Nu Generation of Zydeco Artists Taking Over LB Bayou Festival

  • 06/14/2012
  • Terelle Jerricks

By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

Don’t expect the same headlines as you had in last year’s Bayou Festival. This year’s Bayou festival won’t just feature legends of the old guard such as Barbara Morrison, who is playing this year on the Blues stage, and Dr. John, who’s not performing this year.

In fact, this year’s festival features “Nu” generation of zydeco’s progenitors with Chris Ardoin and NuStep, JPaul jr. & the Zydeco Nubreeds, Lil’ Wayne & Same Ol’ 2 Step, and Geno Delafose and French Rockin boogie. Each of these bands bands embody the old school zydeco sound but have infused modern day rhythm and blues, gospel, and hip hop in a genre that already embodies a lot of older musical forms.

Each of these artist could be considered the children — musically speaking — of the legendary Roy Carrier, the founder of the zydeco mecca The Offshore Lounge in Louisiana, the place where aspiring zydeco musicians met, learned and jammed with other zydeco musicians during the 1980s.

Chris Ardoin & NuStep Zydeco will get you on your feet. They play a lot of familiar rhythm and blues songs that folks in their 20s, 30s, and certainly 40s would recognize. It really doesn’t matter what culture accordion music is played whether polka, tejano or Brazilian music.

Out of the bunch, JPaul jr is probably the most in touch with what younger generations are wanting. JPaul released a single in 2009 called “I Know You Want to Leave Me,” which is an obvious rip from the first line of the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” The song is essentially about preventing a significant other from leaving, but he makes it clear that he is too proud to beg and plead. I couldn’t but wonder if JPaul had infused some of the hypermasculinity of hip hop into his brand of zydeco. But listen to his other tracks, right down the ones he’s released this year, they probably sound more like R&B rather zydeco with barely a hint of accordion and wash bound music mixed in.

Lil Wayne & Same Ole 2 Step hews closer to traditional music even as they produce original music. His music would fit well in any R&B club, but don’t expect too much slow dancing at Rainbow Lagoon. Zydeco is intended for you to shake a tailfeather through every song.

Geno Delafose & the French Rockin Boogie literally has zydeco in his genes, picking up where his father John Delafose left with his country-western offshoot of zydeco with occasional Creole or French lyrics. Of the four, Geno Delafose is probably the oldest of the bunch considering he’s been doing his thing for nearly 20 years.

Roy Carrier may not be living, but his influence certainly lives on these young generation of players.

In 1980, while still working the rigs, Roy purchased a neighborhood roadhouse in Lawtell and christened it The Offshore Lounge. Throughout the 80s it became the place for aspiring zydeco musicians to meet, learn and jam with other zydeco musicians. It is difficult to find any zydeco musician that came of age in the 80s and 90s that weren’t encouraged and tutored by Roy. From helping Beau Jocque find his boogie to encouraging John Delafose to perform publicly and giving him a bunch of songs in the process to loaning equipment to Zydeco Force to giving Geno Delafose his first paying gig, Roy was at the center of zydeco music development.

This year we are back to the more traditional Cajun and zydeco sounds. Returning is Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie with 13 other (mainly) zydeco bands on the main stage. Barbara Morrison and Guitar Shorty are returning this year, with Sherry Pruitt and seven other groups working the blues stage.

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