Searching for Clifton Chenier

The structure of Todd Mouton’s book Way Down in Louisiana tells you what you need to know. The book is subtitled “Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop Music,” and if you look at the book from the side you see a thick series of red pages in the middle. That is Mouton’s biography of Clifton Chenier, and as the rest of the book shows, Chenier is at the heart of music from South Louisiana, just as he is at the heart of the book.

Jazz Fest: The Revelers Are Looking for a Hybrid

In Lafayette, the audience for a Cajun/zydeco dance is a social event, not a way to work off the stubborn final five pounds. Around the country, a subculture of zydecougars doing “zyderobics”—as The Revelers’ guitarist Chas Justus puts it—has developed that supports the band as well as many bands from southwest Louisiana, but they do so by turning dances into workouts. 

From the Drawing Rooms to the Rice Fields

The music business has its ways of directing people down more fitting paths. Joshua Caffery remembers a reality check moment from his days with The Red Stick Ramblers, when they played a sold-out CD-release show at Grant Street Dance Hall in Lafayette, then performed to two friends the next night at the Hi-Ho Lounge here in New Orleans. A marriage and a Masters Degree gave him an occasion to reconsider if the touring band life was for him, and he decided no.