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Interview: The birth of Creole United

Creole United

Credit: Creole United | photo by John Vettese

Two years ago, Creole musician Dexter Ardoin needed some musicians to play with him in Portland, Oregon. Ardoin’s cousin Sean, Andre Thierry and Jeffery Broussard came to the rescue, leaving behind a memorable performance.

The musicians began to wonder – if Creole music, the traditional sound that gave birth to zydeco, could make fans dance in Oregon, why not back home in Louisiana? They decided to give it a

“We got to the airport in Houston, me, Dexter and Jeffery said we need to record this,” said Sean Ardoin. “We, as Creoles, have never gotten together to work together. We need to do that. The Cajun artists are doing it and we need to do it too.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do it. The next thing was we’ll do what we’re doing here. We’ll do the Creole standards and create some new Creole standards. Pay homage to the old school and at the same time, give it a new flavor. Not just repeating and recycling Amede’s (Ardoin) songs.”

Traditional Creole music with new flavors is the fuel that runs Creole United, a collection of three generations of Creole and zydeco artists. Ranging in age from 22 to 67, the group teams newcomers with some of the music’s most historic names.

Their debut CD, “Non Jamais Fait,” Creole for “never been done,” features 11 original songs done in French and English. Missing is the R&B and rap that fills much of contemporary zydeco. Yet the songs have harmonies, kick-drum beats and other modern stylings that ears of all ages can appreciate.

“When we finished this project, it gave me a healthy, renewed affection for the Creole music,” said Sean Ardoin, grandson of Creole legend Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin. “I grew up with it and was always trying to figure out how to make it younger, how to make it more hip.

“Now that I’m older and I’ve done all the young hip stuff, it was really refreshing to go back and play just like when I was growing up. “

“After playing, mixing and mastering this CD, I listened to it a lot and I said ‘I really do like this.’

There’s much to like as the musicians are cream of the crop. Sean Ardoin and his 67-year-old father, Lawrence, are descendants of Creole accordion great Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin.

Jeffery Broussard, son of the legendary Delton Broussard, helped usher in the modern zydeco era with Zydeco Force before returning to his roots with his current band, the Creole Cowboys. Grammy nominee and CD co-producer Andre Thierry is an accordion prodigy, musically christened by zydeco king Clifton Chenier.

Rusty Metoyer, 22, is a rising star on the zydeco scene. Edward Poullard, a student of Canray Fontenot and one of the few Creole fiddlers remaining, teaches at cultural camps across the country.

Creole United has already played prime gigs, such as Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette and the Sebastopol Cajun/Zydeco Festival in California. In 2015, the band performs in Philadelphia as part of the Zydeco Crossroads project.

Plans are already in the works for a follow-up CD with more guest artists, such as Chris Ardoin, Chubby Carrier and Lil Nate.

“We’re just going to be Creole and creative and see what comes out,” said Sean Ardoin. “We’re going to include everybody because I don’t think Creole should be exclusionary. If the Cajuns can have 15 different bands with changing one person out, why can’t we?

“We’re going to push the Creole unity. We’re going to strive to keep getting better.

“This is one of the only cases in which having more than one cook won’t spoil the roux.”

Herman Fuselier is food and culture editor for the Times of Acadiana and Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La. Contact him at hfuselier@theadvertiser.com.

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