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Cajun music collaborators Randy Vidrine, Mitchell Reed, and Philip Allemond carefully chose the word Tasso for their band's name. The word is imbued with meaning and color in their Cajun heritage.
Southwest Louisiana is a region known as home to the Acadian people, who fled oppression first from France and then from Canada, before settling permanently in the wetlands west and south of Lafayette. Even in their newly adopted home, they remained under attack for practicing their French language and folkways. But living in relative isolation, they continued their unique traditions and music in a culture that today the world knows as Cajun.
In Cajun country, there is a food called tasso--a highly spiced and dried pork sausage that is an essential ingredient in gumbo and other gastronomical delights. There is a community called Tasso, by Bayou Mallet, near Eunice, deep in an area of road houses where Cajuns come to dance at the fais do do's each Saturday. The place figures in many a traditional song.
With these facts in mind, the three musicians formed the group Tasso to do their part to preserve old time traditional music. The names of the group's CD's say as much: The Old Timey Way, and Viens A Ma Maison. Each CD is recorded in French, and favors traditional waltzes and two steps, played in the time honored way favored by the older folks.
Each of the group's members has brought something unique to the musical recipe. Randy Vidrine, who grew up in a French speaking home, and his friend, Mitchell Reed, have been playing guitar and fiddle together for over a decade. They have formed the core of various traditional Cajun bands. Besides Tasso, they have led such groups as Chiaravari, Mouton Noir, and the Mamou Prairie Band. Each musician is great in his own right: Vidrine is a wonderful lyrical singer and guitar player; Reed is a hot fiddle player. Together, their synergistic effect takes the music to another level.
They are joined by accordion wizard, Phillip Allemond. Earlier in his life, Allemond took little interest in his native culture, and its emblematic instrument, the accordion. He played instead mainstream country music, until he was introduced to some of the traditional music by old time Cajun musicians. He met some people in Europe who were more interested in preserving the old culture than he had ever been. They provided him with old sheet music and 78's of obscure songs. His interest piqued, Allemond developed into a Cajun musicologist. Much of Tasso's repertoire comes from his research.
A listener can hear that old style on The Old Timey Way, in traditional songs such as Font de Culotte and Attrape Mon Chapeau. The Viens A Ma Maison CD still maintains the old style, with both traditional songs and some tunes written by Allemond. It has been noted that when Tasso performs, it sounds like old men playing. This is what Tasso had in mind all along. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer
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