About the Band

“While Cajun music may be hit or miss outside of Louisiana, it’s quite safe in Madison, Wisconsin.” - Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans

The Cajun Strangers are one of the Midwest’s premier Cajun music dance bands. Born out of their love for Louisiana porch music, the band performs Cajun and Zydeco dance music with “unbridled energy and contagious enthusiasm that’s more than enough to entice the most sedentary patron to rise up and shake what their mama gave’em.” (Dirty Linen Magazine)

The Strangers’ first two CDs were featured on the Swallow Records label (based out of Ville Platte, LA), and both won the esteemed award titled the “Prix Dehors De Nous” (The Best Outside of Us) from the Cajun French Music Association in Louisiana. Their third and latest CD, “Louisiana Boogie,” released in 2014, is currently in the running for a third award.

Offbeat Magazine, the New Orleans music magazine, recently declared in their enthusiastic review of Louisiana Boogie, “While the group covers tunes from Lawrence Walker, Iry LeJeune and Belton Richard well, what’s amazing is its depth and versatility.” At a Strangers show, you are likely to hear traditional Cajun, Zydeco, Cajun swing and Cajun blues.

Brian O'Donnell, fiddle

Brian caught the Cajun fiddle bug at the 1999 Ashokan camp in New York, and shortly afterwards started a jam session at his home which evolved into the Cajun Strangers. Brian is a much sought after fiddler in Cajun music circles and he also plays old time music. In addition to the Cajun Strangers, he plays fiddle and guitar in the Madison honky-tonk band the Dirty Shirts, and he plays fiddle and guitar with Colin in the Barley Brothers.

Scott "Boo" Mullarky, guitar, bass

A native born Cajun, Boo was immersed in the music, language, food and culture of Acadiana from day one. He was born into the Cajun enclave in Southeast Texas around Beaumont. In high school his family moved to Acadia Parish and he spent the next ten years living in Southwestern Louisiana. Boo's great uncle, Minos Broussard, was one of the original guitar players for the Hackberry Ramblers and gave Boo his first lesson on the six-string at the age of five. Boo has been playing guitar ever since and specializes in rural Southern picking styles. Years of finger-style and slide guitar playing made lap steel a natural cross-over. Boo was asked to join the Cajun Strangers after he showed up at one of the shows and sang the song his father always requested for his mother, "'Tit Yeaux Noir", by Lawrence Walker.

Tom "Big Nick" Nickel, accordion, fiddle

Performing music has been a life-long endeavor for "Nick". His first memory of a live performance was by way of his mother, playing an old Gibson guitar, which she had purchased during the great depression. ("Nick's" father was less fond of 6-strings and played 4-string Tenor guitar.) Nick has created and performed in numerous bands over his career, the latest having been the now defunct "Big Nick & the Cydecos". He has authored several Cajun Accordion DVD lessons and enjoys traveling to SW Louisiana. Tom also plays keyboards in the Madison honky-tonk band the Dirty Shirts.

Colin Bazsali, drums, harmonica

Colin has been playing music most of his life. Originally a jazz drummer, he set aside percussion for the folk guitar, harmonica, and banjo and began exploring traditional American musical forms, especially old-time banjo. This led circuitously to Cajun and back to the drums, which he has played with the Cajun Strangers since early 2005. He is the drummer for the Madison honky-tonk band The Dirty Shirts, and currently plays banjo, mandolin, and guitar with Brian in the Barley Brothers.