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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: BeauSoleil is pronounced BO-ZAH-LAY)

BeauSoleil and Dirty Dozen brings sounds of Louisiana to Hancher Sept. 20

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two seasons ago BeauSoleil, the leading exponent of the Cajun music tradition, became the most popular summer concert attraction in the history of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. This fall, fiddler Michael Doucet brings BeauSoleil back to Hancher, in the company of their Louisiana compatriots the Dirty Dozen, for a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20.

The concert, part of the Gazette American Visions Series, will be preceded by a discussion featuring UI folklorist Harry Oster at 7 p.m. in the Hancher Greenroom. The discussion is free to concert ticketholders on a first-come, first-served basis. Doucet has publicly credited Oster for inspiring him to reclaim his cultural roots. Oster was one of the first folklorists to research and record the traditional Cajun music of southern Louisiana.

"There ain't no cure for my blues today, except when the paper says BeauSoleil is coming into town," Mary-Chapin Carpenter sang on her Grammy-winning 1991 hit, "Down at the Twist And Shout," which featured backing by members of the Lafayette, La. band. For many in the popular music audience, that recording may have been an introduction to BeauSoleil, but for many others, including audiences for Garrison Keillor's radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," that song expressed an emotion with which they could readily identify.

BeauSoleil is hailed world-wide by fellow musicians, critics and fans as America's premier Cajun band, and it has garnered six Grammy Award nominations along the way. Rolling Stone magazine dubbed BeauSoleil "the best damn dance band you'll ever hear." BeauSoleil even opened for the Grateful Dead, winning over 17,000 Deadheads in a 1990 Mardi Gras concert.

The musical tradition honored and extended by BeauSoleil originated in the bayous and deltas of southern Louisiana among the descendants of the Acadians, 17th-century French refugees from Nova Scotia. Fiddles, Acadian accordions and vocals take the lead in a festive, danceable mix of old French songs, country and R and B that has proven to have a universal appeal. The name BeauSoleil means "good sun," a French nickname for the Nova Scotia that still lives in Cajun history and dreams.

Cajun culture was on the decline when Doucet came of age in the 1960s, when he gravitated to rock and New Orleans-style swamp pop. But his interest in his Cajun heritage was awakened in the late '60s and early '70s, and he revived the flagging tradition. With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Doucet spent years tracking down the artists who performed on the old Cajun records, immersing himself in what was then a little-known history.

"To me, Cajun music really is the heart of our culture," Doucet says. "It's not the stomach -- we know that's the food. It's music that's the heart. Everybody sings in their own way down here, and that's what keeps us going."

By the mid-'70s BeauSoleil was born, and their career has taken them from smoky backwoods bars to Carnegie Hall. Doucet has kept his eclectic interests alive, including performances on recordings by Thomas Dolby and Keith Richards.

The Dirty Dozen (its name has been shortened from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), with its roots in the New Orleans brass band tradition, has built a reputation as one of the funkiest horn bands in existence. Led by six horns, including a sousaphone, the Dirty Dozen combines traditional New Orleans jazz, funk, R&B and pop ingredients in its own distinctive musical gumbo.

The mixture has proven to have a wide appeal, leading to appearances on David Letterman, the "Tonight" Show and "Austin City Limits." They have performed in more than 30 countries, including Japan, Brazil and Israel.

Among the Dirty Dozen's honors are Jazz Album of the Year from the College Music Journal, five-star reviews from Downbeat and CD Review magazines, and appearances on the Billboard charts.

Their recordings have attracted guest appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Branford Marsalis and Elvis Costello, and they have collaborated on recording projects with the Black Crowes, the Neville Brothers and Manhattan Transfer. They have shared concert bills with Ray Charles, the Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, Miles Davis and the Black Crowes, with whom they recently toured for three months.

Tickets for BeauSoleil and the Dirty Dozen are $25, $22 and $19. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and Zone 3 tickets are available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

The Gazette is the corporate sponsor of the American Visions Series, through the University of Iowa Foundation.