Cajun and zydeco music is not just for old people

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Geoff Himes has a nice article in the March 4, 2007 NY Times about young Louisiana Cajun bands like the Pine Leaf Boys, and how they are attracting a young audience in Louisiana. I know that there are also young Louisiana and Texas Creole zydeco bands who incorporate rap and funk into their sound. Now I discovered Louisiana sounds when I was in my 20s. Years later though, in the DC area at least, the only people who go to zydeco and Cajun shows are fanatic Cajun and zydeco dancing couples who also discovered the music back when i did or even before. The Pine Leaf Boys play to 40 something and up only crowds here in the DC area. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that (since I'm in the over 40 age group myself)? Maybe there's not enough media attention to attract current 20 year olders the way I was intrigued by Joe Sasfy articles in DC papers and Christgau and others mentioning stuff in the Voice? Maybe cuz the groups uysed to play bars years ago and not just dances (where folks who can't do all the 'right' steps might feel intimidated). Whether you worry about this or not, you can weigh in here on zydeco and Cajun sounds... I'll post the Pine Leaf Boys article below...

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 March 2007 14:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Pine Leaf Boys NY Times article

March 4, 2007
Cajun Sound, Rock ’n’ Roll Energy

THIS wasn’t a show for Mardi Gras tourists. On Lundi Gras, as they call the day before Fat Tuesday in south Louisiana, the Pine Leaf Boys were onstage before a crowd of locals at the Grant Street Dancehall here. The five musicians, all in their 20s, played songs by Cajun legends like the 1950s accordionist Iry LeJeune and the 1930s fiddler Dennis McGee, but the dancers who were packed shoulder to shoulder on the well-worn wooden floor didn’t seem to care about the history. They were more interested in the visceral excitement of the band’s signature song, “Pine Leaf Boy Two Step.”

The songwriter Wilson Savoy, a long and lanky accordionist in a white mesh farmer’s cap, sang in Cajun French with whoops of excitement. A bleating melodic phrase from his button accordion was echoed by a high-pitched fiddle line and shoved along by an impatient rhythm section of guitar, bass and drums. A spell was cast, combining a mysterious past — the nearly forgotten dialect and the archaic squeezebox’s red bellows — with an unabashed rock ’n’ roll energy conducive to the elbow-flying, hip-swiveling spirit on the dance floor.

The band sustained that spell for 90 minutes. The fiddler Cedric Watson, dressed in a blue Cajun Mardi Gras costume with yellow and green fringe, closed out the show with a new arrangement of “Zydeco Gris Gris.” Mr. Watson sawed out the infectious tune and led the cries of “Zydeco!” The musicians’ fellow 20-somethings in the crowd hollered right back.

This was the Pine Leaf Boys’ seventh show in five days, and if you had spent the Mardi Gras weekend in Lafayette, the biggest city in the Cajun region known as Acadiana, you could have also seen the Lost Bayou Ramblers at the Blue Moon Saloon on Saturday night and the Red Stick Ramblers at 307 Downtown on Sunday night. At each spot you would have found young dancers responding with the same enthusiasm.

These three Lafayette bands, with a fourth — Feufollet, a teenage group that spent the weekend touring the Midwest — form the core of a renaissance in Cajun and Creole music. After years of recycled arrangements and graying performers and listeners, Acadiana’s dance halls are suddenly filled with young musicians, young dancers and a hard-rocking approach to the old acoustic instruments.

Next month Arhoolie Records will release the Pine Leaf Boys’ second album, “Blues de Musicien,” an impressive recording that may vault them onto the national roots-music scene — though probably not onto the pop charts. They are introducing the album with an East Coast tour that brings them to Connolly’s in Manhattan on Sunday night.

Cajun music is the fiddle-and-accordion-based sound invented by French immigrants in rural southern Louisiana and first recorded in 1928; Creole was the variation created by their African-American neighbors. In the 1990s Cajun and Creole were eclipsed on the local music scene by zydeco, an outgrowth of Creole that was bluesier and more percussive. There were some great zydeco acts in the ’90s — Beau Jocque, Boozoo Chavis, Geno Delafose, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas — but they largely abandoned the fiddle, the waltzes and the French language, all essential elements of Cajun and Creole. The Pine Leaf Boys are able to bring back those neglected Cajun aspects without sacrificing any of zydeco’s dance-floor excitement.

“Cajun music has survived because it’s dance music,” Mr. Savoy, 25, said before the show. “Cajuns have a need to go out on a Saturday night to a dance hall and have a good time.”

When he goes out to dance, Mr. Savoy said, “I want to hear a 25-year-old kid jamming on the accordion in a bar where young people are screaming on Football Friday.” Then again, “I don’t want to hear five two-steps in a row,” he added. “I want to hear a waltz so I can get close to a woman.”

ON the Sunday afternoon before Mardi Gras, Marc and Ann Savoy gave a tour of the home where their four children, Wilson, Joel, Sarah and Gabie, developed their deep affection for Cajun culture. Outside Eunice, La., northwest of Lafayette, the 1911 white farmhouse with the yellow trim and red roof sits at the end of a long driveway flanked by old cypress and oak trees and at the center of a 200-acre farm that belonged to Marc’s grandfather. There are home movies, Ann Savoy said, of her children in their pajamas sprawled on the screened porch with their coloring books while some of the greatest figures in Cajun music — Dennis McGee, Dewey Balfa and D. L. Menard — jammed with the parents of the oblivious children.

