In a salute to “Jolie Blonde,” a heartbroken waltz now 90 years old, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles celebrates the role of women in Cajun and Creole music this weekend at Girard Park.
It’s a notion that wasn’t lost on the Daiquiri Queens, the female-fronted Cajun band making happy feet at festivals and dance halls for some two years now.
As it happened, Daiquiri Queens bandmates and guitarists/vocalists Miriam McCracken and Jamie Lynn Fontenot listened to a song, “Mes Deux Beau Freres,” that neither knew existed.
“I listen to a lot of Cajun music, so it’s rare that I hear something that I haven’t heard before,” McCracken said. “And we were like, ‘Who’s that? We got to figure it out.’ ”
So they found the source of the song, and it was Dale Dugas. The song was on her one and only 1993 release “Chanteuse Cadjinne” on Swallow records.
“Basically, it’s one of those gems in Cajun music,” McCracken said of the CD. “I mean, it’s not uncommon to find these little secret albums that you may not have heard, but this one stood out as totally unique because of her and the collaboration with Johnnie Allan."
And with the festival honoring women in Cajun music, "We thought we would just honor one of our biggest inspirations, which is her,” she said. “So, we’re doing a set of a bunch of her songs.”
The band plan to wear tops with Dugas’ image from her album.
The Daiquiri Queens, which also includes John Dowden (accordion/fiddle), Tysman Charpentier (fiddle) and Sabra Guzmán (bass), plan to honor Dugas with a chunk of her songs from the 26-year-old release from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday at Salle de Danse.
“The whole album was amazing,” said McCracken. “We were totally obsessed with it, listening to it nonstop.”
At first, information on the singer was as scarce.
“Her name is the only name on the record. We only found out the players on it through later research,” McCracken said. “So, that got me. And all of the songs on it are originals, and I’ve never heard any of them before.”
Save for one: “Just Someone I Used to Know”/"Quelqu’un Que Je Connaissais," a country song performed by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner that's "one of my favorite country songs to sing,” McCracken said.
The 10-song CD credits Johnnie Allan as the songwriter.
“And then the other cool part of the story was our accordion player (Dowden) did some detective work and figured out who the musicians were on the record,” McCracken said. “And they’re all these monster players.”
The musicians include Chad "Smiley" Cormier, drums; Junior Dugas, background vocals, bass guitar; Brian Bourque, bass guitar; Jimmy Domengeaux, rhythm & lead guitar; Ricky Dugas, steel guitar, background vocals; Murnel Babineaux, steel guitar, fiddle; Carl Hollier, accordion; Johnny Sonnier, accordion; and Johnnie Allan, background vocals.
“Basically, her song choice was unique, the style of music was the kind that I love with pedal steel and accordion and a great fiddle player,” she said. “So, yeah, it kind of had that Cajun-country sound.”
The band learned some of the songs off the recording “and they’ve become our big, fun hits for our band to play when we play out in shows,” said McCracken. “We recorded one of them ('Mes Deux Beau Freres') for our upcoming album.”
The release that has a street date sometime this fall/winter.