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New Year's Resolution: Dance More in 2015!

Happy New Year!

As usual, Update! Newsletter is here to remind you that we have lots of dancing in store for us in 2015. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, we have a new (hopefully monthly) dance at a new venue: Enigma across the street from Ricky P’s on Central Avenue in Saint Petersburg starting on Tuesday, January 13.

New to Cajun and zydeco dancing?

Check out Greg Benusa's Beginning Zydeco Dance Lesson on the “C-Z Video” page at FloridaCajunZydeco.com.

This Month's Spolight is on Boozoo!

“A King with Paper in His Shoe” in this issue can also be found on “The Story” page at FloridaCajunZydeco.com (desktop computer version only) all month long. “The Story” is not on the abridged mobile site that comes up on your smart phone.

FloridaCajunZydeco.com loves to travel!

Bookmark FloridaCajunZydeco.com on your phone, tablet AND computer for updated information on Florida dance events, as well as a national dance festival calendar. FloridaCajunZydeco has a specially formatted version for your smart phone, so you can get dance event information wherever you mosey.

Happy dancing!  Jim Hance


New! Inaugural Zydeco Dance at Club Enigma Tues. Jan. 13

Location of Enigma

5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Enigma, 1110 Central Avenue, St. Pete 33705. We're trying a new venue, so come out and let's break the dance floor in. Dance 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and drinks at the bar are 2 for one ($4 domestic beer will be two for $4). 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). As usual, requests are welcome; requests have been trending for Chris Ardoin, Beau Jocque, Roy Carrier, Horace Trahan, Boozoo Chavis, Steve Riley and J. Paul, Jeffery Broussard and Geno Delafose, and I have added new tunes to my music library for each. If you're new to Cajun and zydeco and want to learn the dances, our roving dance instructor Sharon can give you a few tips to get you started. Questions and requests: Sharon Stern, (727) 648-7858, sternsl@hotmail.com, or Jim Hance, (813) 465-8165, j-hance@wowpromotions.com.

Lipbone Redding Opens for Marcia Ball at Skippers Jan. 9

Lipbone Redding and Marcia Ball

8 p.m. Lipbone Redding opens for Marcia Ball at Skipper's

The Boston Globe described Marcia Ball's music as "an irresistible celebratory blend of rollicking, two-fisted New Orleans piano, Louisiana swamp rock and smoldering Texas blues from a contemporary storyteller." A one man orchestra with no electronic effects, Lipbone Redding's natural human sounds of throat singing, bass and beat-boxing, and his astonishingly realistic lip-tromboning are a must-experience evening of entertainment. You can catch them both this Friday at Skipper's this Friday.

Skippers Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa FL 33613, (813) 971-0666. Online tickets are $20 ($25 at the door). Buy tickets online at www.skipperssmokehouse.com

* * * * * * * * * *

Also, Sat. Jan. 10 Lipbone Redding is performing at The Ale and The Witch in St. Pete! Here is the info:

8:30 p.m. Lipbone Redding in the Tower Plaza Courtyard in front of The Ale & The Witch. Lipbone is a “voice-strumentalist” with a flair for the weird and comedic, and weaves his own story with funky rhythms, catchy melodies, brash humor, soulful singing, and inventive guitar playing. A one man orchestra with no electronic effects, his natural human sounds of throat singing, bass and beat-boxing, and his astonishingly realistic lip-tromboning are a must-experience evening of entertainment. Lipbone’s song “Sixteen Tons” is on the playlist at every major west coast swing dance competition in the world. His music is not only amazing to see performed, but its danceable too. Address is 111 2nd Avenue NE, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701. No cover charge.

Easy Dooz and Easy Trio in Florida

Easy Dooz

You can catch Mark and Lisa and all of their friends in SW Florida before they tour Louisiana.

Tues. Jan. 6 — 2-3 p.m. at Fruitville Library, Sarasota
Fri. Jan 9 — 6-9 p.m. at Sunset Lounge, Plantations Country Club, Venice, FL
Sat. Jan. 10 — 7-9 p.m. at Zydeco Grille

They will be back in Florida in February with engagements in Englewood and Sarasota. Check www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com to Calendar listings.

Editor's Note: You might remember last month’s Update! Newsletter featured an article on Clifton Chenier. Lisa Brande of Easy Dooz shared the stage with Clifton and wrote: “When I played with Big Hat at Jazz Fest [Clifton Chenier] never had a set list. We just hit the stage and he would crank up whatever came into his head — no count, no key, no name, just ‘GO!’  I like to call it ‘speed listening.’” (Thanks to everyone for all the nice comments on the Clifton Chenier article. --JH)

Gumbo Boogie January Performances

Gumbo Boogie Band

Jan. 9, 7 p.m. — Gumbo Boogie at Barefoot Tiki Bar, 5704 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach, FL 34217

Jan. 18, 5 p.m.  — Gumbo Boogie at Ace’s Live in Bradenton.

