Tom Rigney and Flambeau are coming to town, just in time for Mardi Gras. The Cajun-zydeco band will perform on Monday evening as part of this year's Bakersfield Community Concert Association season at the Rabobank Theater.
This is a busy time for Flambeau, with back-to-back concert appearances throughout the Mardi Gras season. Rigney and his band -- guitarist Danny Caron, pianist Caroline Dahl, drummer Brent Rampone and bassist Steve Parks -- are all veteran musicians with considerable performance credits, including stints with the bands of Charles Brown, Queen Ida, Clifton Chenier, Maria Muldaur and many others.
And while the musicians make their living playing the music of the Mississippi Delta, they all made their reputations in the Bay Area in the American roots music scene.
Rigney, a California native, was already an established fiddle player when he got the Cajun bug and got a call from famed accordionist and bandleader Queen Ida, who was living in the Bay Area.
"Ida was a friend of mine," Rigney said. "She needed a fiddle player for a six-week tour."
"She called on a day when I was between bands."
Rigney said after that tour, he was "hooked" on the music of the Delta.
"I would say the rhythmic intensity, the effect it had on the dancers, that really hooked me," Rigney said.
Soon after, he started the first of several bands, and began creating his own version of the music.
"I was going to take a lot of ingredients of that and make it my own," Rigney said. "I've always been someone who's borrowed elements wherever I've found them and made them into something of my own."
With Flambeau, Rigney has created what has been called "musical gumbo."
"The music is an eclectic blend of a lot of American roots music styles," Rigney said. "Zydeco, Cajun, New Orleans music, rhythm and blues."
"You might also hear Western swing, country, boogie-woogie, rock," Rigney said.
Underlying the various styles are the essentials of Cajun and zydeco -- dance music in the forms of two-steps, shuffles, waltzes and ballads.
"The Cajun music comes out of the Louisiana French Cajun culture of southern Louisiana, and the zydeco comes from the Black Creole and blues music," Rigney said.
"We use elements of both," Rigney said. "We're more Cajun than zydeco, but it's hard to separate the strands."
The group mixes original tunes with their own versions of such classics as "Jambalaya," "Drivin' That Thing" and "House of the Rising Sun." Whatever styles emerge in a performance, Rigney said one thing that's consistent is the passion in the band's work.
"I think (the audience) is always surprised by the variety and the passionate intensity with which we play," Rigney said.
Pro-rated season tickets are on sale at the door and are good for this and the remaining three concerts in the season.