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Bayou Seco — where NM and Cajun country meet

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Let’s break down the name of the New Mexico folk music treasure Bayou Seco.

“Bayou” is there because core band members Jeanie McLerie and Ken Keppeler met in Eunice, La., where they played Cajun music.

“Seco” is in the name because McLerie and Keppeler have made dry New Mexico their home for decades. And they’ve continued mining the folk music of the state and the region.

Bayou Seco will play a variety of folk music at two concerts in Albuquerque.

Bayou Seco will play a variety of folk music at two concerts in Albuquerque.

The band’s Saturday, Nov. 9 concert at South Broadway Cultural Center will be a musical overview of everything the band has ever played.


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“For example, there’s a song I wrote in 1978 called ‘Quand Le Blues Me Prand,'” McLerie said in a phone interview from their home in Silver City.

“It was kind of a French version of ‘Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.’ The song says, ‘When the blues get me, I can play my fiddle all night or scratch around in the garden or ask you for a hug.'” The “you” in the song is Keppeler.

From New Mexico’s folk roots, McLerie said, they will play some two-steps, waltzes and schottisches. They’ll play some songs they learned from Otero County fiddler-cowboy Peter Lewis, songs that Antonia Apodaca sings, do some of the beautiful waltzes and other dance tunes that Vicente Aragon of Cuba taught them, like the cradle dance.

“Vicente was 93 when we met him. That was in the mid- or late-1980s. We were out there doing an artist-in-residency program. We used to do those programs. The New Mexico Arts Division would send us all over the state,” McLerie said.

“We got to know Toni (Apodaca) because Cleofis Ortiz and I were playing in a Mora school and went to visit Toni at her house in Rociada. …We got her back on her feet musically.”

The Sunday, Nov. 10 concert, which is part of the Walk the Walk Series, will focus on New Mexico’s folk music tradition.

In both concerts, Scott Mathis and Linda Askew will join Bayou Seco on stage.

For the Sunday concert, McLerie said, she’s invited guitarist Marc Robert and some of the “fiddle kids” she has taught in Albuquerque and Silver City.