The history of La Blusa starts in 1988 with an idea of Henk de Kat from Delft, the Netherlands. Henk was already been busy some time with the discovery of the cajun and zydeco roots music from the southern parts of the USA. Artists like Clifton Chenier, Rockin' Dobsie and Queen Ida were making music Henk was very attracted to.
Henk decided to approach some Delft musicians to form a band. After an experimental period with several different musicians, in 1989 the first La Blusa was in the pipeline.
As was usual for every starting band in those days, a demo tape ( audiocassette ) was produced. Already in the beginning, not only traditional cajun songs were covered, but their own compositions emerged. Here is an example from the first La Blusa audio tape : Tee Fee.
Henk de Kat devoted himself to get the band on the road. A lot of promotional material was sent around. And all the work was not in vain, gigs began to come in. Apparently people appreciated the sound and appearance of the cajun and zydeco music. In an astonishing tempo the requests for gigs had increased so much, that the band was on the road almost every weekend. And the reactions to the live performances were overwhelming. So, the band came up with the idea to publish their music on a quality audio carrier to sell at gigs. And subsequently in 1990 the in house CD "Dance on" was released. Listen to the title song of the CD.
The CD was not only sold at gigs, but was also sent to radio stations and booking agencies. And from that point on, the attention for La Blusa came into a rapids. The requests for performances became more interesting. Not only was a tour along festivals, clubs and bars in the Netherlands carried out, but also gigs across the border in Germany and Belgium were performed.
Some highlights of La Blusa in that period were :
At the end of 1993, while La Blusa was preparing for a new CD, Aart de Bruin left the band. A quest for a suited successor was started. Through the grapevine we heard that a saxophone player from Wassenaar was available. Wouter Kiers was invited to our rehearsal cellar to jam a bit with the band, and it was soon clear that La Blusa wanted this talented musician to join the group. There was also a little time pressure, because studio time was already reserved for February 1994 in the Fendal Sound studios and rehearsals for the recording sessions had to start. With Wouter on sax that went very well.
Earlier in 1993 La Blusa had been approached by the artist agency buro 3WF. They layed out a plan to make a new album, and according to them, a record company had already been found to release the CD. La Blusa agreed to set apart a substantial amount of money from gigs to finance, in advance, the preparation and recording of the material. The recording sessions were a very inspiring activity. Click here for an impression. Good studio, good songs ( example ), good sound, nice people and a lot of humor. But the CD never came out. All there was at the end was a very expensive demo.
Was it naivety? Was it excessive eagerness? Was it inattention ? . . . . . The result was that the disappointment had it's impact on the band. Still the ongoing playing season was continued and even a TV performance was done. The season was finished with a city park tour through Belgium, and in August the band went on summer holidays.
After the summer Holidays the band got together to review the situation. In that meeting Henk de Kat and Leo Nijenhuis intimated that they saw no future for the band. The rest of the band however had a different view. They wanted to keep La Blusa alive. That meant, that the remaining members of the band had to initiate a quest to find capable substitutes for Henk and Leo. And after a thorough search they found Geert Verhaar ( accordeon, ex Les Charmeurs ) and Nick Hall ( bass ) willing to join the band.
Keeping La Blusa on the road turned out to be a good choice. Gigs kept coming in and in a surprisingly short time the band became again an oiled swinging machine. With the new line up of the band the sound shifted a little direction rock.
In 1990 the Dutch band "Captain Gumbo" had the one and only cajun hit in The Netherlands with the song "Allons à Lafayette". This created a wave of enthusiasm for the cajun and zydeco music. When La Blusa started as band they could benefit and also ride the wave. After a couple of years however the peak of enthusiasm for the cajun and zydeco music was over. And that was the situation in which the "new" La Blusa was placed. But because the band name was already settled, the offer for performances did not dry. What followed was a couple of years of nice touring through the country along bars, parties and festivals. Legendary became the "after gig party" whereby Geert and Wouter, after the band was packed to go home, unpacked their accordeon and sax again and began playing popular tunes to finish of the night. In those days the band often only arrived back home as the birds began to whistle in the morning. From that period there is not much audio or video coverage, but as an impression the following photo video was made, supported by a track from the CD "2 Dance On" : Come on.
After about 2 years Nick decided to leave the band. He had other plans in life. With Jan Pardon a very capable successor was found. In 1998 the in house CD "2 Dance on" was released. The CD was send around to podia, record companies and TV and radio for promotional purposes. Striking was that especially the reactions from regional broadcasters was positive. Even the band was approached by TV West to make a video clip of a song from the CD. The track "Tequilla Sunrise" eventually reached the 6th place in their top ten, between artists like Anouk, Golden Earring en Billy the Kid.
By some dissension in the band, Geert Verhaar left the band in 1999. The band however still did gigs after Geert left the band and tried to fill the musical gap with enthusiasm (no replacement) or session musicians ( guitarists, keyboard players). But that was not the solution : the sound was gone. Replacing the accordeon by another (or no) instrument appeared to be no option. The accordeon was essential for the typical La Blusa sound.
So again the band was faced with the fact that an accordeon player had to be found. After a while the band overheard in the rumor circuit that an accordeon player from Nieuwegein was available. Contact with Ron was quickly organized and he was invited to join a rehearsal evening. At first the band was surprised by the instruments Ron brought with him. They were no regular accordeons, but as he called it, "trekzak" (squeezebox). A kind of accordeon whereby pull or pushing, under one knob a different pitch is heard. Also the instrument is diatonic ; contains only the scale of one key (like a bluesharp mouth organ), instead of a piano for example, which has all the tones. But the unexpected input of this instrument did not spoil the fun. On the contrary, it became a very inspiring musical evening. The skill and groove of Ron on the squeezebox convinced the band to ask him to join La Blusa.
