Cajun Music

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived thru March 2001:Cajun Music
By Lordhobgoblin on Monday, March 05, 2001 - 12:20 pm: Edit


I have just recieved from Amazon today Zachary Richard 'Mardi Gras Mambo', havn't had time to listen to it yet though. I've ordered another CD from Amazon (forget what it is now) but it hasn't arrived yet.


By Loucheliver on Sunday, March 04, 2001 - 08:22 pm: Edit

Lord H,
How is your search for Cajun music coming? I have some, not many, but some, CDs I could burn for you.
The Liver

By Bluedog1 on Wednesday, February 14, 2001 - 07:05 am: Edit

Artemis hits a good point. Cajun Mardi Gras, in the past consisted of horse-mounted and walking bands of Cajuns going from door to door to solicit donations for the Mardi Gras meal. There was also a right amount of drinking, and prank playing, as well as the tradition of begging the seemingly well-to-do for a "sous" to put toward the group meal, and chasing chickens. The Cajun Mardi Gras costumes are also more of a cross between clown and scarecrow costumes with elaborate masks made from flexible door screening. It is quite a sight to see and lives on in the rural parts of Sowuth West Louisiana.

By Lordhobgoblin on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 10:54 am: Edit

Thanks all for the useful info. It gives me a good starting point. I'll let you know what I think after I get hold of some CDs. Unfortunately I'm old fashioned about using credit cards on the internet and Cajun music is very rare to find in UK retailers, so it'll probably be a while.

Loucheliver, yes I am Irish but have been living in London for the past 12 years.


By Artemis on Monday, February 12, 2001 - 06:52 am: Edit

Bluedog is right, Zydeco was born with black musicians living in the "Cajun" culture, but it has spread from there. Zachary Richard (white) talks about it a lot in his music without actually playing much of it.

I would add Zachary's version of "Chanson de Mardi Gras" to Bluedog's list, though. The Balfa Brothers play the traditional version, Beausoleil plays the prettiest version, and Zachary's is very mournful and spooky.

For those who aren't familiar with it, the Cajun Mardi Gras (now virtually extinct) was a whole different monkey from what happens in New Orleans, and "The Song of the Mardi Gras" describes it.

By Loucheliver on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 07:24 pm: Edit

Hey, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, what do I know? It is all Canada. Even growing up in Michigan, I only knew Ontario, and Quebec. The rest was all just-well, "Canada". Oh yeah, I think PEI is in a time zone one half hour different. Or is that Newfoundland? Damn Canucks anyway.

By Perruche_Verte on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 07:10 pm: Edit

Actually, you're slightly confusing your Canadian provinces, but yeah, Ms. MacMaster takes the Nova Scotian fiddling style to new heights. She is really at the same level as someone like Liz Carroll or maybe Phil Cunningham, no longer exactly "traditional" in that she really pushes it beyond the limits of the genre. Great music.

"Shipping News" does feature an accordion, in passing.

By Loucheliver on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 06:31 pm: Edit

Actually, a hell of a book. I am absolutely flummoxed when it comes to musical instruments, but the writing in that book made playing the accordion come alive. I could feel the soul necessary to play each type of music.
Here's a long shot, if "The Shipping News" dealt with Nova Scotia, and you are musically inclined, does the name Natalie MacMaster ring any bells? Freaky shit if this synergy comes together.

The Liver

By Perruche_Verte on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Yes, good read! She doesn't play herself, but she did her homework. The subject, almost the protagonist, of that book is a little Italian button accordion. Its maker comes to New Orleans and meets with a tragic end there. His accordion passes hands many times between musicians of different races, regions and musical styles, becoming less and less playable. Great book, very sad and funny.

I think her previous book "The Shipping News" is a little less ambitious but even better. It's set in Newfoundland.

By Loucheliver on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Have you read "Accordion Crimes" by E. Annie Proulx? Buttons, rows, bellows, etc... And a darn nice read for us non squeezebox folk as well.

The Liver

By Perruche_Verte on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Being an accordion man I am often asked if I play this stuff. I don't, but I am an enthusiastic listener.