Additional information on Gumbo Boogie performances at FloridaCajunZydeco.com.

Lisa Haley & The Zydekats in Orlando Area

Lisa Haley

Photo of Lisa Haley by Peter Figen

Lisa Haley & The Zydekats is a Los Angeles-based band that formed about 20 years ago, and last played in Florida at the 2012 Cajun Zydeco Festival in Hollywood, FL. They were headliners at the very first Gator By The Bay festival in San Diego in 2001 (and played at the after party as well), and have toured the world since. I happen to know they are playing for the San Diego dancers again this Saturday at War Memorial Hall in Balboa Park.

They have received numerous testimonials over the years from great artists I respect like Clifton Chenier (who passed away well before Lisa formed her current band) and the fabulous country blues artist and producer Keb Mo, and the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for the album King Cake released in 2007. This band certainly helps make the case that great NEW original music in the Louisiana style can come from outside Louisiana. Lisa Haley’s vocals and fiddle playing are like no other, and she will keep you on the dance floor begging for more.

"Lisa has the Spirit in her, big time. Her music just plain grabs you and takes you over!"  --- Keb Mo

"The 'Mick Jagger' of zydeco." --- KUCI Radio

"That girl plays as good as a man!" --- Clifton Chenier, "King of Zydeco"

"Joyful, exotic, 'cornbread' voice...a pop approach to Louisiana spice... ala Janis Joplin."  --- Los Angeles Times

Feb. 5 —  4 p.m. Lisa Haley & The Zydekats plays at The Villages Mardi Gras Celebration, 1070 Canal Street, The Villages, FL 32162, Spanish Springs Stage. Information: 800-245-1081.

Feb. 12 —  4 p.m. Celebrate Mardi Gras with Lisa Haley & The Zydekats, a Mardi Gras Parade, floats and plenty of "party" to go around at The Villages, 1070 Canal Street, The Villages, FL 32162, Lake Sumter Landing Stage.  Information: 800-245-1081.
Check back at www.FloridaCajunZydeco for additional shows which may be added to their visit to Florida.

Porchdogs in Fort Pierce and Hallandale Beach


Feb. 7-8 — Taste of New Orleans Blues & Brews Festival featuring Michael Allman Band, Kelly Richey Band, The Porchdogs, McColley Brothers, 5th Element and Smokefog.

Feb. 17, 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. --- Mardi Gras Casino, 831 N Federal Hwy, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009. (954) 924-3200.

FloridaCajunZydeco.com loves to travel in your pocket anywhere you go. Bookmark FloridaCajunZydeco.com on your smart phone for more updates on the Porchdogs.

Feb. 14, 2015 — Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas in Hollywood, FL

Nathan Williams

7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Celebrate Mardi Gras weekend with the sounds and flavors of The Big Easy. Featuring legendary Bayou performers George Porter Jr and the Running Pardners, with an opening set by the Zydeco Cha Chas. Join the second line parade through the Downtown led by a brass band. Yes! There will be beads! ArtsPark at Young Circle. Time TBA. Admission FREE, 954.924.2980, visithollywoodfl.org

1 N Young Cir, Hollywood, FL 33022. Info: (337) 654-1824. More info at FloridaCajunZydeco.com when it's available. Website: http://www.hollywoodfl.org

Virginia Key Grassroots Festival

Virginia Key Grassroots Festival

Feb. 19-22, 2015, (Miami, FL) --- Bands include Keith Frank and the Solieau Zydeco Band, Preston Frank, Donna the Buffalo, and a host of bands playing Latin, folk and ethnic genres.

Zydeco is represented at Virginia Key Grassroots Festival by Keith Frank and his father Preston Frank. Returning zydeco dance instructors from last year and fixtures of the Florida dance world, Jerry Carrier & Jarene Williams, will be leading the Zydeco dance workshops Friday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 4:45 p.m. in the dance tent.

