Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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  Zydeco Joe

Zydeco Joe Mouton

The death of Zydeco Joe Mouton on Nov. 17, 2007, comes as a real shock.  According to Herman Fuselier's obituary in The Daily Advertiser, Mouton died after a very brief bout with pneumonia. He had performed only a couple of days before at the annual El Sido's Thanksgiving Benefit. His death is a great loss.

No one else could improvise lyrics in Creole French like Zydeco Joe. No one else could pump that accordion to make dancers move with the same energy that he sang about in "Jack Rabbit." No one else could equal his joyous celebration of the deep sense of community in Creole culture that pulsates through "Mama Fred." No one else could capture the vitality of rural Creole masculinity the way Zydeco Joe did in "You Can't Rooster Like You Used To."  Zydeco Joe was a true original.

2006 Update: Black Cat, New CD

Photos in this section taken at the  Breaux Bridge in 2005
Crawfish Festival in 2005. Click on thumbnails to see larger version.

Go to Zydeco Joe's Official Web Site.

The 2006 release of Black Cat by Zydeco Joe and the Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulez Band is great news for all fans of hard-driving old style zydeco from the country. Zydeco Joe's music tells stories in Creole French and in English drawn from his own experience and imagination, propelled along by his boundless energy and a pulsating zydeco beat.

According to the liner notes, the title cut, "Black Cat," was inspired by a black cat who would visit the Mouton home when they were zydecoing on the lawn (the song also refers to a woman who is dancing like a black cat). "You Can't Rooster Like You Used To," with a memorable rhyming come-back for a friend who tries to steal his woman, has received considerable radio airplay. The opening song, "Caroline Riding in the Buggy," tells a story in Creole French of a visit to the country and the good times at Caroline's place. "They Tried to Steal My Chicken" switches between French and English to tell the story of a chicken thief scared off by a dog. Also on the CD are "Jack Rabbit Zydeco," "Poppa Jack," which tells a zydeco story in English, and "Why Can't We Get Together," a slower, more mellow song with a clear message.

Other members of the band are Classie Ballou on bass guitar; Cornelius Guidry on guitar; Joseph Edwards on scrubboard; and Kevin Menard on drums.

According to the liner notes, for booking information go to, 337-433-6432 or 277-5768 or email

Posted 7-31-06


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If you go to a Zydeco festival around Lafayette, you may very well see Zydeco Joe Mouton, even if he's not on the program. He'll be there to listen to the music, to dance, and, if there's an opportunity, to perform a number with whatever band is on the stage. Given the chance, he can improvise lyrics in Creole French about almost anything, accompanying himself with the accordion with rhythmical notes to match his words, which he sometimes then repeats in English.

Born Joseph Adam Mouton in Lafayette on October 25, 1943, he was "raised up in Carencro" (as he sings in one of his songs), living on a farm growing cotton, corn, and potatoes. At the age of 13, he borrowed a Sears Silverstone guitar and learned how to play. For a while he performed with Rockin' Dopsie's band, but then decided to give up music.

According to the liner notes to Zydeco Joe's CD, Jack Rabbit, he learned to play the accordion when he was 45 after a close friend, Robley Hebert, died in a car accident. Robley's mom gave Zydeco Joe the accordion that her son had been trying to learn to play. He was reluctant to accept it, but finally agreed. An old friend, the late Dudley Broussard (his wife's uncle), helped him learn to play, and in 1988 Zydeco Joe formed his own band.

In one of his most popular songs, "Mama Fred's Back Yard" (he once said in an interview that Mama Fred refers to his mother-in-law), he celebrates the way in which Zydeco brings everyone together–people from all races and backgrounds, in sharp contrast to the segregation that he remembers as part of his childhood. As he explained to Laura Haymark in an article published June 21, 1999, in the Baton Rouge Advocate, everyone mixes together at Zydeco dances: People "tell me it must be something about the music: it just makes people forget about hatred...I'm glad it came about. It took 600 years before it finally did."

He also told Haymark that he plays both Zydeco and Cajun songs, as well as the blues: "I'm a zydeco player, but I play for people.   I watch my crowd because I don't play for a certain race. I'm very proud to do that, and they enjoy it."

Or, as he says in the notes to his CD, "I play my music from the heart. You can say it's back porch jam high energy Zydeco music that pulls people together for a good time."

Once you hear and see the intensity of Zydeco Joe's performance, you will quickly understand that when he says he plays from the heart he really means it.

Like many people his age in Southwest Louisiana, he was once punished in school for speaking the French language that he learned from his grandmother, who raised him and who did not understand English. Today, he says, "I'm so proud I speak French and can communicate with people all over."`

Zydeco Joe originally released a self-produced CD, which quickly became hard to find. Meanwhile, songs like "Jack Rabbit" and "Mama Fred" continued to receive extensive air play on programs like KRVS's "Zydeco Est Pas Salé," KVPI's "Front Porch Zydeco," and Ed Poullard's Sunday evening zydeco show on KEUN. Eventually, Floyd Soileau's Maison de Soul label released the CD in 2001 as Jack Rabbit, making it available worldwide.

The title song of the CD refers to a nickname that Zydeco Joe acquired because he could run so fast. Except for Clifton Chenier's "I'm a Hog for You," all of the songs on the CD were written by Zydeco Joe, typically either based on his own experiences as in "Creole Life" or on  the joys of Zydeco as in "Zydeceoin' Everywhere."

Musicians on the CD are Debra Kennedy, guitar; Junius Antoine, bass; T-Don Landry, scrubboard; Johnny Batiste, drums.

Zydeco Joe can be contacted by phone at (337) 277-5768 or (337) 277-9899 (voice mail #552).

All of the photos in the column above were taken at the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival in May 2002. The photo at right was taken circa 1997 at the Folklife Festival in Eunice. The photo of Zydeco Joe's band below at the Crawfish Festival includes, among others, Debra Kennedy on lead guitar and Classie Ballou on bass.

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The final photo shows Zydeco Joe on rubboard in 2000 when the Cajun band Balfa Toujours invited him on stage at Festivals Acadiens while they were performing "Bernadette." Zydeco Joe also played with BeauSoleil earlier in the day. The next Saturday, he was on KRVS's "Zydeco Est Pas Salé" radio show, improvising a song describing the experience and thanking both bands for allowing him to perform with them.
The photo at right and the two photos below were taken during Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette September 21, 2002.

Zydeco Joe not only gave a great performance, improvising in Creole French and revving up his accordion for a festival crowd.  He also stayed around for the rest of the festival.

He was in the crowd on both days of the festival, listening to the other performers and enjoying their music.

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Updated 1-5-03

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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