When Spider Stacy and Cait O’Riordan from the Pogues meet the Lost Bayou Ramblers, they make Poguetry together.
The Pogues, of course, are the Anglo-Irish folk-punk band from London that featured Shane MacGowan and his great songwriting. Lost Bayou Ramblers are the powerfully adventuresome Cajun band that celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and won a Grammy award last year.
Stacy, a singer and tin whistle player, nicked Poguetry’s name from the Pogues’ 1986 EP, Poguetry in Motion. He and the Lost Bayou Ramblers debuted their musical hybrid in August 2015 at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans. They’ve since performed together in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and, last August during the Ramblers’ 20th anniversary tour, Brooklyn Bowl in New York City.
Adding even more Pogues to Poguetry, bassist and singer O’Riordan played her first shows with the project last December. The whole gang will be together again for shows at Tipitina’s in New Orleans on December 13 and The Pearl in Lafayette on December 14. “We could make it an annual tradition,” O’Riordan said from New York City, where she’s a regular performer at the Irish Arts Center.
The seeds for Poguetry—which features Stacy, O’Riordan and the Lost Bayou Ramblers playing Pogues songs—were planted in 2010 at One Eyed Jacks when Stacy experienced his first Ramblers performance. Michot brothers Louis and Andre and their Ramblers bandmates knocked the Englishman in New Orleans out. “Just the power and the noise,” Stacy marveled. “I get a real blast out of playing with them and hanging out with them. Apart from being a great band, they’re great blokes as well.”
Stacy later made a guest appearance on the Ramblers’ Grammy-winning 2017 album, Kalenda. A New Orleans resident with his wife, Louise, since 2010, he contributed tin whistle to “Si J’aurais des Ailes.”
Last year, Stacy invited O’Riordan to visit Louisiana and perform with Poguetry. “That was amazing,” she said, “for Spider to just out of the blue get in touch and say, ‘I’ve met these Cajuns, and we’re playing Pogues songs.’ I just thought, ‘How fun.’ Those Michot brothers, they’re a real force. It’s such an unexpected and fantastic combination, with Spider and Shane MacGowan’s amazing songwriting.”
“Cait,” Stacy said, “lifts the whole thing up to another level.” Ramblers singer-fiddler Louis Michot agrees. “Being the bass player, she remembers things in a different way than Spider does,” Michot said. “It completes the experience for us, because she’s in the rhythm section. She brings a whole new understanding [of the Pogues’ music].”
O’Riordan’s contributions to Poguetry include her lead vocals for the ballad “I Am a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day” and her duet with Stacy in the Pogues’ beloved Christmas classic “Fairytale of New York” (originally sung by MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl). Maybe even more importantly, O’Riordan adds genuine Pogues screams to Poguetry. “Louise and Spider tried to explain all these background vocals to us,” Michot said. “But we didn’t get it because we’re just some Cajun dudes from Louisiana. They have a whole other way of screaming. Spider and Cait are part of a whole other world of music that we’re not used to.”
Despite the differences, Pogues songs fit the Lost Bayou Ramblers well. “It’s not a huge transformation,” O’Riordan said, “because the Cajun lads, they have the energy and that dual consciousness thing that, looking back, was so important for the Pogues. The Cajuns. they have their culture, but they’re also living in that mixing pot of New Orleans and standardized American culture and all your history from Cuba and the old world. They’re representing multiple cultures and channeling that. And it was the same with the Pogues. We weren’t English. We were London and Manchester and, me and Shane, were second-generation Irish. We weren’t monocultural. That’s something I sense very much in the Lost Bayou Ramblers. They’re channeling these strong streams of proper old culture and making them new. There’s that transformation every time we plug in and start making the noise. And that’s the only kind of thing I’m interested in, really. You can’t guess what’s going to happen. I love that.”
Stacy and Louis Michot both say Poguetry may enter the recording studio. “Originally,” Stacy recalled, “I just thought it would be great to have the Lost Bayou Ramblers doing Pogues songs. It was really as simple as that. But now I’ve seen just what can be done. It’s pretty exciting. I’d be very interested to hear what we can do in the studio, making use of the psychedelic and experimental sounds that the Ramblers use.”
“It’s a high possibility,” Michot said of potentially recording Poguetry, “because we’ve been playing a few years and now Cait is in the mix. We’ve come to an interesting place with Poguetry. It’s just so fun and so natural and so easy.” O
Poguetry, featuring Spider Stacy and Cait O’Riordan from the Pogues with the Lost Bayou Ramblers, performs December 13 at Tipitina’s in New Orleans and December 14 at The Pearl in Lafayette.