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Scott Billington

Going for It: Zydeco in the Recording Studio

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When I was sixteen years old, in the late 1960s, I dreamed of making records. I collected them, too, especially blues on 45 RPM discs. Yet, the men behind the records intrigued me as much as the music. Read more

Richard’s Club and Boozoo Chavis: The Golden Age of Zydeco

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Historians can look back to several junctures of time and place in American music when it was clear that something significant was happening. For Southern blues, it might have been Beale Street in Memphis in the early 1950s, when B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland pioneered a modern blues sound that continues to resonate today. For bebop, it might have been 52nd Street in New York City in the 1940s, when Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk deconstructed jazz. For zydeco, I would argue that it was Southwest Louisiana in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Boozoo Chavis came roaring back onto the scene at Richard’s Club in Lawtell. Read more.

Beau Jocque: The Funkiest Band in the Land

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When I first heard Beau Jocque in 1992 at the Quarterback Lounge in a rundown neighborhood of Lafayette, Louisiana, I felt as if I had been transported to a primeval moment in which all the music I loved—funk, blues, R&B and zydeco— had coalesced into a single, relentless groove. I was also a little bit scared. Read more

Richard’s Club and Boozoo Chavis: The Golden Age of Zydeco

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Historians can look back to several junctures of time and place in American music when it was clear that something significant was happening. For Southern blues, it might have been Beale Street in Memphis in the early 1950s, when B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland pioneered a modern blues sound that continues to resonate today. For bebop, it might have been 52nd Street in New York City in the 1940s, when Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk deconstructed jazz. For zydeco, I would argue that it was Southwest Louisiana in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Boozoo Chavis came roaring back onto the scene at Richard’s Club in Lawtell. Read more.

A Short History of Zydeco

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The rollicking dance music called zydeco is a quirky invention that could only have happened in Southwest Louisiana, where descendants of French and Creole-speaking African Americans (who today call themselves Creoles) merged their ancient songs with a rhythm and blues beat. The essential instruments are an amplified accordion, and a frottoir or scrub board, a corrugated sheet-metal vest played with bottle openers that is surely one of the loudest percussion instruments every invented. Read more.