Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! Newsletter No Images? Click here

Welcome to ISSUE #31 of FloridaCajunZydeco.com Update!
This newsletter showcases dance events from the FloridaCajunZydeco.com website as well as articles not on the website pages. This month the feature article is “A Blues-Infused Treat From Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys”.

EVERY FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAY in St. Petersburg you can find us dancing at EDGE OF 9 (our NEW venue in St. Pete) to some of the best Cajun and zydeco tunes DJ Jim has been able to uncover. Enjoy your own adventure in good music at each Zydeco Dance at Edge of 9 with new tunes and discovered gems from the past. More than 50% of the music is different every dance, and a lot of it has never been played at any previous dance.

NEW AND IMPROVED on FloridaCajunZydeco.com is the “Stories” page. It contains archives of THIS NEWSLETTER, and each issue has a photo representing the artist featured in the main article. Check out some of the archived newsletters at www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com/stories.

Also, we're on FACEBOOK in Groups (Florida Cajun Zydeco Dancers) and with our own Page (Florida Cajun Zydeco). Check us out and "Like" us to see the posts and reminders throughout the week. This is a good way to get your zydeco fix between newsletters.

FloridaCajunZydeco.com loves to travel and fits neatly in your pocket on your smart phone. Check the website for dance information wherever you may travel.

Regards, Jim Hance


New Zydeco Dance Venue

TUESDAY, SEPT.  1 DANCE:  Join us 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays at Edge of 9, our new dance venue. Edge of 9 address is 900 Central Avenue, though it is best to enter the parking lot to the venue from 1st Avenue South. The venue is on First Avenue South and you can identify it easily from the street by its red awning and sign. The dance music will be played softly until 7 p.m. when adjoining businesses will be closing. The first hour will be a social hour with a dance lesson, and you can bring food in from Subway (which closes at 7 p.m.) around the corner or Ricky P’s a couple blocks away. There is no cover charge, a parking lot accommodating 40 cars, a painted cement dance floor and a sound system rated “A+” by local media reviewers. Questions or requests? Jim Hance (j-hance@wowpromotions.com) or Sharon Stern (sternsl@hotmail.com). In honor of Sharon’s return we are playing zydeco music by Keith Frank, Chris Ardoin and Curley Taylor, and some tunes from Steve Riley’s new album, Voyageur.  

SEPT. 15 DANCE: By the way, the Rays will not have a home game on Sept. 1 but will have a 7:10 p.m. home game vs. the New York Yankees on Sept. 15. Plan your route on Sept. 15th to avoid traffic.  There will likely be some traffic on Dr. MLK heading to Tropicana Field. Our dancers have not been inconvenienced by the traffic and restricted parking on game days at our previous venue closer to the Trop in the past. We don’t anticipate any problems with parking at Edge of 9.


GeckoFest Features Cajun-Zydeco All Day

THIS SATURDAY, SEPT. 5,  Gulfport celebrates the end of summer with its largest festival of the year dedicated to the town’s unofficial mascot and favorite reptile. GeckoFest manager Suzanne King says that the DJs at two stages at opposite ends of the festival along Beach Blvd. in Gulfport will be playing Cajun and zydeco music 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the evening, Jim Hance will be teaching beginning Cajun and zydeco dance lessons 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the North Stage (28th Ave. South) before Yard Dog Charlie takes the stage (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Jim will also teach a 15-minute Cajun dance lesson at the South Stage (Shore Blvd. in front of the Gulfport Casino) at 8 p.m. before Gumbo Boogie takes the stage 8:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. Come on down and enjoy the festivities throughout the day and dance to live music in the evening (wear your street dancing shoes). There will be a costume contest and Mardi Gras parade for this year’s “Gecko Gras” theme, so don your gecko costume with lots of mardi gras beads if you are so inspired. See the downloadable schedule for GeckoFest at FloridaCajunZydeco.com/calendar.html.


Spotlight on:
Blues-Infused Treat from Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys

The rocking release of this summer for me is the Mamou Playboys’ Voyageurs. With a decidedly rock and blues sound fused with traditional Cajun instruments, Steve Riley and his band (now with Kevin Wimmer on fiddle and vocals) takes us on a new adventure to places we’ve never been.

A Wild Journey

As World Music News Wire describes it, Voyageurs bursts with the full growl and sparkle of the region’s music, honed over decades. With the new member, the band finds the funky, unexpected crossroads of rock, blues, country, zydeco, and just about every other branch of Americana out there. It’s quite a trip, from East Texas wedding travails (beloved Cajun singalong “Brasse Donc, Le Couche-Couche”), to the wild journey of Mardi Gras (Dewey Balfa’s galloping classic “Le danse de Mardi Gras”), to saying a playful good riddance to your hometown (“Au Revoir Grand Mamou”).

“You bring what you need with you and you keep pushing forward,” explains Riley, describing the band’s journey and the Cajun experience. “A lot of the songs on the record are about travels.There is all this imagery that’s really striking, all the things you had to go though to leave your home and take your music and your message around the world.”

Another Grammy?

