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Welcome to another edition of Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

I have posted a brand new Facebook page this past week. Get news feeds on Florida Cajun and Zydeco events on your Facebook page when you “Like” Florida Cajun Zydeco. For Facebook users, this will be a good companion for the FloridaCajunZydeco.com website for postings of past events and reminders of upcoming events. New posts several times a week. Check it out at

We just had an amazing month of Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the state of Florida. If you got some good photos to share of recent band performances, send them to me or just post them to the new Facebook page!

Tampa Bay dancers, there will be zydeco dances at Enigma in St. Petersburg on the first and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. We’ve had a real good showing at our first two dances. I really hope to see you there too.

My first few items in this issue are February events. Be sure to check each one so you don't miss out!

The Spotlight feature story this month is on Thomas “Big Hat” Fields. Fields is an outstanding example of the old school style of zydeco.

FloridaCajunZydeco Update! loves to be shared! This newsletter is a generous sort, and is quite pleased when it is shared among friends. Feel free to forward Update! to a friend…or someone you would like as a friend. Enjoy!

Jim Hance
Saint Petersburg, FL


Feb. 27 — Porchdogs at Pioneer Park Days (Zolfo Springs)

Pioneer Park Days

2 p.m. and 7 p.m.Pioneer Park Days is one of the largest and oldest antique tractor, steam engine and farm equipment shows in the southeast. Some of the highlights include over 400 exhibits of tractors, hit and miss steam engines and farm equipment. The Porchdogs perform at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (many other musical acts, lots of variety, scheduled over the weekend.) Admission: $2.00 per day or week pass $5.00. Old fashioned parade at 10 a.m. Downtown Wauchula. 412 W. Orange St., Room A-102, Wauchula, FL 33873.

FloridaCajunZydeco.com travels with you in your hip pocket. Check out dance events on your smart phone wherever you travel.

Feb. 27 — Dance to Easy Dooz (Sarasota)

Easy Dooz plays in Sarasota on Friday

8 p.m. at Fogartyville Community Media & Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct, Sarasota, FL 34236

Lisa Brande write, “After a great EasyDooz gig last night for Heather and Bobby Rabinowitz's C/Z dance group at the Villages, that had everyone up dancing all night,  EasyDooz is ready to bring the  Louisiana dance groove to Sarasota on Friday Feb 27 at Fogartyville,(525 Kumquat Ct, Sarasota), a nice dance venue with bar and food at 8pm. From Arnaudville La, Don Carpenter and Karen Sellers on Accordian and Drums, with Lisa Brande and Mark Trichka on fiddle and electric guitar, and Mary Morella on rubboard. The EasyDooz will be mixing it up with Zydeco, Swamp pop and Gulf Coast R&B."

Lisa adds, “Be assured, we will be playing all great music to DANCE to, and mostly Zydeco and Swampy stuff. There is an expanded dance floor there now, and house sound and lights and a nice stage. Food truck will be there and beer/wine/soft drinks available. Its a really nice space in downtown Sarasota right next to WSLR, for those who have yet to see it!”

Tickets available in advance for $10 at WSLR. $12 at the door. Venue is Fogartyville Community Media & Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct, Sarasota, FL 34236. (941) 587-6588. Check www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com for more information on this event.

Don’t forget: FloridaCajunZydeco.com loves to travel, and you can get dance information on the specially formatted mobile version of www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com wherever you are.

Feb. 28 — Porchdogs at Saturday Market (St. Pete)

Porchdogs at Saturday Morning Market

10 .m.  to 2 p.m.Porchdogs perform at downtown St. Pete waterfront open air market, 230 1st Street SE (at 1st Ave. S. & 1st Street.) Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Feb. 28 — Rockabilly Ruckus at Skippers (Tampa)

Rockabilly Ruckus at Skippers

7 p.m. to midnight  — Headliner Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys is joined by Rockett 88, Slip and the Spin-outs, Intoxicators, Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots and the Sara Rose Band at Skippers Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa 33613. Tickets $20/$25. More info at FloridaCajunZydeco.com

March 3 & 17 — Zydeco Dance at Club Enigma (St. Pete)

Club Enigma

5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Enigma, 1110 Central Avenue, St. Pete 33705. Dance 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Happy Hour pricing on some drinks throughout the dance, and no cover charge. Hungry? You're welcome to bring food in from Ricky P's across the street, or Bodega's or Red Mesa Mercado (they have the menus at Enigma). Park in the "free" orange lots in map above (the map is on the Calendar pages at www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com as well). Two hour restrictions on diagonal parking on Central apply.  Questions and music requests: Jim Hance, j-hance@wowpromotions.com.

