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6 must read books about Zydeco


Credit: Keith Frank | Photo by Philip Gould | www.philipgould.com

The best way to learn about zydeco is to experience it live but for those who are curious about who plays the music, where the music comes from, and the culture that produces it, find these at your local public library.

The Kingdom of Zydeco by Michael Tisserand is the definitive work on Creole history and culture in Louisiana and Texas, exploring the musical and social evolution of zydeco.

Stretching from the bayous of Louisiana to the oil towns of East Texas, the kingdom of zydeco is ruled by accordion-playing, washboard-wielding kings and queens named Beau Jocque, Boozoo Chavis, Queen Ida and—the King of Zydeco himself—Clifton Chenier. In this book, the leading expert on zydeco music provides the ultimate guide to this red-hot music and its origins.

South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous by John Broven focuses on the Cajuns of Louisiana, but he addresses zydeco’s role in that corner of the country as well.

Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California: Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World by Mark DeWitt traces the zydeco movement to Northern California through migration patterns, California counterculture and other social changes.

Queen Ida. Danny Poullard. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank. Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. These are names that are familiar to many fans of Cajun music and zydeco, and they have one other thing in common–longtime residence in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are all part of a vibrant scene of dancing and live Louisiana-French music that has evolved over several decades.

Cajun Music and Zydeco by Philip Gould is a book of photographs telling the story of zydeco over the course of ten years (see photo above).

In this engaging book Gould takes us into the fascinating world of south Louisiana’s celebrated musical cultures. Cajun Music and Zydeco contains more than one hundred color photographs of the performers, dance halls, and appreciative fans that have made the state’s indigenous music a national, even worldwide, phenomenon.

Let the Good Times Roll: A Guide to Cajun & Zydeco Music by Pat Nyhan is a comprehensive index of zydeco and cajun recordings featuring Top Ten lists and resource guides for further exploration.

Zydeco!  by Rick Olivier and Ben Sandmel applies the tradition of oral histories to zydeco, combining photos and interviews for a wide-angle view of the culture.

In eighty stunning portraits of the genre’s leading people and places and through extensive interviews and historical commentary, photographer Rick Olivier and journalist/musician Ben Sandmel have created a book as spirited as the rollicking music it so vividly illuminates.


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