A note on instruments: the Cajun accordion is a single-row button accordion with at least three sets of reeds. Usually the instrument is built with no grille on the front, so you can see (and often hear) the little palettes that cover the reeds flapping up and down while the musician pushes the buttons. Most of the old instruments came from Germany. When WWII cut off the supply, Cajuns began making their own instruments and giving them a dry tuning with flattened thirds. Now it's a cottage industry and the best makers, like Marc Savoy, send their instruments around the world.

Zydeco players use either the Cajun accordion, the piano accordion, or both. A piano accordion player can use keyboard styles that come from blues/funk/pop, etc., which add flavor to the music.

By Bluedog1 on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 03:03 pm: Edit

Strickly speaking there is a difference between Cajun music and Zydeco, though in recent years the line between the two has blurred somewhat. Zydeco was and still is a mostly the music of south Louisiana blacks and is a mixture of all the music styles natice to America and some Arfican rhythms mixed in. To differentiate between the two here are two lists and some well known songs for some of them:


Boo Zoo Chavis "Paper in My Shoe"
Clifton Chenier
Rockin' Dopsie "Please Come Home"
Geno Delafose "French Rockin' Boogie"
Rosie Ledet "Sweet Brown Sugar"
Buckwheat Zydeco "Zydeco Tous Pas Tous"

Cajun Music

Beausoleil "La chanson de Mardi Gras"
Terrence Simien "Uncle Bud"
Wayne Toups "Johnnie Can't Dance"
Zachary Richard "Who Stole My Monkey"
Dewey Balfa "Chanson de Mardi Gras"
File "Sugar Bee"

Next instalment will be on Louisiana R&B and swamp blues.

By Don_Walsh on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 12:33 pm: Edit

Artemis is the Man on this one (among other of course.)

Being merely a child of curb jumping city slicker late 19th century Irish/German and Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans, I bow to his expertise, it's his blood, I would not dare to kibbitz.

But I do like Zydeco when I hear it, which is sadly not often in Bangkok. Unless I am watching one of those van Damme movies where the Belge kickboxer pretends to be Acadian...slightly less believable than the ones where he pretends to be a reanimated corpse...those were films where the casting director was a critic of his acting skills. Naw, scrub that, Jean's Ok. Certainly no worse than Chuck (always get a kid in the script) Norris, gee I remember when he was a real martial artist in the USAF but that was a LOOONG time ago...I better quit 'afore I start telling Apache jokes.

By Artemis on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 11:21 am: Edit

Swallow Records (from Cajun surname, Soileau), is THE Cajun record label. Don't know if they have a website, but they used to have a really nice printed catalog.

Look here if you're REALLY interested in Louisiana music:

By Artemis on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 11:10 am: Edit

"Zydeco is Cajun party music."

First of all I am a Cajun.

ALL Cajun music is party music. The term "Zydeco" comes from the title of an old Cajun song "Les Haricot Sont Pas Sale" (The Snap Beans Are Not Salty). "Haricot", pronounced the way Cajuns pronounce it, comes out "Zydeco".

Many Zydeco musicians are not strictly Cajuns, but French-speaking Negroes, or people of mixed blood. Zydeco bands typically feature traditional Cajun instruments such as the washboard, "Petite Fer" (triangle), or even spoons. Accordian and fiddle are heavily featured, but that's true of most all Cajun music.

I recommend:

Zachary Richard
Clifton Chenier
Boozoo Chavis
Buckwheat Zydeco
The Balfa Brothers (not Zydeco, but as Cajun as it gets)
Mamou (Cajun meets Van Halen)

By Loucheliver on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 10:31 am: Edit

Zydeco is Cajun party music. Great to get the feet a tappin' and the booty shakin'. Buckwheat Zydeco is one of the most famous practioners thereof. Let the good times roll!
And Hob, did I read in a long ago post you are from Ireland? Or did I just pull that out of my the green mists of my grey matter?

The Liver

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 09:11 am: Edit

Thanks Loucheliver,

What exactly is Zydeco?


By Loucheliver on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 08:51 am: Edit

A good compilation set is the "Alligator Stomp" series. And Buckwheat Zydeco is always good.

The Liver

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, February 11, 2001 - 08:38 am: Edit

Recently I picked up a compilation tape of 'Cajun' music and found it quite interesting. I've no idea about such music so I was wondering if any of our esteemed forum members from Louisiana could suggest some musicians to listen to as a starting point.


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