Like many Acadiana musicians Wilson and his siblings more or less inherited the family business from their parents. Marc Savoy is one of North America’s most respected makers of button accordions, smaller and reedier-sounding than piano accordions. His shop, the Savoy Music Center in Eunice, sells Cajun instruments and recordings. With his wife and the fiddler Michael Doucet of Beausoleil he plays accordion in the Savoy-Doucet Band; last year he self-released his latest solo album, “Marc Savoy Plays Cajun Accordion: Back to the Basics Savoy Style.”

Ann Savoy, a singer and guitarist, has her own bundle of projects, including the Zozo Sisters, a duo with Linda Ronstadt that resulted in the 2006 album “Adieu False Heart” (Vanguard). Nominated for a Grammy for best traditional folk album, it lost to Bruce Springsteen last month.

Ms. Savoy’s parents were jazz buffs in Richmond, Va., and she revisits those roots on a swing record to be released in May, credited to Ann Savoy and Her Sleepless Knights. Meanwhile her all-female Cajun band, the Magnolia Sisters, is working on a second album of traditional Cajun children’s songs. And the second Savoy Family Band album, with Marc, Ann, Wilson and Joel, is set for a summer release.

“Music was a part of the household,” Ann Savoy, 55, recalled. “The instruments were all over the place. We didn’t make a big deal about taking lessons. We just said you can pick up an instrument and join in if you want. Sometimes the best way to drive children away from music is to pressure them to play.”

Marc Savoy, 66, added: “When Wilson said, ‘Daddy, can I play your accordion?’ I said, ‘Sure, but you have to treat it with respect, because it’s delicate. But don’t expect me to show you anything. You have to figure it out for yourself.’ ”

He admitted that later, after he saw that his children were serious about music, he showed them a thing or two. “This music is part of who we are as a family and a people,” he said, “so you don’t want to screw around with it.”

The Savoy tradition was also passed along to Joel, who was a founding member of the Red Stick Ramblers. He didn’t adapt well to the band’s grueling road schedule and amicably departed to start a new Cajun-Creole label, Valcour Records. His most recent release is “Allons Boire un Coup: A Collection of Cajun and Creole Drinking Songs.” Featuring contributions from the Pine Leaf Boys, the Red Stick Ramblers, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Feufollet, Ann Savoy and Joel Savoy himself, the disc’s combination of old songs and fresh approaches is a fine introduction to the lively revival.

“I want to document what’s going on here,” Joel Savoy, 26, said, “because it’s exciting to see all these young kids playing this weird traditional music with accordions and fiddles and to have all these young kids eating it up like it’s the coolest thing ever.”

Joel Savoy’s commitment to the Cajun-Creole revival includes organizing a traditional Courir de Mardi Gras near his parents’ home. This old rural Mardi Gras run features costumed revelers on horseback or foot going from farm to farm to beg for chickens for the gumbo pot while a Cajun band wagon plays on an old hay wagon.

In recent years the courirs in many Louisiana towns have allowed floats, beads, recorded music, uncostumed onlookers and drunken fights until, he said, they became a bad parody of Mardi Gras in New Orleans’s French Quarter. So he and his childhood friend Linzay Young started a traditional courir.

“Linzay and I have always been into creating our own scene,” Joel Savoy explained, adding, “We did that with the Red Stick Ramblers and now we’re doing it with our Courir de Mardi Gras.”

So it was that at 9:30 on Mardi Gras morning 300 people in screen masks (made from window screens), conical caps and fringe-draped costumes stood in the front yard of Joel Savoy’s neighbor, Rick Smith. Mr. Smith was on his roof, holding a writhing, flapping chicken in each hand. He was willing to donate them to the gumbo pot, but according to custom he was going to make the maskers chase and catch the chickens. The maskers responded by stretching out whichever hand wasn’t holding a beer.

Meanwhile, beneath a tree in the yard, Joel’s brother Wilson, dressed in a plaid costume with gold and maroon fringe, was playing accordion while Joel, decked out in a red and yellow costume, was playing fiddle. It was Cajun music for catching chickens, and the two brothers were beaming.

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 March 2007 14:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I need novamax (Lomax) from Houston to add some wisdom here, and the American Routes people.

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 March 2007 16:41 (fourteen years ago) link

The Bluerunners, also from Lafayette, have always had a big dose of punk energy.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Monday, 5 March 2007 21:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Yea, I think they're still around. I saw them up here in DC and once down in Louisiana.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 05:09 (fourteen years ago) link

A sad article

Losing Louisiana

This Robert Buckman article says that in Louisiana small zydeco clubs are closing and Creole-Americans are losing interest, although some zydeco bands are playing to bigger crowds in more anglo clubs.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 14:39 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, when I was living in Richmond, you'd get large doses of this stuff in Anglo clubs and at festivals.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 23:04 (fourteen years ago) link

In DC it is now less heard at clubs and festivals. Just mainly special dances ala swing dances and folk contra events. It's interesting (and disappointing) to see how now the music seems most popular around the US only to over 40 white folks though (I remember when under 40 white folks got into it), and in Louisiana and Texas it is appealling to, well --I'm not sure, it depends on whom you talk to how many Creole Americans of whatever age are still into it (and Cajuns too). The only under 40 folks outside of the gulf coast who seem the most remotely interested are jamband types (and I do not like jamband sounds at all)!

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 23:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Sounds cool, I wish the show had been this Sunday instead.

calstars, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 00:37 (fourteen years ago) link

On the Houston-Beaumont zydeco Web site, there are about a dozen zydeco shows listed in the Greater Houston area in the next week alone. There is zydeco on black radio here and about six or seven Creole Catholic churches that hold dances. And it's not just an old crowd that goes to these shows -- crowds for the rap-influenced groups like J. Paul and the Zydeco Nu-Breed and Nooney and the Floaters have a median age of about 30.

