79-year-old Harry Trahan was once a workhouse accordionist in his younger days, playing four-hour gigs several nights a week for years before semi-retiring to play informal family parties. More than half a century later, Trahan still has his chops and plays with plenty of drive and ornamentation, hence the impetus for this album spearheaded by daughter Lisa of Magnolia Sisters fame. It’s a warm and friendly album of well-played standards led by Harry’s buoyant tone accompanied by Lisa (guitar), Zachary Fuselier and Henry Hample (fiddles). Louie Aucoin anchors the thudding bottom-end on washtub bass.
Though engineer Joel Savoy creates a spacious dancehall sound, the overall vibe is more one of community where practically everyone sings a number or two. Granddaughter Renee Reed does a splendid job dueting with her pop-pop on “Mon Bon Vieux Mari,” a time-honored comical exchange between a wife and her carousing husband. Even Harry’s brother/saxman Willie T joins the action on a couple of bluesy numbers where Harry plays the triple-row accordion with an unintentional Tex-Mex flair.
But what’s most touching of all is the album’s lone original, “La Valse à Reuben,” written and sung by Lisa. It tells the story of how Reuben (Harry’s nickname) lovingly visits the gravesite of his dearly departed wife Elsie with the realization that someday they’ll reunite again but not on Earthly soil.