musicsm.GIF (1888 bytes)

   Bonne Musique

bonnemusique1.jpg (13201 bytes)
B.J. Deculus

bonnemusique2.jpg (22426 bytes)
Stephen Guillory Sr.

bonnemusique3.jpg (14516 bytes)
Billy Butler

bonnemusique4.jpg (18839 bytes)
Dennis Gurwell

bonnmusique5.jpg (15477 bytes)
Bervick J. Deculus

The photos above were scanned from Bonne Musique Zydeco's second CD, Keep on Dancin'. Photos are by Chester Mitchell and used with permission of Bonne Musique Zydeco.

Bervick J. Deculus was executive producer of the CD, and Billy Butler was co-producer.

The CD was recorded at Dino M. III Recording Facility and Studio and engineered by Dino Maddalone, Torrance, California, at Studio 9. It was engineered by John Gellies, Tujunga, California, and mastered back in Louisiana at Master-Trak Enterprises in Crowley.

For more information on Bonne Musique Zydeco, go to the band's Official Web Site.


It's a long way from Eunice to Los Angeles, but the route from Southwest Louisiana to California is one that has been traveled by many members of the Creole community. They found new opportunities on the West Coast, but they also did not want to lose their cultural roots. Bervick "B.J." Deculus, a Eunice native who learned to speak French before he spoke English, made the trek west some 30 years ago. He settled in Los Angeles, working as a Los Angeles County Sheriff, but he has never lost his love for the unique music that he grew up with.

As Michael Tisserand describes in his book The Kingdom of Zydeco, Creoles on the West Coast have always felt a strong need to keep their culture alive. They formed bands, organized dances in church halls, and eventually brought Zydeco legends like Clifton Chenier and Eunice's John Delafose to California to perform. Some California Creoles like Queen Ida Guillory and her brother, Al Rapone, have gone on to forge careers as Zydeco musicians performing throughout the nation. But, just as in Louisiana, the real strength of Creole culture lies in the devotion of musicians who keep the traditions alive and flourishing in their own communities. When B.J. Deculus found that by the early 1990s Zydeco bands were no longer performing frequently in the Los Angeles area, he decided that he needed to help fill the void. With the help of other Louisiana natives, he put together the Bonne Musique Zydeco Band.

To assure that the band maintains a strong tie with traditional Louisiana Zydeco, Deculus decided to bring in native Louisiana accordionists who play single- and triple-row accordions, among them Al Rapone, Willis Prudhomme, Jo Jo Reed, Christopher P. Ardoin, Bryant Keith Broussard, Kent Menard, and the late Alphonse Paul Ardoin. The band gained recognition quickly. The West Coast Cajun and Zydeco Music and Dance Association presented Bonne Musique Zydeco with the Best Traditional West Coast Zydeco Song Award in 1993 and Most Versatile Band Award in 1995.

The group helped to create new social clubs featuring Zydeco like Bon Temp Social Club of San Diego, Bon Temp Social Club of Orange County, and Les Bon Temp Creole Social Club of Gardena. Bonne Musique Zydeco also plays in church halls, at festivals in both Southern California and the Bay area, and at private events. The group has performed with Queen Ida at Soccer Fest USA and other events.

In spring 2001, Bonne Musique Zydeco released their first CD, Gumbo Mix, which gives listeners 18 cuts that offer some great music for a wide range of musical tastes– traditional rural Zydeco, Zydeco blues, Cajun, New Orleans-style. Along with Creole standards, the band performs songs by Zydeco legends and a number of original songs.

Bonne Musique Zydeco's first album features Willis Prudhomme singing an old-time rural Zydeco favorite, "Chère ici, chère là-bas"; his own "La valse de paradise" (to the tune of "Le Hack à Moreau"), and Bonne Musique Zyedco's version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe."

Jo Jo Reed's first song on the CD is "California Two-Step," a West Coast version of "Eunice Two-Step" in French and English. Reed also performs Clifton Chenier's "Tous les temps en temps," Boozoo Chavis' "Oh, Bye Bye," and the band's own "It's Time to Go," a nice example of Zydeco blues. Christopher P. Ardoin is featured on "Jongle à moi," Beau Jocque's "Why You Wanna Drive Me Crazy?" and Rockin' Sidney's "Ay, Cayenne."

The late Danny Poullard, a native of Richie, a settlement about four miles south of LSUE, was one of the Bay area leaders in California Creole and Cajun music until his death in April 2001. He is featured on the CD performing accordion and rubboard on three numbers sung by Bonnie Thomas Deculus, including two Cajun songs, "Madeline," originally recorded by Adam Hebert and then by the Balfa Brothers, and "J'ai fait une grosse erreur," the Iry LeJeune hit, plus Bonne Musique Zydeco's own "Moi et moi beau," a song about a woman's feelings after dancing all night and then seeing her man going off to work.

Los Angeles musician Dennis Gurwell handles the accordion and vocals on Hanks Williams' "Jambalaya," on "Meet the Boys on the Battlefront," which gives listeners a taste of New Orleans-style Creole rhythms, and on another original song, "Keep on Dancing That Zydeco." Drummer Billy Butler sings B.B. King's "Woke Up This Morning" and "Down in Eunice Town," a Bonne Musique Zydeco song with a Caribbean rhythm.

B.J. Deculus, who plays bass on all of the tracks, is the executive producer. Billy Butler and Stephen Guillory are co-producers. The CD was recorded in California but mastered by Marc Miller at Master Trak in Crowley, Louisiana.

Michael Tisserand, in his liner notes to the CD, concludes, "All this Bonne Musique–literally 'good music'–keeps players, dancers and listeners finding their way to the Creole traditions. In doing so, Deculus continues to help light up the California sky with the sounds of zydeco, one night at a time."

As of 2003, Bonne Musique was still shining bright. In 2002, the group released a second CD, Keep on Dancin', with a mix of songs that will make listeners want to do as they are instructed by the album's title. All of the cuts feature the band's California-based musicians: Billy Butler is on drums and rubboard; Dennis Gurwell plays single-row, triple-row, and piano accordion; Bervick J. Deculus is on bass; and on guitar is Stephen Guillory Sr., a Creole musician who was born in Beaumont. The four band members rotate on handling lead vocals.

The CD's title song was written by Deculus, Butler, and Gurwell. They reprise another original song, "Down in Eunice Town," which was also included on their first CD. Among the other songs are two in French, "Je Va's Jamais La Voir Encore" (covering the version recorded by Geno Delafose) and D. L. Menard's "The Back Door." There are also classic Zydeco hits like Rockin' Sidney's "Don't Mess with My Toot Toot" and Clifton Chenier's "I'm a Farmer"; the New Orleans sound of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "They All Asked for You"; B.B. King's "Woke Up This Morning"–a total of 13 cuts that offer a nice variety. All listeners are going to find music on this CD that they like.

For more information on the CD and on Bonne Musique Zydeco, contact Bervick "B.J." Deculus and Big Berv Music, (323) 292-6807, or check out the Bonne Musique Zydeco Web Site.

Posted 1-27-03.
All photographs and text by David Simpson.

Return to the Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Music Home Page.

Visit LSUE's web pages for prospective students.