Zydeco is kind of the unofficial soundtrack to spring time in Houston. There are lots of crawfish boils this time of year and you can't have one of those without zydeco. (Or brass band music if you're rollin' NOLA style.)

Creole fiddler Cedric Watson of the Pine Leaf Boys is from near here; so is accordionist Corey Ledet, another ardent neo-traditionalist. (Ledet is from the prosperous suburb of Sugar Land; Watson is from the rural town of Sealy, which is about 40 miles west of Houston.) What's striking is that both of these young guys have turned up their noses at the easy money they could get pandering to the zyde-rap market to play the super-trad music they love, which has meant that they have had to go to Louisiana. There they can play for both the Creole old-timers and the young (often white) kids who seem to be leading another South Louisiana cultural renaissance.

I also found that Buckman article pretty sad, but possibly flawed. It could be that he just talked to the old guard. Zydeco is definitely not frozen in time down here, and just because a 40-year-old joint run by a 89-year-old man is having trouble does not mean the music is dying out. It could be that his audience has died off, the type of zydeco he likes is no longer hip, or his place now seems shabby compared to a nicer joint across the Parish that might even have its own beer license. The same rock clubs don't stay cool forever -- why should zydeco be any different?

Which is not to say that casinos aren't tough competition for club owners, 'cause they are. And here in Houston, there are a few places that don't bother with bands and opt for zydeco DJs instead. (They will mix in country, soul-blues, R&B and the odd rap tune, too.)

Roger Wood's book Texas Zydeco is a must-read for anyone curious about the state of modern zydeco, as well as its all-too-often neglected Texas history.

As for Cajun music, there is almost none here and I recently wrote a column wondering why the hell that was so. My guess is that the Cajuns assimilated more. The Creoles had a lot more cohesiveness -- as Catholics they were apart from the black community and it has always been their churches that have held them together. Cajun emigres to Houston have never had their own parish churches -- they just mixed in with the Catholics that were already here. And that's a bit weird since there are so many of them -- more here than in all but a couple of La Parishes according to census data -- and Houston does have Catholic churches that started out German, Polish, Mexican, Vietnamese and even an Italian one if I am not mistaken. (Most of the urban churches that aren't black or Vietnamese are now Mexican or Central American in any case.)

This article was spurred on by seeing the excellent young Cajun swing revival band the Red Stick Ramblers. I caught 'em at the Continental here -- don't miss 'em if they come through your town.

novamax, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 04:48 (fourteen years ago) link

Unfortunately, I did miss the Red Stick Ramblers the last time they came through town. Of the young Cajun bands, I've only seen the Pine Leaf Boys but not the Red Stick Ramblers, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, or Feufollet. I think J. Paul and the Zydeco Nu-Breed once came through this way (hmmm, I forgot whether I saw them). I did see Lil Brian and the Zydeco Travelers, a Houston area group that incorporates old-school funk into their zydeco sound. Lil Brian told me awhile back that he's doing more gigging in Europe and around the US then back in Texas.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 09:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I saw Lil' Brian in 1997 in Nashville and his music was one of the things that cemented my then-shaky decision to move from there to Houston.

Yeah, he doesn't play here that often because he has become expensive, so that angle of the Buckman story does have some merit now that I think about it.

CJ Chenier also lives here and rarely plays here, but in his case it's not just his fee. There is some animosity toward him from the other bands...Not sure how much is over the Clifton connection or because they think he is overrated or what, but people really hammer him down here. (At least that was the case about six years ago.)

novamax, Wednesday, 7 March 2007 18:43 (fourteen years ago) link

Thanks for all that info.

curmudgeon, Friday, 9 March 2007 13:59 (fourteen years ago) link

[Removed Illegal Link]

From the Times of Acadiana

story by Nik belanger, Times staff
photos by Leslie Westbrook


"Sid Williams, owner of El Sid O's Zydeco dance club, holds his local liquor license Monday at the club. Williams said there's a possibility that he will close his club when the license expires.

As zydeco gains popularity around the globe, local support dwindles. El Sid O's may soon close its doors permanently, ending the legendary venue's multidecade reign as Lafayette's premiere zydeco stop.

They don't dance at El Sid O's like they used to. The club, which at one time brought excitement to the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and St. Antoine Streets every weekend, now holds only a few dances every month. ...."

curmudgeon, Friday, 9 March 2007 14:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Acadiana article

Hopefully I posted it right this time

curmudgeon, Friday, 9 March 2007 14:11 (fourteen years ago) link

But the Grant Street club in Lafayette is apparently doing ok.

curmudgeon, Friday, 9 March 2007 15:25 (fourteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Lots of zydeco and Cajun action down in New Orleans at the Jazz & Heritage Fest (Aka Jazzfest). I'm not there this year, but here's one of likely several folks blogging about it:

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 April 2007 16:55 (fourteen years ago) link

I wish some of those Houston zydeco bands would come up to DC. We just keep getting the same ol' Louisiana acts (they're not bad, I just want something new).

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 14:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Longtime Offbeat writer John Swenson has an article in the May issue of that magazine about how zydeco no longer has performers competing and claiming the title of King of the genre (like in the Boozoo vs Beau Jocque days or way back when with others). He does not mention any Texas zydeco bands though (but notes how zydeco has developed a following internationally). The article confirms for me why I lost interest in Terrance Simeon--he just wants to reach aging deadheads and jamband fans. Ugh. He does talk about Boozoo's relatives and Rosie Ledet. I haven't seen her or heard her in years, but I always loved her early double-entendre filled stuff.

curmudgeon, Monday, 14 May 2007 15:57 (fourteen years ago) link

I gotta research those Houston bands...

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 15 May 2007 04:16 (fourteen years ago) link

Bois Sec Ardoin died. Story in the Louisiana Advertiser:

This Creole accordionist was something special.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 20 May 2007 04:07 (fourteen years ago) link

Bois Sec with Canray on Youtube.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 20 May 2007 04:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Not punk, but plenty of soul, was Balfa Toujours, at least live; I haven't heard their albums. Started by the daughter of Dewey Balfa, I think, and some other offspring of the Balfa Brothers involved at some points. Wanna say they're broken up, though hope not. There's also some excellent cajun and zydeco on the soundtrack to a German movie, Shultze Gets The Blues. It's about a German folk fan who gets totally bored with middle age, and comes to the American South, and it's got German-American bands, and the Bobby Jones Czech Band, and Kerry Cristensen, who combines Swiss- and Jimmie Rodgers-associated yodelling (the combination, or unbroken connection, seems to have its own party tradition in the Southeast-Southwest cusp that Schultze is travelling) Cajun and zydeco incl. Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, The Creole Connection, Carriere Brothers,Zydeco Force, Cleoma B. Falcon (some of these are from Shultze's collection, apparently, like 78s)Forced Exposure's where I got mine.

dow, Sunday, 20 May 2007 19:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Kerry "Christensen," that is.

dow, Sunday, 20 May 2007 19:52 (fourteen years ago) link

Yea, Balfa Tujours are nice Cajun. I also have fond memories of the late Dewey Balfa. I found the below at a website:

With the birth of their second child, Sophie Jo Powell, born February 12, 2004, Christine Balfa and Dirk Powell and Balfa Toujours have not been touring as much lately, but the group is still making appearances at select venues around the country, including a performance before a crowd of some 5,000 in El Paso, Texas, in June 2005. Meanwhile Dirk Powell has been busy with a variety of projects, including performing on Loretta Lynn's Grammy-winning album.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 20 May 2007 20:02 (fourteen years ago) link

Forgot she'd married Dirk Powell! Good to know they'll be back, apparently/hopefully.

dow, Sunday, 20 May 2007 21:27 (fourteen years ago) link

Not all zydeco or Cajun, it's Texas accordion music in Houston courtesy of Ramiro Burr's San Antonio blog:

It's down to the final seven contestants in the Texas Folklife's 18th annual Accordion Kings & Queens show and The Big Squeeze. Film producer Hector Galan will be in Houston Friday, June 1 to work on his latest project, 'The Big Squeeze,' a film about Texas Folklife's first accordion contest, including the June 2 Accordion Kings & Queens concert at which the winner will be chosen.

Performing at the 2007 Accordion Kings & Queens concert will be Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Mingo Saldívar y Sus Tremendos Cuatro Espadas, Ginny Mac & the Road to Texas Band Miller Outdoor Theatre is located at 100 Concert Drive in Hermann Park.

And, the seven contestants in the big squeeze are: George Arechiga, Mission; Jose Ricardo Calleros, Mission; A.J. Castillo, Austin; Juan Longoria Jr., Brownsville; Matt Tolentino, Dallas; Robert Vega

curmudgeon, Saturday, 2 June 2007 20:33 (fourteen years ago) link

I wonder who won

curmudgeon, Sunday, 3 June 2007 04:21 (fourteen years ago) link

Still wondering. Maybe google will eventually help me find out.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 3 June 2007 14:20 (fourteen years ago) link

three months pass...

LSU website that lists lots and lots of zydeco and Cajun bands, offers bios, and links

curmudgeon, Saturday, 15 September 2007 20:14 (fourteen years ago) link

Maybe that music critic guy from Baton Rouge Advocate who shows up here every once in a while to do ask some research questions will have something to add.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Sunday, 16 September 2007 01:27 (fourteen years ago) link

I just went to a zydeco dance with Rosie Ledet and her band band tonight. I hadn't seen her in years but have always loved her sultry soulful voice. They are still worth seeing even if you don't have the proper zydeco dancing footwork down. They're gonna be in NYC at Connolly's in midtown Sunday night.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 16 September 2007 05:04 (fourteen years ago) link

I do not think she did my fave cut though, "I'm Gonna Take Care of Your Dog (Show him where he can bury his bone)."

curmudgeon, Sunday, 16 September 2007 12:29 (fourteen years ago) link

My two sons were on stage with Buckwheat Zydeco last week.
Sorry, had to tell someone.

Jazzbo, Sunday, 16 September 2007 12:49 (fourteen years ago) link

That's cool (I once sneared at Buckwheat and Dimension 5 (Haikunym Cibula) rightly took me to task for my snobbery. Buckwheat has a zydeco kids cd, right. Plus I think he used to play in funk and soul bands in the 70s.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 16 September 2007 23:20 (fourteen years ago) link

I was a Zydeco skeptic until I saw Beau Jocque perform at the Mid City Lanes Rock 'n Bowl back in the early '90s. He was a pretty intense performer, which I guess you have to be if you want to be heard above the sound of balls smashing into bowling pins.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 17 September 2007 01:37 (fourteen years ago) link

Beau's bass player, Chuck Bush, was on guitar with Rosie Ledet at the zydeco dance the other night. He added more fuzztone than you usually hear from a zydeco axe-slinger.

curmudgeon, Monday, 17 September 2007 04:48 (fourteen years ago) link

one month passes...

Saw Rosie Ledet last month, and Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners last night (I think they're playing in Providence tonight and New York City Sunday night). Need to blurb more about this. Plus I've been reading about various festivals and stuff.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 27 October 2007 17:02 (thirteen years ago) link

Nice funky bottom from Leroy Thomas' rhythm section. Plus covers of Ray Charles, Hank Williams and the Everly Brothers. He does some of the same songs that Geno Delafose does. Like Geno he takes a traditional approach--that means he can get '70s style funky but no hiphop influence like some of the younger guys. Zydeco couples dancing when done right is so cool. But I don't have the time to practice.

curmudgeon, Monday, 29 October 2007 14:33 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Article published Nov 19, 2007
Popular accordion player Zydeco Joe dies at age 64
Herman Fuselier
Funeral services are pending for musician Zydeco Joe, aka Joseph Adam Mouton of Lafayette, who died Saturday at Lafayette General Hospital. Mouton was a popular accordion player, known for hits such as "You Can't Rooster Like You Used To," "Poppa Jack" and "Jack Rabbit."
Mouton was 64. Syrie Funeral Home in Lafayette is in charge of arrangements.

Joseph Mouton, Mouton's son, confirmed Sunday that his father died from complications related to strep pneumonia. After several attempts to revive Mouton from cardiac arrest, he was declared brain dead Saturday afternoon. Mouton was kept on life support for 24 hours so his organs could be harvested for donation.

Mouton's death came as a shock to many in the zydeco music community. He had performed Nov. 10 at Rock the Moon, a KRVS listener appreciation party, held Nov. 10 at the Blue Moon Saloon. He also played Wednesday during the 21st Annual Thanksgiving Zydeco Food Drive at El Sido's Zydeco and Blues Club.

Cullen Washington of Lake Charles, his longtime producer, said Mouton was preparing to go back into the studio. His recent CD, "Black Cat" on Zydeco Gumbo Records, had become a best seller. Washington was ordering more copies for distribution.

Washington remembers Mouton as "a giving person" who often played for elderly residents nursing homes. Mouton was also proud of his Creole roots and the French language used in his music.

"What you see with Zydeco Joe was what he was," said Washington. "He used to tell me he might not be the best accordion player.

"But I used to tell him he might not be Keith Frank or J. Paul, but nobody could beat him at what he did. Not many could do the old school zydeco and the Creole French like he did. He was a natural guy."

Mouton was born Oct. 25, 1943, in rural Lafayette Parish. Although he played guitar as a teen, Mouton did not learn accordion until he was 45. A close friend, Robley Hebert, died in an auto accident and his mother gave the accordion to Mouton.

Dudley Broussard, a nursing home resident, showed Mouton how to play blues and old-style, zydeco tunes.

After mastering the instrument, Mouton formed his Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler Band in 1988. The group played clubs and festivals from Lafayette to New Orleans, along with some out-of-state appearance.

Mouton recorded two CDs, "Jack Rabbit" in 2001 on Maison de Soul Records of Ville Platte, and "Black Cat" in 2006.

curmudgeon, Monday, 19 November 2007 20:22 (thirteen years ago) link

Man, that's terrible. Me and a friend of mine here in Houston have a two-man Zydeco Joe cult. "Can't Rooster Like You Useta" is a classic.

novamax, Tuesday, 20 November 2007 12:15 (thirteen years ago) link

Awesome song title

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 November 2007 19:26 (thirteen years ago) link

two months pass...
croc style - boom like that

CaptainLorax, Sunday, 27 January 2008 21:59 (thirteen years ago) link

CaptainLorax, Sunday, 27 January 2008 22:05 (thirteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Terrence Simien used to put on some great zydeco shows back in the 80s and he would occasionally add some blues and reggae and roots rock into the mix. By the '90s he increased the amount of non-zydeco and began to attract a jam band following. I lost interest in him. Recently I read that he and his wife's multi-year effort to get a Cajun and Zydeco category added to the Grammies paid off. And sure enough, the Grammy folks just gave him the award this year! While his efforts schooling the Grammys folks on the need for such an award is to be commended, it's a bit more questionable saying his latest cd was more worthy than that of the other artists nominated (and some of the great artists not even nominated). Yes I will admit that I have not heard his latest. And maybe expecting a smart decision from the Grammy folks (who once gave Jethro Tull the best heavy metal band award)is naive.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 01:17 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

I'm way into zydeco right now. I admit, the 'hipster proof'ness of the genre is what drew me to it initially, but man, there is some rockin' shit to be discovered here. This was sorta my last stone unturned, genre wise, and I'm pretty excited about it right now. Anyone got any recommendations besides those listed above?

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 06:31 (thirteen years ago) link

do u guys prefer polkas or waltzes

Curt1s Stephens, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 06:56 (thirteen years ago) link

Waltzes are Cajun (and sometimes Creole), polkas are not. I prefer faster-tempoed zydeco to both, but if I had to choose I'd take waltzes.

I like all the zydeco acts that regularly come through the DC area--Curley Taylor, Andre Thiery, Geno Delafose...Plus, if you want to just listen to cds of old classic stuff you can also check out that Kingdom of Zydeco book. There's another book on Texas zydeco that I've been meaning to get.

I wish the more hiphop-inflected zydeco acts from Texas (Houston area mostly) would come my way-Step Rideaux and others. I'm spacing out on some of the names right now. Will list more of 'em later.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 11:28 (thirteen years ago) link

Actually Novamax listed 'em above. On the Cajun side of things, I've always liked Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys who add zydeco, melodic swamp pop, and minor-key balladry to their Cajun sound. They're touring the US in May (or at least coming to DC).

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 12:40 (thirteen years ago) link

Another great Houston act: Lady D and the Zydeco Tornadoes. Her albums just make me smile.

novamax, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 16:28 (thirteen years ago) link

A portion of the article--

Friends of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., leader of Buckwheat Zydeco, have established a GoFundMe account to raise money for the Emmy- and Grammy-winning musician. Dural, who has been seriously ill with lung cancer, is dealing with high medical bills and other expenses.
Dural’s illness has caused him to miss numerous gigs in the past year.
According to spokesperson Dustin Cravins, Dural’s struggles increased last weekend when his Carencro home took on some water during the historic flood that struck south Louisiana. Bernite Dural, his wife of 40 years, suffered a fall during the cleanup.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 21 August 2016 18:42 (five years ago) link

Lost Bayou Ramblers instagram says they are releasing an old show of theirs on bandcamp as a Louisiana flooding fundraiser. They are also doing multiple benefit events down there Friday night Aug. 26th

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 23 August 2016 17:16 (five years ago) link

Yvette Landry often sounds more country than Cajun, though she has played with Cajun bands

curmudgeon, Thursday, 25 August 2016 16:12 (five years ago) link

four weeks pass...

accordionist, bandleader, keyboard player too...

RIP, dead at 68 from lung cancer

curmudgeon, Saturday, 24 September 2016 13:07 (five years ago) link

three weeks pass...

*Sat. Oct. 22-Cajun and Zydeco Music Festival at Glen Echo w/ Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco TrendSetters; Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys; T'Monde; Squeeze Bayou Cajun Band; and Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble 2pm to 12mdt.

I want to see Ballou (who's also playing tonight) but am gonna have to miss both gigs

curmudgeon, Friday, 21 October 2016 17:39 (four years ago) link

two months pass...

From Big Daddy Nice's southern soul r'n'b blog/website

Finally, Zydeco continued to influence and infiltrate southern soul, with none other than traditionalist Ecko Records' John Ward picking up tricks from newbies like Baton Rouge producer Beat Flippa (last year's winner) and giving strong proof for producer of the year. Ward incorporated the cajun-style button accordion into percolating fast jams by Jaye Hammer, ("Trail Ride") and O.B. Buchana ("Why Can't I Be Your Lover"). And on the other side, zydeco's Chris Ardoin (following in Keith Frank's footsteps) moved ever closer to a zydeco-southern soul hybrid with the rhapsodic "Boo Thang."

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 3 January 2017 19:04 (four years ago) link

Southern soul singer Ms. Jody on Ecko has a zydeco mentioning and influenced song too

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 3 January 2017 19:06 (four years ago) link

two months pass...®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront

Travel article piece with a kinda generic zydeco overview plus a focus on The Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, and Buck & Johnny’s in Breaux Bridge. Some good info

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 March 2017 17:48 (four years ago) link

Southern soul act Mr. Sam does "Zydeco Sum Mo"

curmudgeon, Friday, 31 March 2017 02:56 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

In her book, “Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People,” author Ann Savoy wrote “Belton Richard is the most widely imitated singer and musician in southwest Louisiana today. Not only has his vocal style set the new standard for Cajun singers, but his songs are played at every dance. Belton Richard’s poetry looks at life with a tough romanticism that appeals to the earthy Cajuns.”

curmudgeon, Thursday, 6 July 2017 14:12 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

The 85-year old Cajun Hank Williams, D.L. Menard has passed. He was enjoyable when I saw him live.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 29 July 2017 20:36 (four years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Houston-born zydeco musician Cory Ledet and band are ok according to twitter (re the flood), but stuck in a Houston subdivision

curmudgeon, Monday, 28 August 2017 19:22 (four years ago) link

John Nova Lomax article from January 2017

Houston experiences the same sweltering and sticky climate that afflicts New Orleans and Lafayette. Our Bayou City braces for the same natural disasters—hurricanes and floods—as the Bayou State (Houstonians barely know the tornados that afflict northern and western Texas or the ice storms that paralyze Dallas). Like South Louisiana, the Houston area has seen large-scale sugar and rice production. The I-10 corridor is lined with oil refineries from east Houston all the way to Lake Charles. You can still hear Cajun and Creole music regularly on the radio on noncommercial stations like KPFT and Majic 102, a commercial R&B station.

I could go on, but here is the kicker to my bold declaration. I invite you to drive past the Spanish moss-draped live oaks and swampy prairie landscapes west of Houston on Interstate 10. I promise, it won’t feel as though you’ve entered “real Texas” until you hit the Peach Ridge Road exit out by Brookshire, where the ground finally starts to get a little roll to it. That, and not the Sabine River, is where you are finally truly leaving Louisiana.

According to the “best guesstimate” of Jim Gossen, chairman of Houston-based Sysco Louisiana Seafood, Houstonians now annually consume more crawfish than the entire state of Louisiana.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 29 August 2017 17:20 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

Marcus Ardoin & the Zydeco Legendz

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 10 October 2017 23:59 (three years ago) link

three months pass...

Lost Bayou Ramblers , Cajun band, won the best regional traditional music Grammy for their Kalenda album beating out Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers and Northern Cree (a Canadian native/aboriginal North American group) .

Meanwhile Houston has a big zydeco fest April 7th 2018







curmudgeon, Monday, 29 January 2018 19:52 (three years ago) link

three months pass...