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys began over twenty five years ago with a reputation for excellence. Their stunningly clean and cohesive performance of Cajun French music from the backwaters of Southwest Louisiana propelled them into the world music limelight early on, and their third release, Trace of Time, garnered them a Grammy nomination. They received another Grammy nomination in 2004 for Bon Reve, in 2009 for Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and again in 2011 for Grand Isle. I sense another Grammy nomination in 2015 for Voyageurs.

Leaving Grand Mamou

Voyageurs treads a fine line between gleeful nostalgia and thoughtful innovation, playing with favorites by Cajun masters like Dennis McGee and Canray Fontenot. The band powers through a traditional, none-too-subtle jingle meant to spread the word about where to get liquor (“Allons Boire un Coup”), though they turned the double-fiddle tune into a syncopated wink at second line. Riley turns convention on its head with the opening track, “Au Revoir Grand Mamou.” “There are a bunch of songs about coming back to Mamou,” smiles Riley, “and I thought it was time to try something different.”

The Mamou Playboys’ strong connections to other Louisiana traditions emerge naturally from the band’s deep approach to the material. “Boozoo’s Blues” by the zydeco icon Boozoo Chavis fits seamlessly into the Playboys’ sound revealing the close relationship between the francophone Cajun and Creole cultures in Louisiana that has existed for hundreds of years. It’s a gulf Riley and band have bridged before by exploring Creole repertoire, and the band continues this approach with pieces like “Madame Faillelle,” a beauty for accordion and fiddle that Riley and Wimmer take to unexpected places, and “Bernadette,” with the colorful layering of Sam Broussard’s guitar. “Sam’s playing is such an integral part of so many of the album’s songs both rhythmically and texturally,” asserts Riley.

Riley’s New Instrument Hits New Notes

Travelers can’t be set in their ways, and Riley never rested on his roots. A disciple of Dewey Balfa (as is Wimmer), Riley discovered, as he and Playboys began to work on several tunes Wimmer brought to the table, that his diatonic accordion could not do what they wanted it to do. So they commissioned a new instrument from a maker in France giving the diatonic Cajun accordion the sharps and flats it didn’t have previously.

The challenges of Wimmer’s tunes like “Malcolm’s Reel” and “Bottle it Up” lie deeper, and push the technical issues of Riley’s instrument. “‘Malcolm’s Reel’ and ‘Bottle it Up’ are both played in a unique positions rarely used on the Cajun accordion. Very few songs are played in that position, and none are as complicated as this,” reflects Riley. “It’s a real finger twister. After we play this song, I feel like I’ve been pushed to the limits. But it’s a lot of fun!”

A New Voice

Kevin Wimmer’s vocals and fiddle give the Mamou Playboys a new voice we haven’t heard before. His vocals on “Bernadette”, “Madame Faillelle” and “Boozoo’s Blues” have a bit of the Johnny Winter growl, the proper voice for a blues song. Wimmer has been playing fiddle since the tender age of three.  He performed frequently with Dewey Balfa and learned the essence of the tradition directly from him.  Over the years he has performed most notably all over the globe with Preston Frank and the blues and swing inspired Red Stick Ramblers.

Sam Broussard generates a cyclone of guitar. On acoustic, electric and electric slide he carries the music of his ancestry farther than it’s ever gone, and garners the lion’s share of spontaneous applause for his soloing skills. Add to that his songwriting, arranging and tenor singing and the result is a feast of creativity that can motivate a packed dance hall or a concert audience.

Kevin Dugas on drums and Brazos Huval on bass are a Cadillac V-8 of a rhythm section. Known throughout South Louisiana for their “hydromatic” groove, they are the Wyman and Watts, the Muscle Shoals, the Double Trouble of the bayous, and they draw crowds in their own right wherever they perform.

So take a little trip with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and enjoy some new song territory you haven’t heard before on Voyageurs.


Zydeco Cha Chas in Miami Beach

On Thursday, October 8, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas play at Dance Band Night, North Beach Band Shell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL (305) 672-5202.  7:00 – 8:00 PM Dance lesson from Jarene 8:00 p.m. Open dancing to Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Tab Benoit at Skippers (Tampa)

October 17 and 18, Louisiana Cajun blues artist Tab Benoit is at Skippers both Saturday and Sunday. Skippers Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Rd., Tampa 33613. More info at skipperssmokehouse.com. They have a ticket special price if you buy tickets for both Saturday and Sunday. The show should be different each night. That’s the way Tab rolls.


Friday, October 30th JB's Zydeco Zoo plays the Halloween Party at Bradfordville Blues Club, 7152 Moses Lane, Tallahassee, FL, 32309. Phone 850-906-0766. Website. Dress up as your favorite zydeco zoo animal.


