When Tommy Alesi gets chugging hand-to-hand on the snare in a train beat, the band cooks and people kick away their chairs. Alesi’s band is Beausoleil, considered one of the best Cajun groups in the world. And you can hear why on their latest album, Looking Back Tomorrow.
Alesi’s participation with the group began in 1978, when he joined up with Beausoleil leader Michael Doucette. “I brought only a snare drum and I played brushes,” recalls Tommy. “About ’83, I added the bass drum and hi-hat. I didn’t start playing a full kit until the late ’80s. The group was pretty much acoustic, and I didn’t want to scare them away from having a drummer!”
Cajun drumming requires solid interplay between bass and snare. Tommy prefers a Yamaha kick, but on the road he’ll play les drums du jour. He’ll bring a 7×12 Spaun drum, great for brushes. He keeps the snares semi-loose because it “adds character.” Cymbals are Sabians combined with old Zildjian hats. “The group is sensitive about cymbals,” he states, “so I look for crash cymbals that dissipate quickly.”
Let the future unfold, says Tommy. “We don’t project way ahead. I just like going out and playing. It’s really just a fun thing to do.”