I Want to Dance With You
(Rounder, 2000)

Charivari's I Want to Dance With You is hearty and full of life from the first track until the last.

The band is Mitchell Reed, fiddle, Randy Vidrine, guitar and vocals, Lois Sprague, bass, triangle and 12-string guitar, Ben Goodwin, drums, and Zach Hunal, accordion. Guest musicians include Michael Doucet playing second fiddle on "Torchon's Reels" and mandolin on "Arc de Triomphe Two-Step," Sam Broussard, guitar, and Brazos Huval, saxophone, on "Arc de Triomphe Two-Step," and Kevin Wimmer, fiddle, on "I'm Lonesome Tonight."

Reed and Vidrine co-wrote many of the songs and tunes, retaining a traditional flavor in their original expressions. The music is dance music -- reels, two-steps, waltzes. But the songs tell stories, albeit in French, and the melodies, both for songs and instrumentals, will have you up and moving in a heartbeat.

Reed's fiddling is as robust as a mug of strong black coffee, and the rich sound sets off Vidrine's somewhat mournful twangy vocals which impart a sense of heartbreak beneath the surface, even on the up-tempo tracks. Huval's accordion ripples and laces its way through the fiddling, trading off the lead.

Sprague and Goodwin should not be dismissed lightly. Both serve more than admirably in providing a crisp and well-paced rhythm. They give the tracks a solid underpinning which never plods.

Some of the tracks are playful, such as the "The Monkey and the Fiddler" or "Pascal's Egrets" while "The Woman I Never Forgot" is a sweet romance. There are slower pieces at waltz tempo: "I'm Lonely Tonight," the title track "I Want to Dance With You" and "La Derniere Fois." Others are played at a dance-until-you-drop pace -- "Torchon's Reels," "Kissell's Reel" and the grand finale "Arc de Triomphe Two-Step." Charivari connects with zydeco tradition in "Jolie Bassette" and tweaks an old tune with new lyrics in "I Don't Like to Work." "Femmes," with its wonderful hip-rolling rhythm is loosely based on a traditional tune, and the band makes it their own.

Charivari's I Want to Dance With You is a delightful, sparkling CD, coheseively arranged and performed with crackling energy.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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