The (Cajun) Kids are Alright

Passing the baton to a younger generation has been difficult for polka, but Cajun music is having no such problem. Spinner writes about the current youth movement in Cajun/Creole music, noting the proliferation of young bands and musicians in the Lafayette (Louisiana) area. Some, like accordionist Kristi Guillory of Bonsoir, Catin, were drawn together through summertime Cajun French immersion programs held in Nova Scotia (home of their ancestors). Others, like accordionist Wilson Savoy of the Pine Leaf Boys, had to move away to realize the importance of their Cajun heritage.

The result is a new golden age of Cajun music, led by a tightly knit group of young musicians who gather regularly to jam, watch each other’s shows, and keep the traditions alive. Here’s a clip from one of those bands, the all-female Bonsoir, Catin:

Le Cajun Award Winners Announced

The Cajun Squeezebox Blog has a list of winners from last night’s Le Cajun Awards sponsored by the Cajun French Music Association. The Pine Leaf Boys won Band and Album of the Year, while Jason Frey was named Accordionist of the Year. Bonjour Louisiane host Pete Bergeron and accordionist Kevin Naquin nabbed Song of the Year honors for “Ma Petit Ange (My Little Angel).”

You can catch some of the winners, and plenty of other talented Cajun musicians, at the Le Cajun Music Festival this weekend in Lafayette, LA.

Quick Links: August 3, 2007

Today’s links share a Cajun theme…

  • Big Bayou Bandits: Fille De Houma
    Video clip of the Big Bayou Bandits, a fun Cajun band from Belgium (!) that melds Cajun, bluegrass, and rockabilly. (Found via Mister Anchovy)
  • Cajun/Creole Accordion Builders
    A project from the creator of the Cajun Squeezebox Blog — a list of Cajun accordion builders both past and present, with contact information.
  • Zydeco Vets Host Grammy Awards 101
    The Memphis chapter of the Recording Academy (including Terrance and Cynthia Simien) is holding a presentation in Vermilionville, LA for artists interested in joining the Academy and participating in the Grammy voting process. The event isn’t limited to Cajun/Zydeco, but I imagine anyone interested in the new Cajun/Zydeco Grammy category will want to attend.

Le Cajun Music Award Nominees

The first-ever nominees for the new Cajun/Zydeco Grammy are still a few months away, but the nominees for the Cajun French Music Association’s annual “Le Cajun” Music Awards were announced this week. The CFMA is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Cajun music and culture.

The Pine Leaf Boys lead the pack with six nominations (out of seven categories), including Band of the Year, Best CD of the Year, and the People’s Choice Award. Our favorite category — Accordionist of the Year — includes Kristi Guillory of the Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Wilson Savoy of the Pine Leaf Boys, and Jason Frey.

The 19th annual “Le Cajun” Music Awards will be held at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette, LA on August 17th, and will be followed by a two-day Cajun music festival at Blackham Coliseum featuring a number of award-winning Cajun artists.

[Found via the Cajun Squeezebox Blog]

Elly Kelly’s Acadian Dance Party

Elly Kelly: Yesterday’s DreamBorn into an Acadian family in St. Charles, New Brunswick, Elly Kelly started playing accordion at the age of 13 and was soon joining her mother, father, and brother onstage at square dances, jamborees and talent shows. After taking time off to raise three children, Elly has returned to music with a lively album of reels and waltzes called Yesterday’s Dream.

The album opens with a nod to her musical roots — a high-spirited clip recorded by her parents at her childhood home more than 25 years ago. From there, it’s nothing but foot-stompin’, feel-good music buoyed by Elly’s passionate accordion playing and complemented by June Eikhard’s fiddle work. This is a perfect summer evening party-on-the-porch record; the kind of down-home, old-time party music you enjoy while laughing and relaxing with friends.

Elly doesn’t currently have a website, but if you want to learn more or order her CD, you can email her at ellykellymusic at

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Lil’ Nathan Grows Up

Lil' NathanIt’s tough to follow in your father’s footsteps, but in the zydeco world, it’s practically a rite of passage. Zydeco is filled with families where the torch (or accordion) has been passed from father to son through the generations — families like the Ardoins, Broussards, Cheniers, and Delafoses, to name a few.

The Williams family is no different. Nathan Williams Jr. grew up in the shadow of his father, Nathan Sr., who leads Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. He started playing in his father’s band at age 5 and recorded his first album, Zydeco Ballin’ when he was just 14. Today, the 20-year-old junior at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has a new album out, Doin’ It Big Time and appears poised to emerge from his father’s shadow. Those are big shoes to fill, but in a zydeco family, it’s just part of growing up.

Cajun/Zydeco Grammy Becomes Reality!

After a six-year campaign by Cajun/Zydeco musicians and fans — spearheaded by Terrance and Cynthia Simien — the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has announced that next year’s Grammy Awards will (finally!) include a separate category for Cajun/Zydeco music.

This is huge news; until now, Cajun/Zydeco artists have been lumped into the folk category, competing with Dylan and Springsteen. Even then, four Cajun/Zydeco musicians have won Grammys: Queen Ida in 1982, Clifton Chenier in 1983, Rockin’ Sidney in 1985 and BeauSoleil in 1997. With the recent influx of young, talented Cajun musicians, this should be a great showcase for Cajun/Zydeco music (and a competitive category) for years to come.

Cajun Squeezebox Blog Launches

Bird's Eye Martin Accordion in CThe accordion blog scene keeps growing! The latest addition is the Cajun Squeezebox Blog. Written by a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, it focuses on Cajun accordion news and events, as well as occasional tablatures (notes and lyrics) so you can play along at home. Last week, they featured the “The Convict Waltz” (or “La Valse de Quatre-Vingt Dix-Neuf Ans”) which was popularized by the late Cajun accordion legend, Iry LeJeune.

This Week in Accordion: KEDA Conjunto Fest

What’s on the accordion calendar this week?

A note to our friends north of the border: our calendar (finally) supports Canadian events! So whether it’s a polka dance in Medicine Hat or a musette revival in Montreal, let us know what’s going on in your area.

And don’t forget, Monday is the last day to enter our birthday contest. Post a comment to receive free Let’s Polka stickers and maybe even an accordion book or polka DVD. Everyone’s a winner!

Is a Cajun Music Revival Brewing?

“Cajun Sound, Rock ‘n’ Roll Energy” is an excellent article from Sunday’s New York Times on the resurgence of Cajun music among young musicians and dancers in Louisiana. Up-and-coming Lafayette bands like the Pine Leaf Boys, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Red Stick Ramblers, have been electrifying the local dance floors with a fresh approach to traditional Cajun music:

“‘I want to document what’s going on here,’ Joel Savoy, 26, said, ‘because it’s exciting to see all these young kids playing this weird traditional music with accordions and fiddles and to have all these young kids eating it up like it’s the coolest thing ever.'”

The article centers on the Savoy family, particularly the role that Marc and Ann Savoy played in passing the music down to their children. Marc is a master button accordion maker and musician, while Ann was nominated for a Grammy last year for her Zozo Sisters project with Linda Ronstadt. Raised around Cajun music legends, it’s no surprise that their children — Wilson plays accordion, Joel plays fiddle — have become leaders of the new Cajun scene.

There’s also a brief discussion of the difference between Cajun and zydeco — a distinction that, admittedly, we don’t often make on our site. If you’re curious, the Rochester Cajun Zydeco Network has a great overview of the origins and differences between the two styles.

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