Buckwheat Zydeco at Skippers (Tampa)

Saturday, October 31 at 8 p.m., opening band will be Gumbo Boogie. Buckwheat Zydeco takes the stage a bit later at Skippers Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa 33613, Phone 813-971-0666. Info at www.skipperssmokehouse.com


Nathan Williams Sr., Master Folk Artist

Information derived from an Advertiser article by Herman Fuselier

Nathan Williams Sr. has been inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center “Hall of Master Folk Artists”. Located at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, the center serves as a research facility and archival repository for folklife materials. Since 1981, the Center's Hall of Master Folk Artists has recognized state artisans in music, arts, crafts and more. Previous local inductees include D. L. Menard, Hadley Castille, Michael Doucet, Dewey Balfa and many others.

As leader of Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas for the past 30 years, he has traveled the United States and Canada establishing a reputation as an ambassador of Louisiana culture. Williams has a passion for making music. ”I’m so amazed by every show that I do that I'm happy that I do it," said Williams. "I feel good about it. God gives me a chance to be the best at what I do. I just thank God for that."

Williams has created a lengthy resume in his three decades in music. In his travels, he's shared stages with Janet Jackson. B. B. King, Allison Krauss, Travis Tritt, James Brown, Trombone Shorty and other stars. Williams has played in Carnegie Hall, World Trade Center, Lincoln Center, Hollywood Bowl and Sears Tower. His music was featured in "In the Electric Mist," a 2009 movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and John Goodman.

Despite his notoriety, Williams welcomes the opportunity to play more at home. Except for the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, his gigs have mainly been on the road. "I'd like to play at home more, but I just thank God for what he gave me," said Williams. "He knows that I try to be the best that I can be in my life.”

"I'm not rich, but I'm rich in spirit. I never try to think I'm more than anybody else. I never try to hurt people's feelings, talk bad to anybody. I've never been like that all my life. That's want counts."


Kevin Naquin Big Winner at Awards Show
with “No Guarantee”

Information derived from an Advertiser article by Herman Fuselier

Kevin Naquin and his band The Ossun Playboys swept the Le Cajun Plaque and Music Awards Show this year in Rayne, LA.

His song and album titled "No Guarantee" won Song of the Year, Traditional CD of the Year, Best CD of the Year and People’s Choice Award. Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys also was named Band of the Year, Naquin was named Accordionist of the Year, and Beau Thomas of the Ossun Playboys was named Fiddler of the Year. Kevin dedicated the song award to his father at the awards show.

The title song started out with a message written on a napkin by his father, Jessie Naquin, after Jessie was told he has cancer. Life has no guarantees, he told his son. He told him he could write a song or “wipe his butt” with the napkin. Kevin took the first choice, wrote a song, and had it translated into French by cultural advocate Barry Ancelet.  

Of his father, Kevin Naquin said at the awards show where his father was present, “He’s a walking miracle. He’s a fighter. I’m so proud to have him with me.”


Dance to Florida Bands


Orlando’s Cajun band Porchdogs is playing at Johnny Longboat’s Restaurant in Riviera Beach Sept. 5 and Sept. 6, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Gumbo Boogie is playing at several venues in the Tampa Bay area throughout the month of September. Venues include GeckoFest in Gulfport on Sept. 5, Clancy’s on Sept. 11, JR’s Packinghouse Cafe on Sept. 12, Ace’s Live on Sept. 20, Clancy’s on Sept. 26, and BBQ Festival at Klauber Polo Ranch on Oct. 3.

Find more information on each of these bands and their engagements at floridacajunzydeco.com/calendar.html.



Here are your last opportunities to attend a Cajun-Zydeco festival this year.

Rhythm & Roots Festival (Sept. 4-6 in Charlestown, Rhode Island). Bands include Dog Hill Stompers, Ruben Moreno, Corey Ledet, Roddie Romero, Steve Riley, Jesse Lege,  Keb Mo, Royal Southern Brotherhood, The Mavericks, Marcia Ball, Los Lobos.

Festivals Acadiens et Creoles (Oct. 9-11 in Lafayette, LA). Bands include Geno Delafose, Jeffery Broussard, Kevin Naquin, Terry and the Zydeco Bad boys, Travis Matte, Wayne Toups ZydeCajun, Sheryl Cormier, Ruben Moreno, Magnolia Sisters, Pine Leaf Boys, Corey Ledet, Feufollet, Chubby Carrier, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, and Keith Frank.

Magnolia Fest (Oct. 15-18 in Live Oak, FL).  Bands include Donna The Buffalo, New Orleans Suspects, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Avett Brothers, Del McCoury Band, Habenero Honeys.

Creole United Festival (Oct. 17 in Sausalito, CA) Bands have not been announced yet, but likely bands will include Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic, Ruben Romero and Zydeco Re-Evolution, and Sean Ardoin and Zydekool.

South Louisiana Blackpot Festival and Cookoff (Oct. 30-31 in Lafayette, LA). Bands have not been announced yet.

Check http://floridacajunzydeco.com/festivals.html for festival websites and other information. FloridaCajunZydeco.com will begin listing 2016 festival dates in coming weeks, though specific lineups at most events have yet to be determined.


Still Free…

and worth every penny! I hope you have enjoyed this issue of FloridaCajunZydeco Update!

Please forward to friends who are interested in Cajun and zydeco music and dancing…or just reading about it!


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Regards, Jim Hance