Thursday, September 01, 2005

Real Louisiana

Like everyone else, New Orleans and the other Gulf areas knocked flat by Katrina are on my mind. A couple years ago I picked up a Rounder Records Cajun/zydeco compilation called The Real Louisiana that I thought I'd share.

Now, just to get this out of the way: I know very little about this genre of music, so my taste in this matter can't be considered authoritative. I just happen to like this in a completely naive kind of way. But I managed to dig up some biographical detail.

Quand J'etais Pauvre - Dewey Balfa

Dewey Balfa was one of the first zydeco artists to bring the music to a wider audience. Born in Grand Louis, Louisiana in 1927, he rose to prominence in the 1940s with a family band called the Musical Brothers (which in fact included four of his brothers). In 1964, he was invited to play at the Newport Folk Festival. Here's Balfa's account:

"I had played in house dances, family gatherings, maybe a dance hall where you might have seen as many as two hundred people at once. In fact, I doubt I had ever seen two hundred people at once. And in Newport, there were seventeen thousand. Seventeen thousand people who wouldn't let us get off stage."

This watershed performance energized the Musical Brothers and in the following decades, they performed at festivals throughout the world.

Dewey Balfa

Madeline - Zachary Richard

Another Louisiana native, Zachary Richard writes and performs a distinctive blend of Cajun, zydeco and R&B. He has recorded both in English and French and is a passionate promoter of French language culture in Louisiana. He's even co-written a children's book on the Acadians in Louisiana. (If you don't know the tragic history of the Acadians--you should.)

Go to Richard's Web site for a ton of mp3 downloads.

Allons Manger - L'il Brian and the Zydeco Travelers

L'il Brian and the Zydeco Travelers are actually from Texas, but as they describe it, "smack dab in the heart of East Texas zydeco country. The creole people in this part of the country, most with strong Louisiana roots, are as least as ardent about zydeco as their neighbors across the border."

Alright, alright--don't get defensive about being from Texas now! These guys like to refer to their brand of zydeco as Z-Funk since they draw their inspiration from funk, soul and other forms of contemporary black music. Thematically, this is perfect for your Labor Day barbeque.

L'il Brian and the Zydeco Travelers

Looking for a simple way to contribute to the hurricane relief effort? Amazon (the U.S. site) has a Red Cross donation page.

Also, the Humane Society of the United States is soliciting donations to help the organization rescue abandoned animals and support pet owners struggling to care for them in the devastated region.


Blogger Brian said...

Great Louisiana music lives on the net on - the swamp and roll show on thursday nights is worth checking out

11:27 PM  

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