<i>Les Femmes d'Enfer</i> has been coalescing as a band since the spring of 1994 when Sandy, Claudia, Claudette and Laurie began getting together in Seattle to play Cajun music. Claudia had been playing old-time fiddle for a number of years. Sandy had played various instruments since childhood including piano, hammered dulcimer, and African marimba, but had only recently taken up Cajun bass. Claudette (our official Cajun) was born and raised in Grand Caillou, Louisiana and had been singing Cajun songs since childhood; she began playing her accordion since 1993. Laurie had just begun to learn the guitar, though she had a long history of involvement with the local music and dance scene. Their weekly meetings were a fun way for all of them to learn new skills in the company of friends.
In July of 1994, Sandy, Laurie, Claudette and Claudia went to the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, where they met Tami who had recently moved to the area. Tami had played her fiddle since grade school and was learning tradional American and Irish music at that time. Sandy, Laurie, Claudette and Tami were part of a group that formed a band during the weeklong band workshop, debuting as <i>Bayou Boudreaux and Her Basically Boyless Band</i>.
Back in Seattle, Laurie, Sandy, Claudette, Claudia and Tami began playing together weekly. In September of 1994 they were invited to play their first gig at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Festival. They scrambled to put together a 50 minute set and are grateful that no known audio recordings of that gig exist! At that time, Laurie came up with the band's name as a play on the traditional tune <i>Les Flammes d'Enfer</i> (The Flames of Hell).
In February of 1995, Julia, who grew up playing classical flute and had played with an old-time band in Seattle, joined the band. She played with <i>Les Femmes</i> for their third gig at the Sunshine Factory in Auburn, WA. She has been a regular member of the band since that time, playing triangle, rub-board and flute.
The band has worked hard to learn a great repertoire of traditional Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music as well as a number of original songs. They also combine other talents: Laurie is a songwriter, artist, and costume designer; Sandy handles mailings and bookkeeping; Claudia is the advertising and recording label wizard; Julia is the web femme and graphic designer; Tami does PR; and Claudette (a former DJ) is sound engineer.
<i>Les Femmes d'Enfer</i> is a well-seasoned band and put on an entertaining show; their costumes and energy are as festive as the music they play. They've played for festivals, dances, private parties, radio shows, parades, weddings and commitment ceremonies, as well as in shopping malls and taverns. In 1999 they produced their first CD <i>Hot Flash!</i>, followed in 2003 by their second CD <i>Femmes!</i>. By virtue of being an all-woman band, <i>Les Femmes d'Enfer</i> stand out in what has traditionally been a male-dominated musical genre with their distinctly feminine approach to the music and performance.
In their other lives, these women moonlight as librarian, writer, mother, harbormaster, hair stylist and nurse, but when it comes to heating up a dance hall, they live up to their name: The Women From Hell!