Lousiana - Thibodaux Cajun Music

by Kimp 2. April 2013 03:38
Photo Blog
 
Cajun Music:
A number of years ago (about a zillion) , I attended the Kentucky Blue Grass Festival in Lexington Kentucky. Where I was introduced to Cajun music, by an awesome Cajun band that played a set there. I remember really liking it at that time. The main instrument was an accordion and it was all uptempo dance music with a unique rhythm. I didn't know it at the time, but the Cajun music I had heard in Kentucky, was influenced by the Louisiana Prairie Cajun people as apposed to the Louisiana Bayou people.
 
I was trying to figure out how Sam and I could see some Cajun music without going into a bar and I happened to find a Cajun Music Jam session that takes place every Monday in one of the small towns, that was the pioneer of the real Cajun music that came out of the bayou's.
 
Tribodauxville:
is a small village that was at the intersection of two main Bayous - Bayou Lafourche and Bayou Terrebone. Bayou Lafourche was a major canal used for shipping Sugar Cane from the plantations in Louisiana and there were high banks in the area. That made it an idea place for a small town that supported the sugar industry. Cajun bayou people would converge on Tribodauxville to partake in song and to get their dance on. 
 
Cajun Religion:
Since most Cajun's derive from France and Spanish influences, the main religion is Catholic. However, since Cajun's are now a mixture of many ethnicity's, likewise there is also a mixture of religions.
 

Bayou Cajun Music:

In Bayou Cajun, the primary instrument is Fiddle, Guitar or Steel Guitar (in Prairie it's always the accordion).  In Bayou Cajun, Waltz's and two steps are in 2/4 time and are slower then their Prairie Cajun 6/8 cousins are.
It's a blend of French and Irish folk styles with Latin Rhythms and sounds a lot like American Country music sung in French.
Here is an example of Cajun Bayou Music.
 
Cajun Prairie Music:
is popular in Eunice Louisiana (northern Louisiana which will be on another future album) and it is like no other music. It may have been influenced by German immigrant's since all original players used German accordions. Later, when they could not get parts for their German accordions, they took them apart, studied them, and started making their own authentic Cajun accordions.
These are some dudes from Belgium who are playing a standard Cajun prairie song.
 
 
Zydeco:
is my personal favorite.
It's is a fusion of Cajun Prairie with Rhythm and Blues. The dances often look like soulful versions of a 1950's sock hop.
I call Zydeco (Cajun Soul Music) and here is a good rendition of Zydeco with a dance (Starts at about 20 seconds in, but also check out the dudes handkerchief at about 3:30, that's a touch of Cajun class):
Zydeco is very popular in Lafayette Louisiana (the Cajun Capital which will be on another future album).
 
There were a number of French people who migrated to Nova Scotia (Northeast of Maine). The British invaded Canada, took control and exiled all of the French. The French were alienated from France and they didn't want to go back to France, so they moved to Louisiana which was mostly inhabited by French people, but was governed by the Spanish, at that time.
 
The derivation of the Cajun name:
The French renaissance (1700's) idolized a place in Greece, which they knew by the name of L'Arcadie. Ancient poetry, like Virgil's Eclogues described Arcadia (English name for L'Arcadie) as a place populated by primitive and idyllic shepherds, living in harmony with nature. Subsequently, Arcadia has remained the symbol of a golden age, a world where pastoral laughing are the main musical entertainment.
When the French colonized Nova Scotia they created a city by the name of L'Acadie (kind of like a new
L'Arcadie)
Acadien was a person from L'Acadie.
Cadien was a person from Lousiana, who had decended from the Acadien's whom immigrated into Louisiana in 1765 when the British exiled them, but whom developed their own French dialect. The reason the dialect changed was because there were a lot of ethnicity's involved (French, Spanish, American and African) in addition to the Acadien immigrants.
Cajun is the English name for a Cadien.
 
The Acadien immigration was very difficult. There was a Spanish Governor in Louisiana and he did not like the Acadien's.  It took 10 years for them to be accepted and they went through, poverty, slavery, and imprisonment during that time. They could relate with the African slaves. That's why they took to the swamp land. They just wanted to be left in peace.
 
Cajun Jam:
Since this was an open jam session from a small town, I was expecting it to be pretty good but different. Like most Jam sessions, the instrumentation was varied from the norm. Often times there is someone at a jam session, who is in the process of learning, and might not be up to par with the rest of the group.
 
This one was a little on the rough side. The fiddle player was pretty good and he had a nice voice that was in tune. After that tuning skills went progressively down hill, all of the way to what appeared to me to be the most out of tune player. Many Cajun bands have someone playing a resonator guitar (Dobro) that they sometimes flip horizontally and play in a steel guitar fashion. This one, had an actual steel guitar player. Someone proudly said that this steel guitar player had been playing for 60 years. I was wondering in what year he went completely deaf, but didn't ask. Besides being way out of tune, I'm not even sure he was playing the same song, in the same key as everyone else. At times, the singers would break out into four part harmony. It kind of sounded like three hound dogs accompanying the lead singer. There were a few times, I'm pretty sure that my ears were bleeding.
 
The locals that were there, seemed to be digging it. Many were smiling, moving with the music and enjoying themselves. For me, this was a surreal experience.
 
A few months ago, Joe Walsh (Rocky Mountain Way, Life's been good to me) was telling a story about when he first started performing in public. It went something like this: Dude when I first started playing, I really sucked and I was considering giving up the dream of becoming a musician. Then something magical happened. There was this group called the Beatles, who came out with a whole bunch of songs that people loved. After that, all I had to do was play a set of Beatles songs and everybody loved me. they didn't even care at all, that I sucked. And when I got Beatle boots, wohoo, I was really something.  It took me a really long time to get good. Most of the time, I wasn't getting good, I was just bringing awful up a notch at a time.
 
This looked like to me, it was along those same lines. The people were connecting with the emotions that they had about the song and not with the sounds that were coming from the band. Many years ago, they were having a blast with their friends and a certain song was popular. They are reliving that good time, once again in their life.
 
Another funny Joe Walsh story: Dude, I started out playing trombone, then switched to clarinet. One day I decided that I was never going to get any chicks playing clarinet, so I switched to guitar. I found out that I could figure out song's on a guitar. Oh, I never really got any chicks playing guitar either, but I was having a lot more fun, so I stayed with it.
 

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