More info at www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com

Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak features Donna The Buffalo


Mar. 19-22, 2015, (Live Oak, FL) --- Music from bluegrass & newgrass, acoustic blues, roots rock, singer/songwriter, Cajun/zydeco, new & traditional folk and other forms of American roots music. Bands include Donna the Buffalo, Wood Brothers, Shovels and Rope, Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams & The Travelin’ McCourys, Blind Boys of Alabama, Larry Keel Experience, Jim Lauderdale, Joe Craven and Verlon Thompson. Tickets include 4 days of primitive camping and music Thursday - Sunday nights. Kids under 12 are invited to join for free. Along with the camping, there are nearly 12 miles of trails suitable for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature exploring. For RV hook ups, cabin rentals and golf cart rentals, please call (386)364-1683. Further information at suwanneespringfest.com.

More info on Cajun and zydeco dance opportunities in Florida at www.FloridaCajunZydeco.com.

From the Calendar: Chubby Carrier at CrawDebauchery II in March and BBC in April

Chubby Carrier by Jim Hance

March 21: Chubby Carrier headlines CrawDebauchery II festival in Pompano Beach. Other bands will include Johnny Sansone, Maggie Koerner and Slow Burn, Gale Holiday and the Honkytonk Revue, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, The Lee Boys and The Soul Revels. Amanda Shaw can rock!

April 18: Chubby Carrier is playing at Bradfordville Blues Club in Tallahassee

Find all the details on each Chubby Carrier show at FloridaCajunZydeco.com.

Tip 114: West Coast Swing “Telemark” Pattern

Michael Khiem with Sue Fries

In their first video dance tip for 2015, Michael Khiem and Sue Fries demonstrate a great way to create a tight left turning variation. Awesome for social as well as competitive dancing. 

Tip #114 Video Link.

More info on Michael Khiem and his world famous dance studio in San Diego at starlightdance.com.

This Month's Spotlight: A King With Paper in His Shoe

Boozoo Chavis

Boozoo Chavis (1930-2001), the third and probably the last “King of Zydeco,” was certainly one of the most colorful characters to grace the zydeco stage. Nicknamed “The Creole Cowboy” for the white Stetson hat he wore and the life he led offstage as a rancher and trainer of race horses, he made the first zydeco hit recording in 1955, a number which would not be topped for another 30 years. He then left the music business and turned to farming and ranching for nearly 30 years, disgusted about not getting paid what he thought he was owed for his hit record by the record companies. Then he returned to the music industry in the mid-1980s. He recorded a string of popular recordings which were quickly copied and covered by other zydeco artists. And he claimed the controversial and coveted title, “King of Zydeco”. Nearly every song Boozoo recorded was autobiographical about himself, his family and the farm life at his home at “Dog Hill”, and some versions were risqué. But what people loved was the simplistic yet raucous fast-tempo songs Boozoo achieved with his diatonic accordion that filled the dance floor as soon as the music began.

“I’m not bragging for myself, but this style of music what I got, it’s gonna make you dance. It’s definitely gonna make you dance,” Boozoo asserted.

The Rough-Hewn Boozoo Style

Boozoo’s music was raw and propulsive. He wore country clothes: a Stetson hat and an apron to keep his sweat off the accordion. With his rough-hewn voice and hefty accordion riffs, his band's one-chord grooves had a mesmerizing intensity that kept dance floors packed.

Chavis’ rough-hewn approach harkens back to the pre-zydeco “la-la” music he learned to play as a child. He grew up in a semi-rural section of Lake Charles, Louisiana known as Dog Hill, ostensibly because it was a former disposal site for stray animals and road kill. He learned to play the accordion by watching his father, who played house dances. As a child, Boozoo won a horse race, took the proceeds and invested it in a calf, and sold the full grown heifer to buy his first accordion for $35.

Paper In His Shoe

“We’d go to school and sometimes we didn’t have no socks. In the wintertime we’d put paper in our shoes to warm our feet. That’s the God’s truth. That’s where that song, ‘Paper in My Shoe’, comes from. Kids today are blessed.”

Boozoo is credited with recording the first zydeco hit song, “Paper in My Shoe,” selling about 130,000 copies in 1954. It was a novelty number with a good dance beat about a singer so down and out as to not be able to afford to re-sole his old shoes.  Over the years the song has been recorded by numerous artists, but the recording session did not go well for Boozoo. He was not used to working with a backup band. According to Goldband Records producer Eddie Shuler, “He'd start in before he was supposed to or come in late or leave off too soon," said Eddie, recalling his exasperation. To say the least, Eddie was at wit's end and was about ready to throw in the towel. "I was getting desperate and I had to salvage the session somehow. So, I bought a pint of Seagram's 7 for $1.35 and gave it to him. After a while it loosened him up and the whole group began meshing really well," added Eddie. "We were just about at the 2:47 of elapsed time [recording “Paper in My Shoe”] preferred as the ideal cut-off point by juke box operators when I heard this horrible crashing on the other side of the partition which separated the control room from the studio itself. When I peered around, there was Boozoo on his back and on the floor still playing without skipping a beat even after falling off his stool," claimed Eddie. Up to his death, Boozoo denied this version of the story, but Eddie's testimony was corroborated by others. “I just had to be very creative and edit out the smashing sound effect. You might say I invented the cold fade in that one," Eddie laughed.

