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Author Topic: Zydeco 1949-2010  (Read 571 times)

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Offline Bunker Hill

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Zydeco 1949-2010
« on: December 12, 2016, 02:00:49 AM »
Any takers?

Might make a nice Xmas gift for fans of the genre - just published.

Offline lindy

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Re: Zydeco 1949-2010
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2016, 09:34:04 AM »
Wow, never thought I'd see a discography of Zydeco sides.

Here are three other suggestions for that Zydeholic member of your family who's tough to buy Christmas gifts for:


As the title says, this Arhoolie-turned-Smithsonian CD has some of the first recordings of songs that were clearly a mix of Cajun, Creole and Zydeco. It has an interesting 1954 cut of Clifton Chenier trying to cash in on the early R&B craze.


This Robert Mugge film is about a small slice of the Zydeco scene in the 1980s, but through lots of interviews with members of the Zydeco royal families of that time, you get a good education on what came before. I saw this film a half-dozen times when it first came out, and could never figure out why I couldn't get my hands on a DVD copy. It turns out that things got reaaalllyy messy with song rights, and for 15 or more years Mugge wasn't allowed to show his film anywheres noways nohow. The lawyers are now satisfied with their pounds of flesh, and we once again have access.

Here's a clip from the film:

If you can watch it without getting up and dancing around the room, I suggest you check your pulse.

3. Third suggestion, a book that has the same title as the film, but it is NOT a companion book. The author said that he simply could not think of a better title, so he asked Mugge for permission to use his film's title:

Tisserand does a good job of getting into the local cultural scene of southwest Louisiana, where this music was born.

I'll give you one more link:

Andre Thierry is the best three-row button accordion player in Zydeco (he also plays keyboard accordion). He's a Louisiana transplant to the SF Bay area. He did not write the text on this web page, but he gave the space to someone named David Simpson, who I don't know. It's a succinct description of the origins of Cajun music and its evolution toward Zydeco.

The vids on Andre's website are worth watching, though you can skip the one with Sammy Hagar.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 09:33:42 AM by lindy »

Offline Suzy T

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Re: Zydeco 1949-2010
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2016, 09:41:06 PM »
Andre Thierry was born and raised in the Bay Area, around Richmond.  His grandma was Lena Pitre, who put on the zydeco dances for many many years at St. Mark's church hall in Richmond, and made the best gumbo!!  His family is from Southwest Louisiana, but he didn't grow up there himself.  He used to sometimes come and sit in with Danny Poullard when he was about 6 years old, playing a tiny frottoir (vest rub board).  He has grown up to be one of the greatest zydeco players of his generation!

Offline lindy

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Re: Zydeco 1949-2010
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2016, 09:31:11 AM »
Thanks for the correction, Suzy. I got my information from some Zydeco fanatics I knew while I was living in New Orleans, so I took it as legit. I see that next week he's doing a show in Carencro, wish I could be there for that one. We haven't succeeded in luring him up to the Pacific Northwest for a show in too long a time. 

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Zydeco 1949-2010
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2017, 12:43:20 AM »
Here's a belated review of said book published in Names & Numbers, issue 81, 2017

Zydeco Discography: A Discography of Louisiana and Texas Creole Music from 1949 to 2010 by Robert Ford and Bob McGrath. [Vancouver,] Canada, Eyeball Productions, Inc., 2016; paperback, 382 pp. ISBN: 978‑0‑866417‑9‑4; $49 plus shipping.

Eyeball Productions' latest African‑American music discography is a companion to The Blues Discograph[iesJ 1943‑1970 and 1971-2000, which between them occupy 1290 pages, the majority of which are set in a two column layout. Zydeco Discography's pages are seventy per cent fewer than those of the blues books; they are also about half their size, and the text is set across the width of the page.

This number‑crunching may seem a dry way to open a review, but it focuses on an important aspect of the book, which is that, for the first time, it offers researchers a sense of the size of the post‑World War It Creole and zydeco corpus.

The decadal end date is arbitrary, but as good a choice as any; zydeco continues to be both a developing music ‑ as the Introduction notes, from the 1990s onwards, it 'has at least as much in common with soul, funk and hip hop as it does with blues' ‑ and one where some of the younger practitioners (one thinks, for example, of Cedric Watson, Keith Frank and Geno Delafose) continue to be concerned with both heritage and development. The front cover over carries a well‑known and striking photograph, taken in 1934, but the decision to exclude pre‑war recordings is correct, given  that BGR*5 will both amend some existing entries and add a number of early Creole and zydeco titles, recorded both commercially and by folklorists.

