Credit: Beau Jocque | photo copyright The Times Shreveport, 1997
In an article for Lafayette’s The Advertiser, Zydeco Crossroads contributor Herman Fuselier highlights a new documentary called By the River of Babylon.
Don Howard and Jim Shelton have been working on the film for the better part of a decade, starting first with a focus on Beau Jocque and the music of Louisiana before expanding to include to the changing climate of the state’s natural landscape in the wetlands.
From the article:
“We started out making the film just about the music and the dancehalls,” said Howard, a professor of radio, TV and film at the University of Texas at Austin. “There’s a problem with that kind of movie because the only people that are going to get it already have it because they’ve already been there.
“We didn’t really know how to make the best film about it. Then we read this book, ‘Bayou Farewell,’ which was an introduction to what’s going on in the wetlands. We realized the dancehalls are dying on a certain level, but also the landscape itself is drowning.
“Those obviously aren’t causally related, but it seemed to be a poignant thing to make the film about.”
Read the full article here and watch the trailer below. The documentary airs tomorrow evening on WORLD Channel‘s America Reframed program. It will be available worldwide at worldchannel.org beginning Wednesday, June 17th.
A 1989 documentary called J’ai été au Bal (I Went to the Dance) explores the histories and dynamics of Cajuns and Creoles in Louisiana. Filmmakers Les Blank, Chris Strachwitz and Maureen Gosling incorporated interviews with musicians, including Michael Doucet and Queen Ida, with clips of the Louisiana dance halls, archival footage and performances of some of the original Cajun and Creole players. Watch the documentary on Youtube below.
Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. performed at El Sid O’s Zydeco & Blues Club in Lafayette, LA on October 29, 2014 for the Zydeco Crossroads documentary now in production. Here’s a clip from the forthcoming documentary by director and producer Robert Mugge for WXPN.
Credit: Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble | photo via Instagram by @lisabethweber
Last Saturday night zydeco fans old and new gathered together at the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center for an evening of music and dance. They were lead by Lafayette’s Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, while Lake Charles’ Harold Guillory gave dance lessons to the newcomers. Watch a clip of Guillory and the crowd having a blast on the Zydeco Crossroads Facebook page here.
Credit: Zydeco dancing at the Blue Moon Saloon | photo by John Vettese
Zydeco isn’t just all about the music, it’s also all about the dancing. And in case you haven’t heard, the first Zydeco Crossroads Dance Party is coming to District N9NE on December 6th with Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble. Lucky for us beginners, Lake Charles dance instructor Harold Guillory will be holding lessons before the show. But if you want to get a head start on nailing the fancy footwork (or you want to see how fun Zydeco dancing can be) check out Jambalaya Magazine‘s list of the five best Zydeco dancing videos on YouTube below. More information for the dance party can be found here.
Music draws inspiration from everywhere, including the natural world. Popular music has called on animals from Big Mama Thorton’s “Hound dog” to Ylvis’s “What Does the Fox Say?” and Zydeco is no exception.
Some songs use animal sounds, like Boozoo Chavis barking in “Dog Hill,” and other songs simply reference them. Beau Jocque borrowed heavily from Boozoo, including barking on stage. Dogs also appear in songs by Rockin’ Dopsie, John Delafose and Willis Prudhomme and in Rosie Ledet’s double entendre “I’m Gonna Take Care of Your Dog.” Goats are also popular, with several recorded versions of Boozoo Chavis’ “Johnny Ma Cabri” (“Johnny Billy Goat”). Nathan Williams sings “Follow Me Chicken” and “Everything On the Hog.” Beau Jocque sang “Who Stole My Monkey?” and “Don’t Sell My Monkey.” Boozoo also had “You’re Gonna Look Like a Monkey,” and Zydeco Joe’s well-known for “Jack Rabbit.” Cats, bulls, mules and cows round out the Zydeco menagerie.