The recording experience with Eddie Shuler and Goldband Records ended bitterly when Chavis was not paid what he expected and his other songs from the recording session were not released. Boozoo fumed, “You can go to Goldband right now and look upstairs. He kept Iry LeJeune’s records, and he’s putting them out now that Iry LeJeune is dead. Been dead over thirty years, but they’re coming out with his records. When I’m dying, he gonna come out with mine.”

According to Zydeco! author Ben Sandmel, “Chavis [was] one of many Creole and Cajun musicians whose encounters with the recording industry left them embittered. Exploitation and shady dealings continue to victimize black and white artists alike. But Chavis’ story also reveals an ugly legacy of the racism that he first experienced as a child and encountered again in the wake of his first record.”

Back in Dog Hill

For more than two decades, he worked as a race horse trainer on his acreage in Dog Hill, sometimes playing his accordion under the tree on his property or at a neighborhood house dance.

Then in 1984, Boozoo and his wife Leona were driving to a horse race and heard a radio advertisement for a dance featuring "Boozoo Chavis". Someone was impersonating him. Chavis and Leona concluded that his reputation was strong enough to restart his performing career.

Leona pushed Boozoo to reenter the zydeco scene professionally. Cajun and Creole music was growing in popularity as the disco music craze was fading, and zydeco was gaining an international following, thanks to Clifton Chenier. Most audiences were familiar with Clifton’s urban style of blues and zydeco, featuring a piano accordion backed by a full R&B band that included a front line of horns and a rubboard. In contrast, Chavis performed in a rural style, with a diatonic accordion backed by guitars and drums. Raw and gritty Boozoo was more like a Howlin' Wolf. He focused heavily on the beat, pounding out a driving dance groove that often wore the dancers out. His lyrics were simplistic and highly repetitive, yet there was no doubt that Chavis’ music was good dance music.

The Comeback and The Crown

''Dog Hill,'' a single about his neighborhood, put him back on local radio stations, and soon he was selling out dance halls. He went on to write songs about nearly everyone he knew, from his family to his manager. He also sang raunchy zydeco songs that were sold only locally from under the counter. Boozoo was back!

Booze proceeded to go on a tear of producing a new album every year starting with Louisiana Zydeco Music in 1986 which featured “Paper in My Shoe”, “Motor Dude Special”, “Dance All Night”, “Dog Hill”, “Boogie Woogie All Night Long”, and “My Toot Toot” among others! He followed with albums Boozoo Zydeco in 1987, Paper in My Shoe on Ace Records in 1987, Louisiana Homebrew in 1989, The Lake Charles Atomic Bomb (original Goldband recordings) on Rounder in 1990, Zydeco Trail Ride in 1990, and Boozoo Chavis on Elektra Nonesuch in 1991.

Eventually, Mr. Chavis began working beyond the bayou circuit. He took his first commercial airplane flight in 1990 to perform in New York City, and he began releasing albums nationally on Rounder Records. In 1993, he was anointed the “King of Zydeco” according to the wishes of reigning king Rockin' Dopsie who died in 1993. Dopsie had proclaimed himself the heir to Chenier. Dopsie had filled in for Chenier for the recording of a tune on Paul Simon’s Graceland album (and subsequently sued Simon over authorship credit of the tune --- the suit was dropped) and the mayor of Lafayette had declared Dopsie “King of Zydeco” at a concert there. But Dopsie’s was a contentious title in zydeco country, so much so that he avoided playing in Lafayette where he had become persona non grata. But Boozoo Chavis’ title as “King of Zydeco”, in contrast, was universally accepted.

Through the 1990s, Boozoo gained fans across the United States and disciples among zydeco musicians such as Beau Jocque, Keith Frank and Jeffery Broussard. Jo Jo Reed released a song called ''I Got It From Boo.'' Chavis and Beau Jocque played concerts together billed as showdowns; Robert Mugge made a documentary, The Kingdom of Zydeco, about their friendly rivalry for the crown.