Note: I have some new music to play from Thomas Big Hat Fields, Major Handy, Marc & The Boild Crawfish, Rockin' Dopsie Jr., Cory McCauley, Balfa Toujours, Step Rideau, Dora & The Entourage, and JJ Caillier & the Zydeco Knockouts. 

March 7 — Cajun Festival (Rockledge)

Cajun Festival in Rockledge

10 a.m. to 5 p.m — 3rd Annual Cajun Festival at Clayton’s Seafood Market (5775 S. Hwy. US 1, Rockledge) featuring Coco Locos playing a wide variety of music including zydeco music, a classic car show, a Mardi Gras stilt walker, a face painter, and a balloon guy, Brevard Zoo will be bringing out some small animals. Lowe’s will be doing a kid's workshop. Other businesses represented at the event wil include Long Doggers, River Rocks, Blue Bayou, and Brooklyn Pizza. Clayton's Seafood Market will be having an awesome Cajun menu. We also have some of the county's best arts and craft vendors. There will be a raffle drawing for all kinds of cool gift certificates and gifts from local businesses around county with the proceeds going to the Brevard Zoo Education program.  This is a free event, and parking is free.

March 15 — Gumbo Boogie at Ace’s (Bradenton)

Gumbo Boogie

5 to 9 p.m — Gumbo Boogie at Ace’s Live, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton. Italian buffet served at 6 p.m. http://aceslivemusic.com/

March 21 — CrawDebauchery Festival (Pompano Beach)


The Second Annual CrawDebauchery Food and Music Festival is scheduled for March 21, 2015 from 11 am until 10pm at the Pompano Beach Ampitheater.

Headlining the event is Grammy-winner Chubby Carrier, with Jumping’ Johnny Samson, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, The Lee Boys, The Soul Rebels and Maggie Koerner.

Crawdebauchery organizer, Don Matthews, remembers his motivation to bring a slice of New Orleans to the Fort Lauderdale area. "The old crawfish festivals are remembered with great fondness," says Matthews. "That was the motivation to host CrawDebauchery 2014. It's heartening to hear how happy people are when they learn what they treasured about past festivals- the New Orleans/Zydeco vibe, crawfish, music and food- will return with CrawDebauchery II in 2015 . We had over two thousand people show up at our first festival and are hoping to at least double that number this year."

Food is a focus at Crawdebauchery. The event had a dedicated food area called The Crescent City Bistreaux, presented by Shuck-n-Dive. Restaurants will feature the best in New Orleans fare from a massive crawfish boil, to classic New Orleans dishes like po'boys, beignets, redfish, gumbo, etouffee, pralines, and jambalaya.  "The things that New Orleans represents-the love of food, music and good times- is something I have a passion for, and all the positive feedback from CrawDebauchery 2014 has me convinced all the long days of planning were well worth the effort," says Matthews. "We hope CrawDebauchery will continue to prosper and expand and we'll be able to present the unique experience of New Orleans to patrons for a long time."

Don't forget --- FloridaCajunZydeco.com loves to accompany you to festivals, and doesn't even need an admission ticket. Just bookmark FloridaCajunZydeco.com on your smartphone.

Spotlight on: Thomas “Big Hat” Thomas

Spotlight on Thomas Fields

Photo above is by David Simpson. See the note by David in "The Photographer" story that follows.

If you are a fan of that “traditional” driving zydeco beat of Beau Jacque or Roy Carrier, you will love the music of Thomas “Big Hat” Fields. Fields is retired from performing now, but his contributions to zydeco are well worth exploring.

The story of Thomas "Big Hat" Fields from Church Point, Louisiana, ex-bronco buster, calf roper and bull rider, has to be one of the most amazing ever told. While most zydeco artists were weaned on zydeco, Fields started from ground zero at age 45 by learning the accordion, and simultaneously guided wife Geneva in learning the bass. Only a year-and-a-half later, Big Hat had released his first project, a cassette-only debut done under the tutelage of Lanor Records’ Lee Lavergne. Big Hat and his Footstompin’ Zydeco Band packed clubs and festivals in Louisiana. He toured the US and Europe, and released six albums sharing his unique Creole heritage through music.

