Ensembles are central to our curriculum in traditional music. "Traditional Music Ensemble" is ultimately a flexible concept with the potential to take many forms, depending on student interest, initiative, and instructor availability. Common to all of these ensembles is an emphasis on learning by ear and on traditional repertoire; occasionally we also have students who write new music in traditional styles. Currently we offer ensemble instruction in Cajun music, zydeco, bluegrass, string band, and rhythm & blues (R&B). Other ensembles offered in the past include acoustic blues and Latin music.
Auditions take place at the beginning of the fall semester, as well as at other times as needed. To arrange an audition or learn more, contact the School of Music office at 337-482-6012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Angelle Aces (taught by Blake Miller) offer up traditional Cajun French dance music, sung in French with core instrumentation of button accordion, fiddle, and guitar. This group has usually played in acoustic format, but recently we have “plugged in,” adding drums and electric bass.
The Zydeco Ragin’ Steppers (taught by Nathan Williams Jr) bring a range of traditional and contemporary zydeco. Instrumentation typically includes accordion (button and/or piano-key), drums, rubboard, electric bass, and one or two electric guitars. Sometimes we also add an electric keyboard, or a trumpet or a saxophone.
A set list for Vermilion Express (taught by multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Richey) typically includes a mix of classics from the likes of Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Jimmy Martin along with more contemporary material, including an original or two or an arrangement of a pop song in bluegrass style. Classic bluegrass instrumentation is an acoustic lineup featuring banjo, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and upright bass. Dobros are also welcome.
The Saint Street Songsters, an ensemble started in Fall 2021 by Revelers guitarist Chas Justus, play with diverse influences from Texas swing, “hot jazz,” and black string bands from the 1920s-30s. This group’s instrumentation, we like to say, can include “anything with strings on it,” especially guitars, fiddles, mandolins, ukuleles, or an upright bass.
The Ragin’ & Blues Band, led by legendary bassist Mr. Lee Allen Zeno, specializes in old-school (and some not so old) rhythm and blues. This group runs on electric guitars and bass, drums, and powerful vocals, and keyboard and horn players are always welcome.