Tom Rigney & Flambeau light up the Divide

Tom Rigney and Flambeau light up the Divide

By Betsy Schwarzentraub

 

Tom Rigney and Flambeau lit the audience on fire at Georgetown’s IOOF Hall on March 19, 2017 with sizzling music and a spirited stage presence. The Music On The Divide concert brought longtime fans and new enthusiasts to pack the house and cheer their foot-stomping, eclectic music.

The heart of it all is Tom Rigney, a world-class fiddler who plays a fiery bow with dancing passion to match. A prolific composer and songwriter, he has chosen band members who are equally virtuosic in their own right, putting together a high-energy, powerhouse performance. Longtime musical partner, Danny Caron fingers the electric guitar with inspired improvisation. Steve Parks plays the electric bass with a big tone and sings the Blues with broken-hearted soul. Brent Rapone’s drums are a powerful part of Rigney’s rhythmic signature. And Caroline Dahl burns up Boogie Woogie, Cajun and Zydeco tunes with New Orleans-style playing on the keyboard.

Flambeau’s sound goes beyond American Roots Music. It’s a scorching blend of Boogie Woogie, Blues, Cajun, Country, Zydeco and Rock and Roll – America’s homegrown music, which Tom Rigney has taken all over the world. Performing songs from Rigney’s recent twin-fiddle CD with Michael Doucet, they sang “They Call Me the Breeze,” by the great Roots writer, J.J. Kale, and a rollicking “Last Will and Testament.” Another song from that CD was “Le Bal a Chataigner,” a Cajun two-step about a fiddler playing on as his love fell in love with someone else.

The Louisiana stylings continued with a Mardi Gras tune called “Maman Rosin,” an all-out “Hounded,” and a wild “Guinness and Gumbo” featuring solo riffs from the guitar, piano and fiddle. Finally came the great New Orleans classic, “Iko Iko,” with a calypso feel and Steve Parker singing lead.

Blues and bayou songs began with “Windowpane Blues,” written back in 1929 by Tommy Bradley. Parker belted out his sorrow at his “baby’s leavin,” as the fiddle cried out on high notes. In response, the crowd went wild. By contrast, “Jambalaya” was a festive celebration of bayou living, including Rigney’s coming down off the stage as he played, while the audience sang along.

Then Flambeau performed a haunting version of the quintessential Blues song, “House of the Rising Sun,” with every instrument doing a solo of soulful suffering. Another melody filled with Cajun Blues Rock was “Swamp Fever,” a fast Zydeco number featuring thrilling runs on the keyboard, eliciting shouts and clapping from all in the Hall.

For a change of mood, Rigney and Flambeau played specially requested “Catalonia,” with its low, rich tone that eases into your heart. Another surprise was Rigney’s original composition, “Consolation,” what he called “a lullaby for grown-ups,” with a sensual, lyric quality to the violin’s melody line. Switching moods once again, the group performed Rigney’s Latin-flavored “Mazatlan,” “The Eyes of Love” from his waltz CD, and “Little White Dot,” about our place in the universe, featuring electric guitar and keyboard.

But the music went white hot when they came to Rock and straight-out Boogie Woogie. “Caroline’s Boogie” nearly brought down the house with hands clapping and bodies swaying, as it picked up its pace to a racing conclusion. The song about Old Uncle Bill “Drivin’ That Thing” gave us all a wild ride, highlighting each one of the instruments in solos. “Hey Little Dancer” had a floor-shaking beat with playing back and forth between the keyboard and fiddle. And they came to a blazing conclusion with the famous “Orange Blossom Special,” delivered with electric energy. You would have sworn that train came right through the Hall, complete with whistle, brakes, and the violin hitting a higher note than you’d think it could go. Everyone leaped to their feet in wild applause.

On April 9, 2017, classical concert pianist Jason Sia will play at the IOOF Hall in Georgetown at 3 p.m. For more information, go to www.MusicOnTheDivide.org.