of Touré on the guitar. Watson found the song, a plea to Pa’ Janvier to bring a man’s fiancée back from the dead, in a 70s documentary on the legendary Creole fiddler Dennis McGee. In just one take, the band records the song with ngoni, guitar, washboard, and fiddle into a 1930’s Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorder. Hopefully Pa’ Janvier will be as impressed by this collision of the Cajun history with the Malian guitar and ngoni as we are and lighten up a little bit as we head into February. You can see (and hear) the song for yourself below: