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Smart Phone Version Now Online

What you'll see on your smart phone

Use Florida Cajun Zydeco as your own up-to-date source  for Cajun and zydeco dance events throughout Florida. The site includes comprehensive information on the major festivals throughout the United States in the exclusive "Festival-O-Rama" section on the home page.

If you look at the site on a smart phone, you're in for a treat. Most of the desktop version has been incorporated into a new mobile format which will appear on your phone making navigating the information really easy. The website banner is pinned to the top of the phone display, and functions as a button for a drop-down navigation; just touch the banner and the menu drops down. The content of each page scrolls under the banner, and there are self-running "slideshows" you can swipe with your finger to view at your own pace. The buttons and links are well spaced so you can easily touch to go to another page or linked site. The content has been restructured to give Festival-O-Rama and Update Newsletters their own pages. A Links page (abridged from the desktop version) also includes the "Zydeco on the Radio". Some features such as Florida Bands and Florida Dance Venues is not present on the mobile site. And there is less emphasis on geography --- everything is listed together on the Dance Calendar page and as announcements on the home page regardless of what "region" it is. Some of these changes will inform  the layout of the desktop version in the future. So check out www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com on your smart phone, and let me know how it works for you.

Jim Hance


Johnny Sansone in the Florida Panhandle Aug. 8-9

Johnny Sansone

Dance to New Orleans bluesman Johnny Sansone in Pensacola, Friday August 8, and in Tallahassee on Saturday, August 9. Sansone is an outstanding harmonica artist, and brings out the Louisiana feel in his music on the accordion as well. Sansone is playing at the Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar on Friday, and the famous Bradfordville Blues Club on Saturday. Check www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for additional information.

Gumbo Boogie in Bradenton Aug. 22

Gumbo Boogie

Catch Gumbo Boogie on Friday, August 22. Let's get a group of dancers together for this Friday dance. Gumbo Boogie is the Tampa Bay "local band", and what's better than live Cajun music to finish off the work week?  Kirby Stewart Post 24 American Legion Hall, 2000 75th Street West, Bradenton, FL.

Cajun-Zydeco Dance at Club MIXX in Clearwater Saturday, August 23rd


Jerry Carrier and Jim Hance are pleased to announce a new dance at Club MIXX. With your support, it will become a monthly event.

Jerry set up the event from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with the restaurant owners who believe it will be supported by their customers as well as our dance community. Jerry will teach a beginning zydeco dance lesson at 7 p.m. and Jim will deejay all evening from a diverse mix danceable tunes until 10 p.m. Some of the music he intends to play was recorded live at dances, night clubs and festivals. It will all keep you moving on the dance floor --- or we move on to the next tune!  Club MIXX, 528 Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater 33755. This is our very first dance at Club MIXX, so please check www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com before coming out in case there are any unforeseen changes in the schedule. Please support the restaurant and bar so they invite us back next month.

Zydeco Dance at Vertigo on Tuesday, August 26


Sharon Stern is hosting another zydeco dance at Vertigo, upstairs from Yard of Ale on Ulmerton at Carillon Parkway. There is a link to online food discounts at www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com. Please support the restaurant and bar so we can continue to meet here for zydeco dancing in the future!  The dance is 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., so plan on getting there early. Vertigo, 2675 Ulmerton, Clearwater, FL 33762.



August 29-31 
17th Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival in Rhode Island

This is a camping event, but many people buy the day passes and drive in. Bands inched The Duhks, Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys, Bill Kirchin, Donna The Buffalo, CJ Chenier and The Red Hot Louisiana Band, Courtbouillon, Pine Leaf Boys, Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience, Jeffery Broussard the The Creole Cowboys, Ed Poullard and Preston Frank, and Florida blue favorites Southern Hospitality. Check out www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for more information.

September 6, 2014 
19th Sebastopol Wine Country Cajun Zydeco Festival in California

Bands include Jeffery Broussard, Rusty Metoyer, Sean Ardoin & Zydekool, Lawrence Ardoin and Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Ives Park. Check out www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for more information.

October 10-12, 2014 
Festivals Acadiens et Creoles in Lafayette, LA

Celebrate the rhythm of Cajun and Creole life at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles Dance to a traditional waltz. Two-step to the upbeat rhythms of accordions, fiddles and ti fers (triangles). Step back in time as traditional crafters demonstrate their artistry. Festivals Acadiens et Créoles pays tribute to the Cajun and Creole cultures with a combination of FREE festivals. Held the second weekend in October! Check back on www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for band lineup as it is made available.

October 17-29, 2014 
Magnolia Fest at Spirit of the Suannee Music Park in Live Oak

This is a camping event, but day passes are available. Bands include Donna The Buffalo, The Duhks, Honey Island Swamp Band, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples, Drive-By Truckers, Col. Bruce Hampton, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Habanero Honeys. Single day tickets $50-$70, 4-day festival with camping $140-$190. Check out www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for more information.

Spotlight on D.L. Menard

D.L. Menard by Rick Olivier

Photo: Rick Olivier

Doris Leon "D. L." Menard (born April 14, 1932) is one of the most important songwriters and performers in Cajun music. He has been called the "Cajun Hank Williams" because of the country-tinged sound of his voice and music.

Oct. 19, 1993 is the day D.L. Menard finally got to be a full-time musician. Actually, "had to be" is more accurate. Menard lost his day job as proprietor of a one-man chair factory in Erath, La., when one of his self-built woodcutting machines short-circuited, sending sparks into sawdust and burning the place down.

Menard's fallback position was not exactly desperate: He had begun playing Cajun music in 1949, had his first regional hit in southern Louisiana in 1962 and began touring outside his home state in 1973. During the '80s and '90s, Menard rode a surge of interest in traditional Cajun folk music and culture to a prominent spot on the list of rural-Louisiana exports that a global following has learned to savor.

But Cajun music isn't such a big attraction that a stepped-up performing schedule since the fire could make up for the chunk of income he lost. He has maintained a separate career as a craftsman, noted for his handmade ash-wood chairs he makes at his one-man factory in Erath. "[Making music] was about half my living," Menard said. Besides, he liked turning ash wood from the Louisiana swamps and forests into rockers and kitchen chairs. He says he found it as satisfying as being a singer-songwriter and guitar player. "You have fun [playing music], but I love working with wood. My chairs [are] very special. It's well-sanded, it's my own creation. I'm the one that's doing it, and I take pride in my work." Besides, Menard said, the day job complemented his musical life, because he often came up with new melodies for songs by humming to himself while he worked on a chair.

Menard's earliest inspiration was furnished by his father, who played harmonica, and an uncle who played in a Cajun band. Attending a rehearsal by the group, Menard became enchanted by his uncle's guitar playing. Convincing his uncle to teach him a few rudimentary chords, Menard took to the instrument quickly. Six months after buying his first guitar from a Sears and Roebuck catalog, he started playing dances in Louisiana clubs at 17.  Shortly after joining Elias Badeaux's band, the Louisiana Aces, in 1952, Menard took over the band's leadership.

Menard's special gift as a singer is a directness, simplicity and intensity of feeling that sometimes has gotten him billed as "the Cajun Hank Williams." If fact, Menard chatted with Williams for about 10 minutes during a break at a dance hall performance Williams gave in Cajun country in 1951. Menard's recollections of that influential talk stretch out considerably longer than the actual conversation must have. What he took from it, he says, was Williams' advice about respecting the audience, and about how important it is for a singer to be able to bring a song's story to life. Menard said he told Williams that he didn't expect to go far with his own music because it was in Cajun-French --- a minority language and culture that Louisiana authorities were then trying to discourage. "All music is good if it's your music" was Williams' response, Menard said. "It's not too often that I go out and play that something I see or something that happens doesn't make me think of what he told me that night," Menard said.

Menard is known for his "tinny" voice and popular guitar strumming style. Anne Savoy generalizes Cajun guitar strumming to two styles: Old Time Style (Cléoma Falcon) and D. L. Menard Style. It uses bass runs on chord changes and incorporates up strokes along with down strokes. He modeled his guitar strumming style after David Bromberg whom he met in 1973.  Menard has inspired other Cajun bands to sing the Cajun standards in his style and in the "Cajun French" language, notably The San Diego Cajun Playboys.

Menard is best known for his song "La Porte En Arrière" ("The Back Door"), which Cajun folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet has called the most played and most recorded Cajun song, selling over 500,000 copies in 1962 alone. It has been covered by dozens of Cajun and zydeco bands and by other Francophone artists such as Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Menard has said he modeled it on Hank Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues." He composed it in under an hour, while working at a service station in Erath.

He has performed in more than 30 countries and served as a good-will ambassador for Cajun culture. He has also recorded with non-Cajun artists, including Bryan Ferry.

In 1993, his album Le Trio Cadien was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. In 1994, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame along with Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, and Jimmy C. Newman. In 2010, his album "Happy Go Lucky" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album category.

DL Menard Albums:

En Bas du Chene Vert (Under a Green Oak Tree) with Dewey Balfa and Marc Savoy  (1976)*
The Back Door and Other Cajun Classics (1980)*
Cajun Saturday Night (1985)*
D.L. Menard and the Louisiana Aces (1988)
No Matter Where You At, There You Are (1988)*
Swallow Recordings (1991)
Le Trio Cadien (1992)
Cajun Memories (1995)*
Happy Go Lucky (2010)*

*D.L. Menard Albums available on iTunes.

"Carving Out a Career" by Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
Allmusic.com Artist Biography by Craig Harris