A new project by Jean Bertrand (of the Pine Leaf Boys)

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 02:21 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Anthony Bourdain episode last night recorded at Mardi Gras time in southwestern Louisiana was worth watching. Marc & Anne Savoy & family, Lost Bayou Ramblers, zydeco writer Herman Fuselier, Sid Williams, drunk guys in costumes, talented women costume makers, good food, and Bourdain talking with them all.

curmudgeon, Monday, 18 June 2018 13:46 (three years ago) link

i stumbled on the louisiana cajun-zydeco festival in armstrong park in new orleans this past week and caught the first 2 sets (and the final set) on the second day. there were indeed a lot of old people there but 1) they did not appear to be tourists 2) they were dancing with more enthusiasm and genuine mirth than i have seen in years 3) they were for the most part good dancers. there was one (not OLD old but not young) couple in particular whose chemistry was mesmerizing -- they were beautiful to watch.

also i saw a guy there wearing a RLYR tshirt (Chicago band featuring former members of Pelican & idk what other bands, def not a well known band)

<3 <3 <3 zydeco music & people

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:12 (three years ago) link

was kind of bummed to miss the cajun portion of the lineup but i enjoyed it regardless

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:13 (three years ago) link

In the Washington DC area zydeco caught on with a sizable group of white roots music fans who became fanatics of the style and pretty good at dancing to the genre couples style. Alas, no subsequent generation similarly caught on. In zydeco's southwest Louisiana home, Afro-creole parents teach their kids how to dance to it, and I think it is also taught now in schools (or at least I have seen video of white Cajun kids learning Cajun dance in class like settings).

Wow, that was a great lineup!


Saturday, June 23:
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bruce Daigrepont
12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Sean Ardoin
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Les Freres Michot
4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots
5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Lost Bayou Ramblers

Sunday, June 24:
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Li'l Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers
12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Chris Ardoin & NuStep
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band
4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas
5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers

curmudgeon, Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:13 (three years ago) link

Oops, I meant to say that zydeco caught on in DC in the 1980s

curmudgeon, Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:14 (three years ago) link

Watching stylish and adept dancing couples at zydeco (and Latino styles and old-school r'n'b) captivates me and makes me jealous. Despite a handful of lessons, I would need to take many more and practice multiple nights a week I think to get that good.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:18 (three years ago) link

I think it was Chris Ardoin & his band who covered Ginuwine's "Pony" -- that number yielded some *fire emoji* dancing
this was the first time i have experienced actual zydeco music played live in an appropriate context. super duper enjoyable and def not just for old people.

i was too hot and had no partner but i could follow and was dancing by myself in the shade :)

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 28 June 2018 16:19 (three years ago) link

three months pass...
I know f all about this genre but this track makes me smile

calstars, Sunday, 21 October 2018 03:51 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

So, there's no dedicated swamp pop thread on ILM, and barely a mention of my new favorite singer: Jimmy Donley. I stumbled into him because Bill Kirchen (one of my favorite guitarists and performers) covered a song on a Black Top Records Christmas compilation called "Santa! Don't Pass Me By." I loved it so much my band learned it for a Christmas party, and research on the original record let me to Donley.

Holy smokes what a voice, somewhere between Fats Domino, Freddy Fender, and Charlie Rich. And what a tragic life story: Married six times, prone to bouts of both heavy drinking and domestic violence, committed suicide at 33 by asphyxiating himself with his car's exhaust fumes.

Kirchen covers "Think it Over" as well, and I currently think it's the best song ever:

A breezy pop-rock feel fairly typical of the mid-'80s (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 12 December 2019 18:24 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Here’s another swamp pop group

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 December 2019 23:07 (one year ago) link

Aaron Foret Band

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 December 2019 23:08 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Watching Lil Nate (son of Nathan Williams ) livestream right now from Lafayette on his youtube channel Little Nathan's tv

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 March 2020 04:01 (one year ago) link

oh no sound just went out. Was gonna contribute to their cash app

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 March 2020 04:03 (one year ago) link

lil' Nathan's tv

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 March 2020 04:08 (one year ago) link

Saw Steve Riley do some Cajun shows on Facebook from his home . Also saw Jay and the Zydeco Backwood Boyz who mix zydeco w/ modern r’n’b

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 04:04 (one year ago) link

four months pass...

Great video on Afro-creole zydeco dancing in Houston

curmudgeon, Friday, 7 August 2020 23:31 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Been digging into the whole Louis Michot universe (mentioned upthread several places). The Lost Bayou Ramblers are a lot of fun. I also really like this, from earlier this year — Ethereal cod-reggae zydeco? The dub version is pretty cool too.

And this document from Michot's residency at The Stone is quite a thing. Hard to describe. 45 minutes of improv Cajun drone and tin whistles (courtesy of Spider Stacy) with song bits mixed in:

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Thursday, 19 November 2020 16:51 (ten months ago) link

Oops, meant to link directly to this one:

Although the second disc is good too.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Thursday, 19 November 2020 17:12 (ten months ago) link

Will check that out, thanks. Just saw this sad news about 4 Senior Cajun musicians dying of Covid, and other Creole and Cajun musicians struggling financially

curmudgeon, Saturday, 28 November 2020 19:54 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

Cajun & zydeco Sunday afternoon radio show hosts fave albums of 2020

Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours. "Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours." Self-released. (Grammy nominee)

Daiquiri Queens. "Daiquiri Queens." Self-released. Features New Orleans’ own John Dowden on accordion and fiddle.

Feufollet: Prends Courage: A 20 Year Retrospective (Feufollet Records)

Lost Bayou Ramblers: On Va Continuer! (DVD & CD) (Worklight Records)

Michot's Melody Makers. "Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn." Nouveau Electric Records NER 1012, 2020.

