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Way Down in Louisiana

“Alright! Get it on, let’s have a party! Are you ready?” the bandleader says from the Kingfish stage, smiling and raising both his arms. “Let’s have a party! Let the bon ton roulette! Crawfish pie and filé gumbo!”

A triumphant run through Fats Domino’s slow, sensual “Je Marche Le Plancher [Good Hearted Man]” opens the Kingfish set followed by a swinging rendition of “Calinda.” Hart’s in a three-piece suit, the rest of the band wears white turtlenecks and dark blazers, and Chenier sports a patterned tie atop a colorful shirt printed all over with little alligators.

A super funky version of “Party Down (At the Blue Angel Club)” follows, complete with Senegal’s wah-wah guitar licks and Dural’s great B-3 work and backing vocals. Hart is on top of every riff and solo, and Chenier works a great counter-rhythm by clacking his large turquoise and silver ring on his accordion shell.

The set features a couple of intriguing unreleased numbers, and the band follows Chenier’s every move as he connects “Hello Josephine” to “I Ain’t Got No Home” and takes “My Babe” through a range of lyric improvisations that lead to the edge of “Hot Tamale Baby.” [The performance] overflows with visual proof of the band’s masterful interplay on a set that includes blues numbers, a waltz, a percussion-heavy breakdown, familiar tunes and rarities, and, the outro vamp, a Chenier solo on Dural’s melodica!”


Press photos from the period feature a smiling, elegantly coiffured Chenier in a coat and tie behind his accordion.

“I met Etta James in 1955,” he said. “Went all over Florida, New York, Chicago, everywhere, me and Etta James. She stayed with me about a year and something on the road. One time they pulled us over, thought Etta James was a white woman, and wanted to kill us. Etta James had to pull some papers out and say, ’No, I’m no white woman. I’m colored.”

Looking out for the legendary female vocalist, it seems, was seldom an easy assignment. “Clifton Chenier used to lock me up in a room, ‘cause I used to like one of his little band boys,” James told Drust. “The little band boy was about nineteen and I was about seventeen. And Clifton Chenier used to put me in the hotel and lock the door, give me food in there, and keep the room locked. But that didn’t help, really, ‘cause I had a slick way of doing it. We could crawl out the bathroom window, along the pipes, crawl in somebody else’s bathroom window, and get in another room.”


These descriptive passages are from the new book, Way Down in Louisiana — Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop Music, by Louisiana writer, editor, arts executive, and producer of concerts, events and radio programs, Todd Mouton. Mr. Mouton has been writing articles on individual artists on the Louisiana music scene for twenty years, and this book is a compilation of some of those articles with newly authored stories on the only real “King of Zydeco” from interviews with the artists who knew him and were changed by him.

The stories take you to the beginning where the genre of music we know as zydeco began in the early 1950s. Interestingly, the first two chapters are stories on two of Chenier’s desciples: Buckwheat Zydeco (who began his fabulous career in zydeco as a member of Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band, an article originally written in 1994), and blues guitarist Sonny Landreth (who also was a member of the Chenier band before launching his own stellar solo career). The book describes the myriad intersections of so many popular artists with the trajectory of the great Clifton Chenier: Paul Simon, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Etta James, Chuck Berry, Duane Allman, John Hiatt, Boozoo Chavis, Marcia Ball, Al Berard, Bob Dylan, David Hidalgo, David Greeley, Allen Toussaint, Marc Savoy, Michael Doucet, Steve Riley, Chris Strachwitz, Roddie Romero, Dewey Balfa, Grandma Gee Gee, C.J. Chenier. The list of artists mentioned in the book goes on.

And a society deeply separated along racial and cultural lines.

This is a great read for anyone interested in Louisiana music, history and culture from the perspectives of musicians who have been influenced by Clifton Chenier.  Here is a link to a 63-page sample of the book, and online store.


Welcome to ISSUE #36 of FloridaCajunZydeco.com Update!

This newsletter showcases dance events from the FloridaCajunZydeco.com website as well as articles not on the website pages. The feature story this month is "Way Down in Louisiana", the new book by Todd Mouton.

EVERY FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAY in St. Petersburg you can find us dancing at EDGE OF 9 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.

ROSIE LEDET FLORIDA TOUR ANNOUNCED. Check out the Calendar page at FloridaCajunZydeco.com for performances in three towns April 29, 30 and May 1.

