ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 12, 1991
By Steve Newton
Zydebilly, cajun metal, garage zydeco—critics have been falling over themselves trying to find words to describe the music of Lafayette, Louisiana’s Bluerunners. But singer/guitarist Mark Meaux has his own idea.
“Individually, all those terms—cajun, zydeco, punk—describe really great genres of music. But jumbling them all around like that takes all the meaning right out of them. I’d rather people just thought of us as a butt-rockin’ Louisiana band.”
Vancouverites with a desire to get their behinds bumpin’ can witness the Bluerunners at the Town Pump next Friday (September 20) on a bill with Calgary’s awesome masters of instrumental surf-raunch, Huevos Rancheros. The Bluerunners have been winning plenty of raves for their self-titled debut album, which came about after the group spent years as a rockabilly cover band with a penchant for Gene Vincent tunes.
“That’s why I came up with the name Bluerunners,” says Meaux, “because I wanted it to be like [Vincent’s band] the Blue Cats. We did a lot of Gene Vincent, and we also tried to get obscure covers, which meant going through piles and piles of records and finding one-hit wonders.”
Then one day, drummer John Maloney brought a rub-board—the traditional cajun rhythm instrument—to rehearsal. So long, Gene Vincent.
“We realized that it worked really well as a percussion instrument,” says Meaux. “And then we started writing zydeco lines on the guitar that could be played on accordion, and vice versa.”
Because they were born and raised in Lafayette—the steaming hub city of cajun country—all four Bluerunners had gotten a good earful of the area’s traditional music stew by the time they decided to add their own spice to it. And their efforts caught on quickly in those parts.
“We kinda lucked out,” explains the 29-year-old Meaux, “because every week for two seasons there’s a street party in Lafayette, and every Friday night we’d hit the bars right after these parties. So that really helped us, because it attracted all ages and we knew we were doin’ something that wasn’t solely for the college crowd. It was much harder than any other zydeco or cajun band, but at the same time it wasn’t so foreign that they couldn’t figure it out.”
As well as his traditional heroes like Michael Doucet and Beausoleil, Meaux says it was Los Lobos’ success in crossing over with its chicano musical heritage that really inspired the band to go the roots way. That, and a love for California alternative bands.
“My favourite bands at the time were X and the Blasters, and it’s not really that far of a stretch, when you think about it. The whole punk thing was just do-it-yourself, just strip it down so that it’s the emotional qualities of the music that are the focal point, not the excess stuff. And that’s what roots music is—that’s what zydeco is for sure.”