Is it Cajun or Zydeco? That’s the most common
question folks ask when they hear Louisiana music. Well,
Cajun music is the “folk music” of the Acadian people
exiled from Canada who settled mostly in southern
Louisiana. It will usually have fiddles along with an
accordion, and guitars. Modern Cajun music has borrowed
some from County and Western.
Zydeco is the music of “Creoles of Color”
in south Louisiana. Like the Cajuns, the early Zydeco music
comes from people who spoke French but Creole French rather than
the Cajun dialect. The main instruments are also accordion, and
guitars but there won’t be a fiddle and there will be a rubboard
or frottoir made of corrugated metal worn like a vest and rubbed
(originally just an old fashioned washboard was used) and drums
which will not be in Cajun bands. Zydeco has elements of Rhythm
and Blues and Pop.
If you visit Creole Nature Trail
Adventure Point, a brand new facility that opened in
March of 2015 and features interactive displays and
colorful dioramas. One exhibit explains Zydeco and Cajun music.
You can experiment with the different instruments as some of our
group are doing in the photo below. Plus you have the bonus of
enjoying up-close views of bayous and marshes and smell the
mouth-watering aromas of Cajun cooking.
Both Cajun and Zydeco borrow heavily from one
another and both share some similar culture so both music styles
are fun. The custom of the old fashioned dance hall still is
alive in Louisiana and some of the clubs I visited recently
offer one or both of this typical Louisiana music. Unlike
typical nightclubs, the dancers range from children to seniors.
Everybody is having fun in a family friendly environment.
Both forms of music are part of everyday life in Acadiana. On a
recent visit to Lake Charles for Mardi Gras, we enjoyed the
music of The Crowley Playboys while waiting for the parade. As
you can see in the image below, these "boys" really put their
hearts into their traditional Cajun music.
Randol’s is located in Lafayette. Considered the heart of
Acadiana, Lafayette is known for its Cajun food and music.
Lafayette was recently voted “The Happiest City in America.”
Jessie Guidry, Vice President of Communications at Lafayette
Convention and Visitors Bureau, had this to say about his city.
“Live music is at the heart of what we do. It’s who we
are and what we love.”
Randol’s certainly exemplifies all of these
qualities. Frank Beaulieu
Randol opened Randol’s Resturant and Cajun Dancehall in
1979 on the land that was once his family’s plantation.
The food is great, crawfish, fried alligator, deep fried
soft shell crabs, gumbo, etoufee and their own special BBQ
crabs. The dance floor is roomy with the band ensconced on a
stage to the rear. The décor is rustic, corrugated tin blended
with exposed wood beams and a hardwood floor that shows the
patina of many feet dancing on it over the years. Art is
primitive Cajun and Creole paintings in simple wooden frames
enlivened with occasional touches of whimsy like the Mardi Gras
parasols displayed over the bandstand. The solid wood tables are
covered with practical red and white checkered oilcloth
is fun and family place; kids are welcome and can enjoy
themselves here without worrying about fancy linens.
Bayou Delight is the place to visit in Houma for a
toe-tapping, two-stepping good time. They have a great menu
filled with Cajun dishes but on Friday and Saturdays, it’s the
music that will draw in the crowds.
There are three
different musicians that you will find there. We arrived early
on a Friday and had reservations for an upfront table.
Reservations are a good idea on those nights. The place was
already almost full when we arrived even though the music had
not started yet.
Larry White, was playing that night.
He is a one-man-band
that turns out some very danceable Cajun songs like Jolie Blanc
and My Toot Toot. He describes Bayou Delight as "Houma's best
known little secret."
All ages are welcome here too. That seems
to be a staple of the Cajun dancehalls. We watched one father
with two little boys. The kids were checking out the dance floor
before the music even started. Once Mr. White got into full
swing, everybody got into the act.
One older couple were
really fun to watch. She was very Cajun with a delightful accent
and he was a tall Texan both well into their eighties but they
moved across that dance floor like a couple of kids. They love
Bayou Delight and told us "We come every Friday night."
The next club I visited,
Blue Moon Saloon. It
was much more rustic and had a hard rocking Zydeco band the
night we were there. This place is unique. It features many
different kinds of music and is strictly a dance hall not a
family restaurant. It is located in the yard and on the back
porch of a guesthouse in Lafayette and I doubt the guest do much
sleeping Wednesday through Saturday nights. The joint was really
jumping. When you walked in you just could not keep still. That
music really got to your soul and made you move your feet.
It opened in April of 2002 and had been a
raging success ever since. In spite of its humble appearance,
it has been named in the Top 100 Bars by Southern Living
and Best Place to Experience Live Music Downtown
by the Downtown Lafayette Association who also voted Blue
Moon Guest House the Best Place to Stay Downtown in 2013. This
place rally swings.
Next time you visit Acadiana, search out
those special places that help keep the soul of Louisiana music
alive. No matter if its Cajun or Zydeco, you will love it.
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