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
Publisher, FloridaCajunZydeco.com


First and Third Tuesdays in St. Pete ---
Cajun-Zydeco Dance Edge of 9

TUESDAY, JAN. 5 AND TUESDAY JAN. 19 CAJUN-ZYDECO DANCES:  Join us 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Edge of 9, 900 Central Avenue #25B, St. Pete 33705. We meet to dance here on the FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS each month. The music will be played softly from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for socializing and dance lesson. The music volume goes up at 7 p.m. No cover charge, parking lot, painted cement dance floor, NO SMOKING. Hungry? You're welcome to bring food in from sandwich shop or restaurants. Check out the venue at facebook.com/edgeof9. Questions and requests: Jim Hance, (813) 465-8165, j-hance@wowpromotions.com.

My playlist is not set, but I have accummulated a few songs for Tuesday, January 5 which you should enjoy: Steve Riley, Marcia Ball (she's coming to town on Friday, Jan. 8!), Boozoo Chavis, Donna The Buffalo, and a cover of a classic Jackie Wilson hit by Chris Ardoin.

By the way, a number of our dance friends have had difficulty finding Edge of 9, particularly since there are restaurants and other establishments on Central Ave. using the name "Edge." The exact location is actually on First Avenue South, not Central. It is best to drive down First Avenue South, and pull into the parking lot just west of 9th St. (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.). A sign is posted on the sidewalk on First Ave. South to let you know you're there.


TONIGHT! JANUARY 2, 8 P.M.  Beth McKee is appearing at the Hideaway Cafe, St. Pete. Address is 1756 Central Avenue, 33712. "I'm bringing the whole she-bang to St. Pete tonight (full 4-pc band and Swamp Sista Renee Arozqueta on harmonies and hand percussion). Get ready for some high energy fun!"


Easy Street January 2 and January 9 --
That's It Until February!

7-9 p.m. Vermont's Easy Street Duo with Mary Morella at Zydeco Grille, 8501 Placida Rd. (Cape Haze Plaza), Englewood, FL 33946, Phone 941-828-1472. Website: zydecogrille.com

Lisa Brande want to let everyone know they will be in Louisiana for most of the month of January. So catch them those two days.

Easy Street duo is comprised of Mark Trichka and Lisa Brande, who share their time between Putney, Vermont, Nokomis, Florida and Cecilia, Louisiana. They are full time musicians, having performed for over 20 years, playing swing, bluegrass, cajun and zydeco, rockabilly and honkytonk and all manner of popular, sometimes obscure, but always interesting music, on fiddle, mandolins, guitars and voices. They also perform under the name the Maple Sugar Serenaders for retirees in Florida and Vermont, and are members of other groups as well. One band in which they both played was Thomas “Big Hat” Fields. Last year they performed with friends from Louisiana at Fogartyville in Sarasota to a sold-out crowd under the name Easy Dooz.


Gumbo Boogie  (Tampa Bay)

Tampa Bay’s resident Louisiana party band is Gumbo Boogie. You can catch Gumbo Boogie at the following venues this month.
Sat., Jan. 9 — 7 p.m. Gumbo Boogie Band at JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe, 987 S Packinghouse Rd, Sarasota, FL 34232.
Sun., Jan. 24 — 5 p.m. Gumbo Boogie Band at Ace’s Live Music, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd, Bradenton, FL 34210.


Steve Riley, Grammy Winner and
Music Teacher

Excerpt from an article by Amanda McElfresh,
published in Lafayette’s The Advertiser

Steve Riley has played music all over the world. He’s a Grammy Award-winner, and for years he and his band, the Mamou Playboys, have been one of the best-known acts from the south Louisiana music scene.
This fall, though, Riley expanded his repertoire to new territory — that of a music teacher.

It all came about as Amber Dwyer, an enrichment director at St. Genevieve Elementary School, was looking for new activities for the after-school program. Through the grapevine, she learned Riley was looking to increase his involvement in education and the community.

“I’ve been teaching music since I was a teenager, mostly one-on-one lessons and music camps, but I was looking for a way to kind of ramp up what I was doing,” Riley said. “Christine Balfa, a friend of mine, said I should try to teach an after-school program. I thought it was a great idea and I ran with it. It’s been fantastic all the way around.”

Riley ended up teaching at two St. Genevieve after-school programs. For elementary students, his classes focused on Cajun culture and history. Middle school students received lessons in various instruments, including the accordion, guitar and triangle.

“The elementary students were able to learn some Cajun songs,” Dwyer said. “He wanted to show them Cajun instruments, and some of the kids wanted to learn how to play, so he was able to teach them a little bit. In the middle school, enough students wanted to learn instruments that we were able to create a band.”

Riley said he was able to provide instruments to the students through the Al Berard Memorial Fund. Once they had the ability to play music in their hands, the students’ progress, even just by taking classes one day a week, was beyond what anyone expected.

