The Lost Bayou Ramblers are now on hiatus. Their show Saturday night at One Eyed Jack’s was their last “hé la-bas” before they take a long-awaited and much-deserved break. Fortunately for their huge collection of fans and followers, however, they’ll be back—likely in time for Jazz Fest. But while the Ramblers may be taking a break from being the Ramblers for the next six months or so, they’re not taking a break from music altogether. And this is not the last you will hear from them in the interim.
Every guy in the band will take this Lost Bayou interlude to work on side projects and play in their other bands—Louis Michot, Bryan Webre, and Kirkland Middleton playing in Michot’s Melody Makers; Andre Michot and Eric Heigle travelling with Take Me to the River, a national tour of New Orleans music, and also playing with the Riverbend Ramblers; Jonny Campos jamming with the Carbon Poppies and releasing an album in Spain; and all of them pursuing various other musical endeavors. As you can see, this hiatus is more diversifying than downtime; more musical variety than vacation. As the Ramblers’ lead singer Louis Michot explained, the hiatus is really about changing things up and keeping burn-out at bay. “Most artists require diversity for sanity and financial reasons. Doing one thing or relying on one thing can get stressful, and it can get stressful both financially and energetically,” he said. “I think having different sources of creative and financial fulfilment is important for any artist.
“We’re just trying to give ourselves a proper break,” he continued. “It’s definitely not a break-up or an end, it’s just a pause.”
Their final, farewell-for-now gig at One Eyed Jack’s the other night did not disappoint. They definitely went out with a bang—rhythmic, banging drums; pealing fiddle; clinking triangle, wailing guitar, sighing accordion, and all the other melodious sounds that together make up the eclectic and unique music of the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Theirs is the type of music that makes your glad you’re from Louisiana.
Earlier, as Givers took the stage to open for the Ramblers, I couldn’t help feeling that it was an unusual choice of opener. It felt a little like Snoop Dogg opening for Led Zeppelin, or maybe Fall Out Boy going on in front of Jimmy Buffett. Both LBR and Givers are great bands, but I didn’t see the connection. Now, however, I am the first to admit that I was very wrong, and I stand corrected. I was pleasantly surprised to see that when the two bands took the stage together to play a few songs—including a lively rendition of the theme from Ghostbusters—they blended perfectly. While Givers are more pop rock and Lost Bayou Ramblers are more Cajun roots rock, their common denominator is rock, and they definitely rocked One Eyed Jack’s Saturday night. (Both bands also hail from Lafayette, Louisiana, so they have that shared connection as well.)
Overall, it was another great show by all these musicians from Lafayette. Michot turned up in his signature jumpsuit—a bright red one for this special occasion. The band played many of their greatest hits, such as “New Iberia Haircut,” “Nezpiqué,” and “Kalenda,” the title track off their Grammy Award-winning album by the same name, and the crowd was really into the music throughout the entire set. In fact, because this was pre-Halloween weekend, there were even several scarecrows, a dead girl, a five-foot cherry Icee, and a giant chicken dancing to LBR’s energetic and catchy tunes.
In between a couple of songs, the guys—and a select few lucky, chosen fans in the front row—toasted shots of whiskey in plastic cups, perhaps for good luck on their upcoming non-Rambler projects, perhaps to say “Until the next time, y’all” as they temporarily go their separate ways.
The night ended on a high note: a three-song encore that was the perfect send-off for the Lost Bayou Ramblers to head out on their next musical adventures, and the perfect take-away for the audience, who will miss them terribly while they’re gone.
It’s been just two days now, and I’m already suffering from withdrawal.