Ron quickly found his way within La Blusa. And not surprisingly the sound of the band changed positively towards more rock and groove. It was then decided to release an upgrade of the CD "2 Dance On" , called "2 Dance On Remix". Two typical "Ron" tracks were added and on the other tracks the accordeon of Ron was heard. Also an upgrade for the album was the collaboration of Onno Kuipers (ex Louisiana Radio), a virtuoso accordeon player. Now there was a CD, which did La Blusa right. In this clip you see a battle between the squeezebox (Ron on the left) and the accordeon (Onno on the right). The recording is not that well, but still nice to see.
2000 further was a fairly normal year in terms of performances. Except our tour through Tsjechie in August. A tour where beforehand a lot was promised to us, but little came true. Nevertheless the band had a great time over there. Still some very special gigs were executed and there was a lot of laughter. Very particular was our contribution to the (in Tsjechie well known) Trutnov "Open air music festival" In this clip an impression is shown.
The next 2 years passed without much particularities. The band was still on the role with about 40 performances a year. However ; Wouter became more and more popular in the music scene and was asked a lot for all kinds of sessions outside La Blusa. Also he had started some individual musical projects. All in all his private carrier as a sax player began to interfere with his permanent membership within La Blusa. Beginning 2002 it was decided in mutual agreement, that La Blusa would proceed as a four mans band with, when suited, sometimes contribution of Wouter. It was a big challenge for the four guys that remained, because Wouter had always put a big stamp on the sound and presentation of the group. And in the 9 years he was there he grew into a hard to replace part of the band. But the remaining members picked up the towel and began to do the gigs with 4. And that worked pretty well. For the sound, more burden was placed on the shoulders of Ron, but Ron carried it resplendently. What remained was : four guys who still brought a tight and swinging piece of music.
In 2003 La Blusa began to feel the need again to compile a new album. In their rehearsal studio cellar in Delft new material was composed and adaptions of older material and traditional's were made and recorded. It became an album on which the band continued scanning the boundaries of the "Cajun and Zydeco" music. At a presentation party on January 25th 2004, the CD "Louisianergy" was released. As an experiment a homemade video clip of the trigger of the CD was made. For the rest it was a rather normal year for the band. Nice gigs, good CD sales.
In 2005 a quieter period began for La Blusa. Still some nice performances were done. Special was our contribution to "Blues on the river" that year. But one way or another the spirit vanished a little, maybe not so strange for a band that was already traveling through the country for over 16 years. Members of the band began to participate in other music projects. La Blusa went into a kind of hibernation.
This period lasted about until the end of 2008. Then surprisingly the phone began to ring again, and La Blusa was invited for some gigs. After some rehearsals the concerts were done and it felt very familiar, as if the band has had no pause at all. At the invitation of Henk Arts, a music friend of Jan, in October a little weekend trip to the Auvergne in France was done. He had arranged 2 concerts over there. During this weekend the boys of the band realized that they actually had missed the ambience and playing pleasure of the band. It was then decided to wake La Blusa from hibernation. Places to play were contacted, and within a rather short time the band was on the road again. A new band photo was made to confirm the new start.
The photo shows a good reflection of the new enthusiasm of the band. In the spring of 2010 saxophonist Tom Moerenhout came to strengthen the group. The boys of the band still had the need to enrich the sound of the band with Sax. In the meantime again the thought for a new CD album surfaced. And after several evenings of talking about the idea, the band come up with a surprising concept. Take a series of classic hits from past and present, and adapt them to the La Blusa sound. This idea was tested during live performances and what the band already quietly hoped, was confirmed. The combination of well known songs with the steady sound of La Blusa worked very well. Every gig became a party, with a strong participation of the public. So this was the way to go. And the preparations for the new album were started. In peace and quiet the songs were arranged, rehearsed and digitally recorded on a simple lab top audio set up (like home recording). In the autumn of 2012 the recordings were ready and mixed. The whole project was executed under own management.
On January 20th 2013 the CD "Dance the night away" was released with a party in "Plan B" Delft.
Normally the story could end here. The band plays on, sells CD's , hold a party to celebrate their 25th anniversary and lives happily ever after. But there is still a little tail to the story.
Ronald heard from a music friend in Delft, that there was a record company in Friesland that was looking for new original material. After checking their site, the band became enthusiastic about the company. And so on a Friday in September 2013 a copy of our latest CD album with an accompanying letter was sent to Marista in Dronrijp. Surprisingly, already after the weekend, on Monday morning the band was contacted by Marista with the story that they wanted to do business. And on Friday that week, a meeting already took place, in which the details of the collaboration were discussed. They not only want to release the CD as such, but they would like to compile an album with tracks from our "cover" CD combined with earlier work from La Blusa. In mutual agreement 6 tracks from the CD "Dance the night away" and 6 tracks from the La Blusa archives were chosen to fill the album. All the tracks were remixed and professionally mastered. For the promotion a video clip was made.
And now for the first time in the existence of La Blusa an album via a record company (with all the advantages it can bring) is released. The CD is called "Gold / 25 years" and will see the light in the spring of 2014. You can imagine more exciting times will come for La Blusa.
Till sofar, Henk