“They were awesome. I was really impressed,” Dwyer said. “They were able to put a band together and play really well. The children really enjoyed it. On the last day, we had a little crowd of parents and grandparents. They played some songs and spoke a little bit of French. Everyone enjoyed it so much.”
Riley said the six-week program quickly became “the most gratifying thing I do.”

“I think it’s a combination of me liking to teach and being able to teach what I do pretty well, and also the fact that the young kids are engaged, focused and learning at a rate that astounds me,” Riley said. “At first, I didn’t want to bring instruments. We were just going to sing. But in the first couple of weeks, they were asking immediately to play instruments, so we were able to do that for them.”

Besides the programs at St. Genevieve Elementary and Middle, Riley also taught classes this fall at Mamou High, giving him the opportunity to work with students of all grade levels. Now that he has some classroom experience under his belt, Riley said he’s already thinking of ways to improve his lessons in the spring, including adding more activities to keep the younger students busy.


To B(flat) or not to Be

Posted to Facebook by Ann Savoy and Marc Savoy

I hear new recordings made today and sometimes I think that maybe some of the young Cajun musicians have taken new innovations a little too far. Then I listen to some of my recordings of 45 RPM’s made in the early 60’s and I say to myself “Be quiet, Mark. These young musicians aren’t doing anything that you weren’t doing at their age.”Some of my early musical pursuits were my fascination with playing in F on an accordion in the key of C. I liked the sound of a song played in F and would experiment to determine how many of the G tunes could also be played in the key of F. This eventually evolved into playing part of a tune in G, then modulating to F. When I began playing dances in Bridge City, Texas with the Rambling Aces, we made the first recording of this innovation in 1964 when we recorded “Donnie Moi Les” with Huey Meaux on the Crazy Cajun label. The dance crowd loved it when we’d change the keys in the middle of a tune to the extent that we recorded several other 45’s in the same style; French “J’ai Ete Au Bol and Between Eunice and Opeloussos.”In 1967 I was playing Louisiana dance halls with other local musicians including the wonderful fiddler, Eldridge Aguillard of Eurie. I played a C accordion, but Eldridge always kept his fiddle tuned standard A instead of down to G. Very often during the dance he would be featured on a few fiddle numbers without the accordion. Some of his favorite tunes were Tolan Waltz and Love Bridge Waltz – both in B-flat position. I liked the sound of B-flat very much and I would sometimes try to play along with my C box but I realized that I could only play part of the tune because I was missing a note. My C box had the F and the D note of the cord, both being on the draw, but not the B-flat note. To solve this problem, I took the #1 top reeds out and retuned all four of the draw note G’s to B-flat. I could now play a simple rendition of Love Bridge Waltz in B-flat on an accordion in the key of C. We recorded a 45RPM of this in 1967 on the -------label. The band members, especially the singer, loved to play this new recording because it wasn’t as high as when played in G. This new sound was so quickly embraced by the dancers to the point that we would get requests for Love Bridge Waltz in B-flat several times in one night. With the sudden popularity of this new sound, I decided to order reeds in the key of B-flat so that I would have an accordion in that key making it possible to play many of the Cajun tunes in B-flat. I made the first accordion in this key in 1978. And soon afterwards used it in the recordings on the Savoy Doucet CD on arhoolie #389.Soon afterwards, after our CD was released, the first musician to request an accordion in B-flat was Steve Riley. Steve’s CD #---- recorded in -----was mostly played on that instrument. The next person to order an accordion in this key was Preston Frank. My all time favorite key was still D, and, since I wasn’t using my B-flat accordion, I agreed to sell it to Preston. He still plays the first B-flat accordion ever built. The demand for B-flat accordions, generated by the popularity of Steve Riley and Preston Frank, caused such a demand for instruments in that new key, that I soon found myself building 10 B-flat instruments for every one in C. Today, reed-makers are supplying Cajun accordion builders with any key from the 12 note scale.

Marc Savoy



The Festival-O-Rama page of FloridaCajunZydeco.com features events throughout the United States and Europe. 2016 festival season opens with Houston Creole Heritage Festival in January. Here is a brief list of Florida events early in the year.

