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  New Resources

  Described below are some of the resources that became available during the last couple of years before early 2009 when  LSUE's music pages were converted into an archive.

Today, Cajun and Creole music is played by bands around the world.  How and why do people raised in very different cultures become so fascinated by the French music of South Louisiana that they learn to play the accordion and form their own bands? Blair Kilpatrick’s 2009 book, Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music (published by the University Press of Mississippi), offers a beautifully written personal account of how a 39-year-old psychologist with no musical background was captivated by the music she heard on a brief visit to Louisiana and the way she pursued her dreams of playing the music herself. In describing that journey, Kilpatrick also gives us insights into the Cajun music scene in Chicago, her encounters on visits to Louisiana with musicians like Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy, and Bois Sec Ardoin, her experiences during Cajun Week at the Augusta Heritage Arts Center in West Virginia, and, after she and her husband, Steve Tabak, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in California, their friendship with her most important mentor, the late Danny Poullard, the leader until his death in 2001 of what continues to be the most significant Cajun and Creole music scene outside Louisiana.  Anyone interested in Louisiana French music will especially enjoy this narrative, but, beyond that, Blair Kilpatrick’s account of the way her life was transformed pursing her dream should appeal to all readers. Blair Kilpatrick visited the LSUE campus April 17, 2009, to give a noontime presentation in the LeDoux Library and an evening performance as part of the LSUE Performing Arts Series. She has a personal website and a web site for her band, Sauce Piquante.
Click thumbnails at left to see photos of the LSUE performance that also included Kevin Courville and Steve Tabak on fiddle; Tommy Michot and Jude Moreau on guitar and accordion.

Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California: Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World is a thoroughly researched study that covers the Creole migration from Louisiana to the West Coast, musicians like Queen Ida and Danny Poullard (the "one person who inspired this book more than any other"), and the way that the careers of record producer Chris Strachwiitz and documentary filmmaker Les Blank contributed to the development of the music scene. There is also coverage of race relations, the place of Louisiana French music within the national folk revival that began after World War II, and much more. The volume, which was published in 2008 by the University Press of Mississippi, includes photographs, extensive endnotes, a bibliography, a discography, a list of documentary films, and a detailed index.
 One Generation at a Time: Biography of a Cajun and Creole Music Festival by Barry Ancelet and Philip Gould, published by the Center for Louisiana Studies of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, covers the 32-year history and evolution of what today is generally known as Festivals Acadiens (the music portion is actually named Festival de Musique Acadienne). The text by Barry Ancelet, the prime organizer of the event, includes invaluable information about each year's festival and about the performers and their music.  Most of the photographs are by Philip Gould, including many classic, iconic images of musicians that you have probably seen before such as the cover photo of Dewey Balfa and his daughter Christine. Gould captured an amazing dueling accordion photograph of Zachary Richard and Wayne Toups and, by fortunate chance, a shot of a young Steve Riley as a spectator gazing intensely next to the stage on which a few years later he would be a main attraction.  To purchase this book or the other Center for Louisiana Studies book described below, go to the nonprofit Books XYZ web site.
Anyone seriously interested in Cajun music needs to get a copy of Accordions, Fiddles, Two-Step, and Swing: A Cajun Music Reader, edited by Ryan A. Brasseaux and Kevin S. Fontenot, and published in 2006 by the Center for Louisiana Studies. In addition to articles first published in various periodicals, the book features new essays that describe the current music scene and address questions about the future of Cajun music. There is also a chronology and a list of recommended readings.
Especially welcome in 2007 is the publication of Iry LeJeune: Wailin’ the Blues Cajun Style by Ron Yule with Ervin LeJeune, released by Fiddle Country Publishing. The book is based on extensive interviews with Iry’s surviving son, Ervin, and many other family members, friends, and the musicians who knew him. In addition to offering the only detailed account of Iry LeJeune’s life, including the broad range of experiences that helped to shape his creative genius during his all too brief career, the book also provides details and stories about his recordings, the only complete set of French-English lyrics of his songs available, a discussion of Iry’s accordion style written by Chris Miller, and other lagniappe, plus numerous photos never before published.
Yule also published a compilation of biographies of all of the musicians inducted in the Lake Charles Chapter Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame—some 170 musicians, accompanied by photographs. The current edition goes through 2006, with a supplement being issued each year to update the publication. Inductees are from throughout the region, ranging from Amédé Ardoin and Joe Falcon to Jo-El Sonnier and Jackie Caillier. 
Dedans le Sud de la Louisiane, shot in 1972, may very well be the best documentary on Louisiana's French music and culture ever produced, so it is very good news indeed that this classic film by Jean Pierre Bruneau is now available as a DVD, handsomely packaged in a small book that contains discussions of songs and marvelous old photos. In an overview of the discovery of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cultures by outsiders, Bruneau describes himself as “seduced by the music and the lifestyle of the Cajun bayous and the desire to share with the world the beauties of this vibrant and fragile French speaking community.” The film gives us music and interviews featuring Nathan Abshire, Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin, the Balfa Brothers, Clifton Chenier, Bee and Ed Deshotels, Bee Fontenot, Canray Fontenot, Adam and Cyprien Landreneau, Dennis McGee and Sady Courville, and Revon Reed. The DVD notes are in both French and English, and the film has English subtitles. Bruneau obviously fell in love with the French-speaking people of South Louisiana and their world, and that love is apparent in every frame of this film, an abiding affection that continues to this day in the care with which he has prepared the DVD package.

The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings, published in fall 2006, reviews almost 6,000 CDs. The entries for each musician or group include a few sentences of biographical information, followed by brief reviews. The reviews offer an overall assessment along with pointed evaluations of particularly good or bad cuts. All of the songs are not listed, but each review does include the names of  the individual musicians who played on the CD (if they can be identified). Most of the major figures in zydeco are included, going back to Amédé Ardoin up through Geno Delafose, Chris Ardoin, and Keith Frank, though others, like Leroy Thomas and Jeffery Broussard, are never mentioned. The reviews, primarily by Tony Russell and Chris Smith, are certainly incisive and can be quite acerbic.  They appreciate zydeco, but their criticism can be unsparing. For example, reviews describe one performance as "constipated" and another as "seven minutes of mindless agitation." In addition to entries on recordings by individual musicians, the book also reviews compilations.


Updated 5-23-09.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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