Within the chosen time frame, the research his been assiduous. An example: the modest assistance that I was able to give the project included pointing out relevant material on Harry Oster's LP A Sampler of Louisiana Folksongs, including three tracks by Alma Bartholomew, recorded in the mid‑fifties. I thought these obscurities (sung, incidentally, in 'old', meaning standard, French, rather than the Louisiana version) would constitute her entry; in the (in the event includes another eighteen songs (and unknown number, recorded by Ralph Rinzler, whose titles are not known), all credited to Alma Barthelemy (which seems likely to be her real name, arid should perhaps have been the chapter heading), the most recent of them taped in 1973.

Mrs Barthelemy's entry can serve as a parable for the discography as a whole: it contains a lot more than I'd expected, and made me aware that I knew a lot less about recorded 'French music' than I had thought. I suspect that this will be true for most readers of this review, which in itself is a sufficient reason to recommend the book's purchase.

Because of its recent end date, Zydeco Discography takes on additional interest as one of the first books to venture into discography without discs, as it were. The Album Index sic includes 'no label or # [mp3] ‑ Raymond Williams,' and Williams' entry lists what looks like a CD's worth of titles that have never appeared on a CD. In the body of the book, there are three songs by DC and the Zydeco Country Boyz with the same mp3 'issue' details; they are not included in the Album Index, presumably through oversight. Myspace and Facebook urls are noted for these titles; given the often evanescent nature of webpages, it might have been advisable to give 'date accessed' information, here and in other places. How far it is possible to carry out discography in a digital, downloading world is an issue that has been preoccupying some of us, and Zydeco Discography gives an indication of what is possible. (As I write this, however, I'm thankful that I don't have to explain the issues involved to some of our distinguished predecessors, now departed.)

A somewhat related aspect of technological development is that low production costs have made it increasingly easy for bands to produce CDs, often with short existences and limited distribution, to sell at gigs and on‑line. The Album index includes many discs with no issue number (there are fifteen Munckmix CDs from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival alone), and no fewer than forty (thirty‑nine CDs and one LP) with neither label name nor issue number. Here again, Zydeco Discography demonstrates that it is possible to document such items. If discography began as a way to let collectors know what they were listening to, and has increasingly become a process of scholarly documentation, the present work reminds us that it has also and always been a way for enthusiasts to find out what's available, or frustratingly no longer available. (I have made a note of a number of items to track down while reading for this review, and have been reminded to keep looking for the first two Goldman Thibodeaux CDs ‑ the ones without the Anglo, wannabes ‑ on Louisiana Radio.)

Say too koreck is a probably deliberate misspelling by Crazy Cajun; it's also a discographical aspiration, albeit one that's unattainable. A reviewer can always find quibbles, therefore: 'Cliston Chanier' is well‑known to have been Clifton Chenier (who recorded Say too ko reck), but should still be cross‑referenced; the good practice of giving an exact location for live recordings fails with Chenier's 1969 AFBF titles, which were performed at the Royal Albert Hall; and it seems unlikely that Rockin' Dopsie recorded Jolie Blood in 1971.

On a more general level, one wonders why accompanying musicians are listed in the format 'name (instrument)' rather than the more usual 'name, instrument.' Thus, to revert to Chenier's AFBF recordings, the personnel is given as 'V/acdn with Robert St. Julien (d) Cleveland Chenier (wb),' rather than 'V/acdn; with Robert St. Julien, d; Cleveland Chenier wb.' The chosen format consumes more space and, especially for personnels more extensive and complex than the example chosen, is less easy to read; the eye, and the mind's eye, keep stumbling over the brackets.

However, this too is a minor gripe, not amajor drawback. As far as I'm able to judge,Zydeco Discography's coverage is comprehensive: every artist I'd heard of before I openedit is in there, and a great many I hadn't. Coverage of many of the artists with whom I was (as I had thought) familiar reveals many recordings of which I was unaware. This is a discography that blazes new trails, both procedurallyand in its coverage; as such, it is both a majorachievement and an important research tool.
Chris Smith


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