January 30, 2016 --- Houston Creole Heritage Festival (Houston)
Bands include Jerome Batiste, Major, Hustlers Brass Band, Brian Jack, Step Rideau, Platinum Players Zydeco Band, NuBreeds and Lil Jab. One day event 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Discovery Park, 1500 McKinney Street, Houston, TX 77010. $10 general admission. Information: 713-256-5278.
Website: http://houstoncreolefestival.com
February 18-21, 2016 --- Virginia Key Grassroots Festival (Miami)
Grassroots Festival features Keith Frank and his dad, Preston Frank, Donna the Buffalo, Applebutter Express, Jim Lauderdale, and a wide variety of ethnic bands February 18-21 near Miami. A “culture camp” provides an opportunity to get a closer look at some of the artists and explore workshops Feb. 14-17 before the festival. http://virginiakeygrassroots.com
Culture Camp at Virginia Key Grassroots Festival
Feb. 14-17: Come early and immerse yourself in instrument, dance, movement & cooking workshops with some of the most talented artists in the GrassRoots community! For $25/day you can attend workshops, indulge in a fabulous dinner and attend a nightly dance.  You can attend as many or as few workshops per day as you like; your admission fee includes as many as you want to attend.  Registration for specific workshops will be Sunday afternoon, followed by dinner & dance. http://virginiakeygrassroots.com
February 26-28, 2016 --- Annual Riverwalk Blues & Music Festival
(Ft. Lauderdale)

The 26th Riverwalk Blues and Music Festival will count with performances by: Twelve time Blues Music Award Nomimnee Jhonny Rawls, Grammy Award, and Blues Music Award Winner Jason Ricci, BMA Nominee & Blues Blast Award Winner Chris O’Leary, BMA Nominee Albert Castiglia, Rock N Roll and Roots sensation Nikki Hill, Joey Gilmore, Joel Dasilva and Midnight Howel, Josh Rowand and Pitbull of blues, Kat Riggins, Juke, Mark Telesca, Slip and the Spinouts. http://www.riverwalkblues.com
March 3-5, 2016 --- 7th Annual Aura Music and Arts Festival (Live Oak)
Performing at AURA are live electronica pioneers The Disco Biscuits, Bay area feel-good rock band ALO, high-energy funk quintet The Main Squeeze, The Heavy Pets with a special tribute to the ‘80s featuring Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman, hybrid tribute fusion masters Pink Talking Fish, nine-piece power funk army Turkuaz, Tom Hamilton’s American Babies, the southern psychedelia of Bright Light Social Hour and many others!  http://www.auramusicfestival.com

March 17-20, 2016 --- Suwannee Springfest (Live Oak, FL)
No information posted yet: http://www.suwanneespringfest.com/
April 2 & 3, 2016 --- Crawdebauchery Festival (Pompano Beach)
Tentatively, bands will be Chubby Carrier & Bayou Swamp Band, Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie, Dwayne Dopsie & Zydeco Hellraisers, Bruce Daigrepont, and a variety of other New Orleans talent. New Orleans has always stood as one of the most unique cities in the U.S., seamlessly blending native culture with French, Latin, and Creole influences. Musically, the Big Easy is known as the birthplace of jazz. Come on out and celebrate the city and this cultural heritage at the inaugural CrawDebauchery Festival. Enjoy an unconstrained burst of vitality, where music fans will come together to hear live performances from acclaimed national and regional musicians, whose genres range from jazz to bluegrass, Cajun to rock. Taking place on two stages. alongside musical groups, festival-goers can feast on local traditional New Orleans cuisine like beignets, jambalaya, and po-boys, while browsing arts and craft, and enjoy a taste of the bayou right here in Florida.
Website: http://crawdebauchery.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crawdebaucherymusicfestival/?fref=ts.

April 9-11, 2016 — Tampa Bay Blues Festival (St. Petersburg)
Bands include Tommy Castro & The Pain Killers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Curtis Salgado, Aaron Neville, Walter Trout, Biscuit Miller, and Sugar Ray & The Bluestones. Not interested in the outdoor event? After Shows at the Palladium are just $20 featuring bands from the festival. Tickets for festival and After Shows available online at http://www.tampabaybluesfest.com/buy-tickets.php.


Atlanta Dances

Atlanta Cajun-Zydeco Association will be hosting the following bands over the next several months:
January 9 --- Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys
February 13 --- Tardi Gras dance with Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys
March 12 --- Lil’ Malcolm & the House Rockers
March 19 --- Pot luck & House Party at the Kwashas 5-9 PM
April 9 --- ACZA Anniversary party with Dennis Stroughmatt & Creole Stomp

Additional information: http://aczadance.org


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!


Please click on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Florida-Cajun-Zydeco/362375913950779 and HIT THE LIKE BUTTON. If you "Like" us you can see more of our news postings on all things Cajun and zydeco in the state of Florida --- and elsewhere too! Enjoy good music.

Regards, Jim Hance