‘Papers In My Shoe’ by Kelly and Woolley – doing honor to Cajun roots

(August 26, 2015)

As an American, I’m always wary of making statements like ‘these guys are new to me’ in case I receive a flood of complaints about ‘colonials’ not knowing anything about British folk musicians. Even so, Matt Kelly and Gary Woolley were unknown to me, until ‘Papers In My Shoe’ an album that states on its cover: ‘We’ve been doing this for years and decided that it was time to record an album.’ In case you’re as kelly-and-woolley papers in my shoe
ignorant as me, Kelly and Woolley are an acoustic duo from Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, UK, and for a couple of English guys they certainly rip out some damn fine Cajun, bluegrass and country music, with some touches of British folk for good measure.

Their music draws on some classic Cajun roots, the five Balfa Brothers, accordion players Lawrence Walker and Austin Pitre, BeauSoliel and that great zydeco musician Boozoo Chavis, and they deliver that music exactly as should be sung with true deference to the singular French-spoken form of the originals. Their versions of Cajun ‘traditionals’ such as ‘Port Arthur Blues’, ‘Jolies Joues Roses/ Parlez Nous á Boire’ and ‘Flammes d’ Enfer’ are performed with real empathy with the originals, while ‘Danse de mardi Gras’ has all the energy it demands, while ‘Papers in my Shoe’ has all the laid back swing that Boozoo Chavis would recognise.

To prove their range they also add self-penned songs, Woolley’s ‘The Train Never Stops’ and Kelly’s ‘When I Was Young’ (words credited to Mrs Moore, Co Durham, collected by WG Whitaker) they also turn out a creditable ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean’ and Paul Metsers’ ‘Farewell to the Gold’ - but for my money it’s with the honor they do to Cajun music that they’re really at home.


Review: Tom Franks

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