The show will start with a set by Michot's Melody Makers, and Leyla McCalla will join for a special second set. Louis Michot and Leyla McCalla have been collaborating for the past five years on various projects, and this past year's quarantine live-streams, and a rare 2020 (socially distanced) live performance at Music Box, brought opportunity for Leyla to mesh her sound and repertoire with Michot's Melody Makers for a Creole psychedelic string-band who's material stretches from Acadiana Haiti, and New Orleans to France. Come check out Michot's Melody Makers feat. Leyla McCalla for yourself on May 20 at the Broadside in New Orleans.
Michot Melody Makers was formed in 2015 by Louis Michot, front man for the Grammy award winning Lost Bayou Ramblers. The band was awarded best Cajun Band of 2018 & 2019 by Gambit’s Big Easy Awards. Their sophomore release, Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn out on Nouveau Electric Records has been described as “swamp psychedelia” and “both danceable and experimental” following the debut release on Sinking City Records, BLOOD MOON, a snapshot of how this electric string band pushes the boundaries of Cajun traditional music. What began as a rotating cast of members, the band now features a dedicated lineup with Mark Bingham on guitar, Bryan Webre on bass, and Kirkland Middleton on drums. The Melody Makers reinvigorate historic compositions and introduce sublime new melodies, all while evoking soundscapes inspired by a time when drums and amps first electrified Cajun music.
Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, Leyla’s music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive and contemporary. Leyla’s debut album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes, was named 2013’s Album of the Year by the London Sunday Times and Songlines for its haunting mixture of music and message. “Her voice is disarmingly natural, and her settings are elegantly succinct…her magnificently transparent music holds tidings of family, memory, solitude and the inexorability of time: weighty thoughts handled with the lightest touch imaginable,” wrote The New York Times. A limited release at the time, the album saw it’s re-release in October 2020 from Smithsonian Folkways Records, its topics only amplified by the year’s social and political unrest. “[The album] is an illuminating conversation between artists both past and present, and balm for the soul,” said Bandcamp.
Her album, A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey (2016), continued to explore themes of social justice, and included guests Rhiannon Giddens, Marc Ribot, Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers and others. Through deeply felt originals and interpretations of traditional songs, the album depicts a diverse American experience and Leyla’s struggles with and acceptance of her own cultural identity.