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Cajun Music and Zydeco
     

Cajun Music and Zydeco

by Philip Gould
 

"Imagine," writes Philip Gould, "a remote club nestled in a rural community that is barely on the map, where upon entering through worn screen doors one feels the flow of air from the wall-sized floor fans working hard to relieve the sultriness. Folks of all ages glide across a worn wooden dance floor as a Cajun or zydeco band belts out spirited two-steps and

Overview

"Imagine," writes Philip Gould, "a remote club nestled in a rural community that is barely on the map, where upon entering through worn screen doors one feels the flow of air from the wall-sized floor fans working hard to relieve the sultriness. Folks of all ages glide across a worn wooden dance floor as a Cajun or zydeco band belts out spirited two-steps and waltzes..." In this engaging book Gould takes us into the fascinating world of south Louisiana's celebrated musical cultures. Cajun Music and Zydeco contains more than one hundred color photographs of the performers, dance halls, and appreciative fans that have made the state's indigenous music a national, even worldwide, phenomenon.

The photographs span a period of some ten years. They include portraits of Cajun musicians like Zachary Richard, Dewey Balfa, Wayne Toups, Michael Doucet, and Steve Riley and such zydeco performers as Terrance Simien, the Ardoin family, Canray Fontenot, Boozoo Chavis, and the legendary Clifton Chenier. Gould photographs many of the venues in which these musicians have performed, including El Sid O's Club and Hamilton's Place, in Lafayette; La Poussiere and Mulate's, in Breaux Bridge; Smiley's Bayou Club, in Erath; Slim's Y Ki Ki, in Opelousas; and Tipitina's, in New Orleans — not to mention Carnegie Hall. He also shows throngs of music lovers at annual events such as the Zydeco Festival in Plaisance and Lafayette's Festival International de Louisiane. Many of the images reinforce the importance of family and community among the musicians, and others emphasize the sheer power the music holds over performers and listeners alike.

Philip Gould first came to Louisiana in 1974, just as the revival of Cajun music and zydeco was beginning to take shape. Indeed, one of his early assignments as a photographer for the Daily Iberian newspaper was to cover the first Tribute to Cajun Music, which was held in Lafayette on March 26, 1974. A driving force behind that magical event was Barry Jean Ancelet, whose informed Introduction to this book provides a brief history of Cajun music and zydeco. Ancelet describes the multivarious ethnic mix that contributed to the development of the two musics, outlines their waning popularity during the early years of this century, and celebrates their reenergized vitality since the mid-1970s. He provides a vivid description of the 1974 festival, which unexpectedly attracted more than twelve thousand spectators. It proved to be a watershed in the renaissance not only of Cajun music and zydeco but of Cajun and Creole culture in general.

Deeply rooted in the unique world of south Louisiana, Cajun music and zydeco are an important part of the American folk tradition. This beautiful book is a fitting tribute to their enduring appeal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Over the past two decades, the traditional music of French-speaking Louisianans has undergone an exciting renaissance, sparked by the first Tribute to Cajun Music in Lafayette, La., in 1974. Photographer Gould, then just 22, covered the event for a small-town newspaper and has been taking pictures of cajun and zydeco acolytes ever since. Ancelet, a folklorist who organized the 1974 tribute, provides a succinct introduction explaining the music's roots: the lilting, keening Cajun music comes from the white descendants of French Canadians who migrated to the Louisiana bayous in the 18th century, while the more percussive, ``party-down'' sound of zydeco grows out of the black Creole culture of French-speaking African-Americans. Gordon's 108 striking color photographs include vibrant portraits of such stars as Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis, Nathan Abshire and Zachary Richard, as well as pictures of the audiences and the often shabby concert venues that affectionately capture the culture's sweaty, down-home, good-time atmosphere. A nice introduction to this delightful folk music, and a treat for fans. ( Sept. )
Ray Olson
Two reasons why the accordion has gone from being one of the squarest to one of the hippest musical instruments constitute the title of this big, lovely, hot, and soulful photo album. Gould started taking pictures of Louisiana's white and black French musicians (the whites' music's called Cajun; the blacks', zydeco) practically the moment he arrived in New Iberia in 1974. One of his first assignments as a newspaper photographer sent him to the first Tribute to Cajun Music. There he met Barry Jean Ancelet, who had rediscovered his musical heritage when, as a homesick grad student, he heard it with new ears in Paris (France, not Texas). Ancelet contributes a marvelous essay about that first Tribute and the whole Louisiana French renaissance it helped launch as an introduction to 107 of Gould's color photos, each one more magnificent than the last. The musicians, their families and homes, the listeners and dancers, the festivals and the dance clubs, even fiddle, accordion, and "frottoir" (that's essentially a washboard bib) makers' shops--Gould shows them all to maximum sensual effect in bold, colorful, often kinetic images that darn near dance off the pages. (Add 10 bucks to the cost above, and you'll get a CD sampler of Cajun and zydeco compiled and annotated by Ancelet.)
Booknews
Gould takes us into the fascinating world of south Louisiana's celebrated musical cultures. Contains more than one hundred color photographs of the performers, dance halls, and fans. Includes a compact disc. 10.5x12.5" Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807117699
Publisher:
Louisiana State University Press
Publication date:
09/28/1992
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
928,855
Product dimensions:
10.25(w) x 12.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Gould is a freelance documentary/architecture photographer born in Massachusetts and raised in California's Bay Area who has made Louisiana his home and favorite subject since 1974. His photographs have been published in over a dozen books as well as periodicals from around the world.

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