Sweet Cecilia. "A Tribute to Al Berard." Self-released. (Grammy nominee

curmudgeon, Thursday, 31 December 2020 04:53 (eight months ago) link

Part of the list from another WWOZ DJ:

Michot’s Melody Makers "Cosmic Cajuns from Saturn"
Soul Creole (45) a.) Trois Rangs (Three Rings) b.) Trois Rangs dub
L.E.S. Douze (2. Le String Noise) Recordings from Louis Michot’s residency at The Stone in NYC’s Lower East Side
Lost Bayou Ramblers "Asteur"
Goldman Thibodeaux & The Lawtell Playboys "La Danse A St. Anns"
Daiquiri Queens "Dauquiri Queens"
Keith Frank & The Soileau Zydeco Band "Live from Mamou Volume 1") digital release only
R. Scully "New Confusion"
Static Static "The Future As Dark"
Lakou Mizik "HaitiaNola"
79’rs Gang "Expect the Unexpected

curmudgeon, Thursday, 31 December 2020 05:07 (eight months ago) link

Good article by Joe Nick Patoski on South Texas Cajun and Creole culture

curmudgeon, Thursday, 31 December 2020 14:10 (eight months ago) link

How are Feufollet 20 years old? I remember seeing them as little kids. I still need to check out Sweet Cecelia.

Three Rings for the Elven Bishop (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 31 December 2020 16:35 (eight months ago) link

xzanfar, Thursday, 31 December 2020 20:05 (eight months ago) link

Lots of Houston zydeco acts are on Instagram

curmudgeon, Sunday, 3 January 2021 01:52 (eight months ago) link

I have to catch up on some of the above

curmudgeon, Thursday, 7 January 2021 16:28 (eight months ago) link

Plus some from this Offbeat magazine list. I am not always into some of the stuff they like ( bar band blues-rock and lame corporate rock) but there’s often a few good choices

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 05:41 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...

Great films about James Booker, Mardi Gras Indians, jazz parades, the Rebirth Brass Band ; plus rare showing of "Promised Land: A Swamp Pop Journey," a portrait of Lil' Band o' Gold on Tipitina's TV today Sat 2-13, Feb 14 & Mardi Gras

on their own page and their Youtube page

curmudgeon, Saturday, 13 February 2021 16:36 (seven months ago) link

Sat, Feb 13, 2021 Streaming Schedule (All times in Central Standard Time):
10am / Bury The Hatchet
11:27am / Donald Harrison
11:30am / Bayou Maharajah (James Booker)
1:08pm / Henry Butler (2001)
1:30pm / American Patchwork: Jazz Parades (“Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”)
2:28pm / Tipitina’s TV Exclusive
2:30pm / The Promised Land: A Swamp Pop Journey
3:47pm / Bruce Daigrepont (2004)
4pm / Never A Dull Moment: 20 Years of the Rebirth Brass Band
5:30pm / Dr. John (2004)
6pm / Bury The Hatchet
7:27pm / Donald Harrison
7:30pm / Bayou Maharajah (James Booker)
9:08pm / Henry Butler (2001)
9:30pm / American Patchwork: Jazz Parades (“Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”)
10:28pm / Tipitina’s TV Exclusive
10:30pm / The Promised Land: A Swamp Pop Journey
11:47pm / Bruce Daigrepont (2004)
12am / Never A Dull Moment: 20 Years of the Rebirth Brass Band
1:30am / Dr. John (2004)

curmudgeon, Saturday, 13 February 2021 16:52 (seven months ago) link

This swamp doc on Lil Band of Gold showing now is awesome.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 13 February 2021 20:56 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...

Cajun musician and author Ann Savoy's new book re history of Cajun music volume ii is out. I don't think I ever read volume 1, but have seen Savoy sing and read some of her writing and seen her in docs, so I am sure both volumes are worthy.

As it happened, the stay-at-home constraints of the pandemic kept Ann off the road last year and she was finally able to realize the vision herself.

Bluebird Press will publish Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II on February 17. Like its predecessor, the new book is lushly illustrated with historic and recent photographs, transcriptions of thirty-five English and Cajun French interviews and biographies and more than 100 songs with French translations and phonetics and musical notation.

The book is not only a reference resource but also is, itself, a repository of cultural artifacts that document an idiosyncratic music and way of life focusing on such artists as Boozoo Chavis, Happy Fats, Harry Choates, Nathan Abshire, Octa Clark, Chester “Pee Wee” Broussard, Wilfred Latour, and many others from the entire spectrum of Cajun and Zydeco music. As an adjunct to the books, the Arhoolie Foundation’s website will host the Ann Savoy Collection, an aggregation of audio assets, almost 200 interviews that are part of the books, as well as interviews with Cajun, Creole and zydeco artists that were conducted over the past 60 years by Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 20 March 2021 19:18 (six months ago) link

Ann Savoy and Louis Michot on Out To Lunch!

podcast.We had a fun time doing the show plus got a free lunch from French Press, one of my top favorite restaurants.

You can also hear the show any time and see photos from the show here: If this link takes you to our podcast platform, which it can if you’re on a mobile device, and you want to go to our website, the direct link is

curmudgeon, Saturday, 20 March 2021 19:23 (six months ago) link

Korey Broussard, young zydeco musician whose uncle had/has a band, is often doing Instagram lives

curmudgeon, Saturday, 20 March 2021 19:24 (six months ago) link

five months pass...

RIP The great Louisiana swamp pop, Cajun, & rock and roll singer drummer Warren Storm at 84. On ballads could sound a bit like Roy Orbison. I saw him in New Orleans when he played with Lil Band of Gold. Was healthy and gigging on occasion there until August when he got sick and was hospitalized.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 September 2021 15:15 (two weeks ago) link

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