The title of Michael Doucet’s new album, Lacher Prise, means “let go” in French. And that’s exactly what the veteran New Orleans musician and leader of the band BeauSoleil set out to do on the 10-track set, including its cover of the late Boozoo Chavis’ lively “Lula Lula Don’t You Got To Bingo,” which Billboard premiers today (Feb. 13).
“The story of the album is kind of like a saga,” Doucet — who was pitched the project by Compass Records’ Garry West after he released BeauSoleil’s last album, 2013’s From Bamako to Carencro — tells Billboard. “It really is about letting go — let it all go, all your ideas, all your projections about anything. You let them go. It’s a Buddhist term, also, a renunciation. Things aren’t what they seem, so you just take the things as they are, as they come. That’s the gist of the whole record.”
At Lacher Prise‘s core, however, is a new corps of players, a quintet that came together during Mardi Gras of 2018 and includes singer-guitarist Sarah Quintana — who Doucet met wearing a pink wig at a local bar — guitarist Chad Viator, bassist Chris French and drummer Jim Kolacek. The group recorded Lacher Prise in a quick three-day burst at the legendary Dockside studios in Maurice, La. “It became, I think, an evolution in that it became just a fun project,” Doucet recalls. “These kids are in their 40s and they have so much energy, and I can do what I really want to do with them. I love all music, and this gives me more freedom to do that musical journey I’ve been on all my life. We just got in there and let the magic happen and take us over.”
While Doucet says that “some of the songs we obviously had to work out for a while” — relative given the short length of the recording sessions — “Lula Lula…” was the first and only take of that track. “It’s just so much fun; You do it, and you can’t do it any better than the first track,” Doucet explains. “I loved Boozoo. He was always a great friend. He and I played together a lot of places and I always liked his humor and his attitude. It’s a very simple song but it gets people going. So this is like my tribute to him — in the most frenzied and energetic way.”
Doucet hopes to do more with the Lacher Prise band, but he promises that BeauSoleil is still a going concern as well. “BeauSoleil is an amazing group,” he says. “When we formed the band we said, ‘Let’s Cajunize the States. This is North American music, created in the United States.’ I said, ‘Let’s play every stage,’ and we did that — every state, at least three times. So BeauSoleil is very much still alive. It’s a different kind of extract, a different kind of way of looking at things, very much a live thing. I’ll always be playing in that band, I think, but it’s also nice to step out of it and into something else for a while.”
Listen to “Lula Lula Don’t You Go to Bingo” below.