In 1991, Thomas Fields bought a "hip-hop" club near Grand Coteau, renamed it the Big Hat Club, and started booking zydeco bands. At the same time, he began to learn to play the accordion and sat in with the house band, Pee Wee and the Boll Weevils. His wife, Geneva, learned to play bass, and soon they were ready to start their own band. Fields recorded a demo and brought it to the late Lee Lavergne of Lanor Records. Lanor released a cassette, The Big Hat Man in 1994, and then two CDs. 

With each recording project Fields continued to refine his chops. Louisiana is the Place to See and Come to Louisiana were his second and third albums. According to Offbeat Magazine’s reviewer Dan Willging, “1995’s Louisiana is the Place to See is a bit more primitive in terms of repetitive licks verging on monotony. Yet, Fields sustains it well with raw, primal energy, whoop-it-up howls, varied beats and occasional squawks, squalors and eerie tones from his accordion. Early on, Fields showed he had a humorous side as well, with lines like 'Hey Boozoo / you can’t do what you used to do' and how bald-headed men steal your women. Not to be forgotten was ‘No Names Blues’ where Fields shouts out the names of Clifton Chenier sidemen.”

Fields and his Foot Stompin' Zydeco Band went on to perform all over the United States, playing major music festivals, clubs, and casinos. After the death of Lee Lavergne, Thomas moved to Swallow's Maison de Soul label to record Louisiana Zydeco Man. Fields, who speaks Creole French, wrote most of his own songs. The majority of the songs are in English, but he included French songs as well. He also paid tribute in English to the Creole culture in "Old Creole". The CD began with "Baldheaded Woman," with a humorous repartee between Fields and his wife Geneva as a follow-up to "Baldheaded Men."  In 2003, Thomas Fields was crowned a "living legend" by his childhood hometown of Rayne, Louisiana.

In 2004 came the release of the CD Big Hat Zydeco Mix. The title didn’t lie. Thomas Fields gave listeners a great mix of zydeco music: original French zydeco songs, some Clifton Chenier classics, R&B from Wilson Pickett, swamp pop classics and the instrumental “Big Hat Stomp.” Backing Thomas in the band were Rodney Bernard on rub board, vocals by his wife Geneva, and vocals by guitarist Marty "WhiteBoy" Christian.The CD cover showed Thomas Fields performing at Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge where he frequently played on Saturday mornings.

Lisa Brande and Mark Trichke of Easy Street were band members for a while, and toured Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, and played the renown New Orleans Jazz Fest with Fields. According to Lisa, Thomas “was always totally spontaneous. He never had a set list, but we clicked. He liked the way I played fiddle to his accordion. He carried around an ancient PA system cobbled together with duct tape. His repertoire was totally old-school and he really was an entertainer in that he conversed with the audience, sometimes to excess! But he was so friendly and he would talk to everyone in every gas station and pitstop along the way when we were touring in his van.”

Thomas had a famous annual Labor Day party at his house. He would cook food and feed many hundreds of people for free. Bands would come and play. “It was a real rural Zydeco experience,” said Lisa. "I really miss that annual party.”

My song list for Enigma on March 3 will include Thomas Big Hat Fields classics “Bald Headed Men”, “Hole in My Heart” and “Mom Et Pop.” Check these out and see if you don’t agree that they will get you on the dance floor.

Photographer David Simpson (Eunice, Louisiana)

Photographer David Simpson

"Photographing Cajun and Zydeco musicians is a hobby that began as a voluntary project at work and that I have continued since my retirement in 2009.  Several years after starting some tourism-related web pages in 1996 on LSU at Eunice’s web site as a public service (I was half-time PR director), I decided to add web pages on individual bands.  At that time, few bands in the area were on the web.  I continued to add to those web pages until I retired. At that point, I uploaded many of the photographs to Flickr, and I have kept adding more photos.  I don’t get around as much as I used to, but I still regularly go to the Liberty Theater two miles from my house in Eunice for the Saturday evening ”Rendez-vous des Cajuns” show, and I photograph some of the Cajun and Zydeco bands at several of the major festivals in the area."  --- David Simpson

Like What You See?

Recommend FloridaCajunZydeco.com and this newsletter to a friend. Email Jim Hance at j-hance@wowpromotions.com to be added to this newsletter mailing list. See you on the dance floor.

--- Jim Hance