The Louvat Brothers at the 2017 Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival
It seems that every band has a Steve! But if given the opportunity to visit with The Louvat Brothers, a string trio based in Belgium, you will find that this talented and musically diverse group offers much more than traditional bluegrass and the never ending display of “Steve, the musician.”
What began at the age of 12 for Steve Louvat (5 string banjo, finger style guitar) and his brother Jefferson (no longer with the band) as an interest in bluegrass music, has taken them all over the world, including India, Europe, Canada and more recently Guthrie, OK. Steve says that the minute he touched the banjo, he literally fell in love with it. Byron Berline met the two brothers at a festival in Belgium in 1995 and, two years later The Louvat Brothers made their debut appearance at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival.
In 2010, with another invitation to appear at OIBF, Steve decided to bring a bass player, Michel Vrydag, on board. His vision was to gather influences from many genres of music, including but not limited to bluegrass, classical, Irish, klezmer, and jazz. The trio set as their goal to play music with elegance, delicacy, eagerness and most importantly, enthusiasm. “We didn’t want to play bluegrass the American way. We came to the festival (OIBF) to play bluegrass our way,” Steve said.
Jefferson left the trio to concentrate on other musical interests, and from there Canadian, Jeff Cardey (mandolin, guitar) hopped on the train. Twenty years later, The Louvat Brothers once again left the Guthrie audience in awe after their poweful performance.
Their style is personal, and world-acoustic style, offering a variety of sounds deeply rooted in the various folk traditions of the world. American bluegrass has met the western European style of The Louvat Brothers, with just a touch of ’70s funk. Their combination of the banjo, mandolin, and bass, mixed with Irish, Celtic and African flourishes, demonstrates the varied musicality of this trio in a manner that is both consistent and contrasting.
The future of The Louvat Brother’s is quite bright, as they continue to travel Europe, the USA and other countries. Bluegrass will never die, though it is changing. It’s deep within the roots of our souls, and has something that won’t be found in other styles. As Cardey told me, “Bluegrass is here to stay. Bluegrass is unique. You just don’t see people jamming together at rock concerts. Bluegrass has purity that you can’t find in any styles; it’s a spice, and when it ferments, it sticks with you.”
Their next album will be released in 2018, but for now, The Louvat Brothers continue to explore humanity throughout music and connect with the souls of others who have the same love, the love of bluegrass.