Finally, I'll mention the French Creole music of Dennis Stroughmatt, whose third album of French folk music from Missouri and Illinois is entitled La Belle Blondine. People unfamiliar with this somewhat obscure ethnic music will find it similar to Cajun music, especially fiddle-driven bands like the original Balfa Brothers. In fact, Stroughmatt plays several instruments, but he leaves his accordion at home and concentrates here on down-home fiddling and singing. The songs are mostly old traditional ballads in French, a couple of which I've recorded myself, and it's nice to hear Stroughmatt's interpretations of such pieces as "Mon Père N'Avait Fille" and "Alouette." On the title cut, Stroughmatt's voice has an almost Roy-Orbison-like sweetness, which isn't so strange when you remember that Orbison's first paying gig was singing the Cajun standard "Jolie Blonde" in a medicine show. Stroughmatt's fiddle has the drone-rich, fluid sound of country Cajuns, and his band contributes both country twang and Cajun chanky-chank, with steel guitars and bass from Wade Bernard, and mandolin and triangle from Rob Crumm. Stroughmatt is a folk music collector as well as a musician, and in most cases he has direct sources for his songs within Missouri and Illinois. (However, it sounds like his version of "La Belle Francoise" came from the Canadian band Garolou, which is no bad thing!) It all adds up a rollicking good listen and a sweet tribute to those pockets of French culture that many of us forget about.