Covered by Everyone

Boozoo’s recordings have been covered by nearly everybody in Cajun and zydeco: “Dog Hill” by Jeffery Broussard,  “Lula Don’t You Go to Bingo” and “I Got a Camel” recorded by Pine Leaf Boys; “Tee Black” recorded by Cedric Watson and Donna Angelle;  “Suzy Q” by Beau Jacque; “Motor Dude Special” by Horace Trahan and Jeffery Broussard; “I Went to The Dance” by Joe Simien and Lisa Haley; “Paper in My Shoe” by Lisa Haley; “Uncle Bud” and “Dance All Night” by the Bayou Brothers. This is not an exhaustive list, but a few examples of the rich legacy of Boozoo Chavis.

But Chavis had little patience when he heard one of his melodies in someone else’s song. He acknowledges his debt to the older house-dance players for such songs as “Paper in My Shoe” and “Forty-One Days”, but the turnaround rate for his tunes was unprecedented. In 1996, within weeks of the first time he played “You’re Gonna Look Like a Monkey,” it seemed to him that every band in South Louisiana was covering that song.

According to The Kingdom of Zydeco by Michael Tisserand, sometime before he went out to work on the barn, he turned on the radio and caught a new Keith Frank song, “Let Me Be,” that clearly owes its melody to Chavis’ “Suzy Q”. “I heard Keith Frank made my record ‘Suzy Q.’ But he sings, ‘Let me be, the place to be.’ Now you ask him, ‘What you mean with where you ought to be?’ What’s he going to tell you? He doesn’t know where you ought to be. He can’t tell you. If I make a record, I can tell you. I say, ‘I ought to be in the movies,’ or ‘I ought to be in heaven.’ But they can’t explain what they’re saying.”

No One Else Like Boozoo

“I tell it to the people on the mike. I say, everybody’s trying to play Clifton’s music, but there wasn’t but one. And there ain’t but one Boozoo. They ain’t got two, they got one. Boozoo. One. Before me there was none. After me there ain’t going to be no more like him. There’s going to be some more, but not like Boozoo.” Standing around the kitchen table, his sons nodded. In the kitchen, Leona Chavis laughed, “Not like Boozoo,” she called out.

As a promotional gimmick, Boozoo sold souvenir ladies’ underwear at his dance events with his picture printed on them and the instruction, “Take ‘em off! Throw ‘em in the corner!” (a reference to the lyrics of one of his most popular tunes, “Dance All Night”).  Chavis achieved local notoriety with raunchy versions of four of his tunes, “Deacon Jones”, “Uncle Bud”, “The Monkey and the Baboon”, and “Boozoo’s Blue Balls Rap”. These singles were only sold under the counter at record stores with XXX ratings and warnings about radio play. Chavis generally did not perform these versions at his public concerts — unless there was an overwhelming demand. And then there would be screams of delight from dancers when he performed them and sang the raunchy lyrics.

Chavis told Peter Watrous of the New York Times, “Sometimes I’m on stage looking at all those people dancing, and I feel sorry for them. I say to myself, ‘After you die, Boozoo, there ain’t gonna be no more like you.’ This is the best they’ve ever heard. I’m a genius, no doubt about it.”

Ben Sandmel adds at the end of the chapter on Boozoo in his book Zydeco!,  “If Boozoo Chavis didn’t emanate genuine warmth along with such irascible bluster, he would simply sound arrogant. But Chavis paid his dues, more than most. Before reemerging, he was known only to devotees of obscure records. His debut recordings, which had been reissued on an esoteric blues anthology in 1968, soon went out of print again. As a collector of such albums, I was amazed to learn in 1984 that Boozoo Chavis was still alive, let alone that he had actively resumed performing. His comeback immeasurably enriched zydeco, and opened vast opportunities for ensuing generations.”

Boozoo Chavis Discography on iTunes

Johnny Billy Goat (Rounder Heritage Records), 2000
Zydeco Trail Ride with Boozoo Chavis (Maison de Soul Records), 1990
Boozoo Chavis (Rhino), 1990
Live at the Habibi Temple (Rounder Records), 1994
The Lake Charles Atomic Bomb (Rounder Records), 1990
Boozoo, That's Who (Rounder Records), 1993
Down Home on Dog Hill (Rounder Records), 2001
Who Stole My Monkey? (Rounder Records), 1999
Zydeco Home Brew (Maison de Soul Records), 1988
Hey Do Right (New West Records), 1997
Zydeco Live (Boozoo Chavis and The Magic Sounds with Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas (Rounder Records), 1989
Festival Stage 1989 --- Festivals Acadiens et Créoles (Valcour Records), 2013
Dat's Zydeco: Best "Old Skool" Zydeco (Maison de Soul Records), 2002

Note: For the month of January 2015, this story also appears at http://floridacajunzydeco.com/the-story.html


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See you on the dance floor in 2015.  --- Jim Hance