Photo: Clifton Chenier & Rod Bernard on the cover of Boogie in Black & White
By now we know the difference between Cajun and zydeco music. As Michael Tisserand put it in our interview with him, “The difference between Cajun and zydeco music is zydeco music reflects the Creole origins of its performers, heavily influeced by African Carribean and African music. Cajun music reflects the Acadian white Cajuns coming down from current day Nova Scotia.”
They are two distinct art forms that are rooted in two very different cultures. And while it’s understandable that members of each culture would want to maintain their singular identity, crossing the barriers of white / black, fiddle / rubboard or French / Creole can be cathartic both musically and socially.
Over the last several decades musicians from both Louisiana sects have crossed those bridges and collaborated on recordings and at live shows. In fact, one of the first recordings of what would go on to become zydeco music is an archive of Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee performing with Creole accordionist Amede Ardoin (you can listen to the snippet, recorded by Alan Lomax, here). Below you’ll find more instances of Creoles and Cajuns teaming up to celebrate the unique flavor of Louisiana roots music.
Dennis McGee performing with Bois-Sec Ardoin
Dewey Balfa, Rockin’ Dopsie and Nathan Abshire performing “Oh Bye Bye” and “Jolie Blond”
Clifton Chenier and swamp pop artist Rod Bernard performing “Ma Jolie Blonde”
Steve Riley with Sherelle Chenier at Jazz Fest 2009
John Delafose & The Eunice Playboys performing Cajun song “Jolie Catin”