A Drunken Poet's Dream

Way Down in Louisiana: Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop Music

South Louisiana stew with a side of accordion

A Drunken Poet's Dream

South Louisiana's bayous and prairies are home to French-speaking Cajuns and black Creoles whose culture and accordion music remain utterly unique. Writer/producer Todd Mouton serves up a comprehensive, if somewhat dated, survey of the major figures in the scene over the past several decades. Although virtually all the segments were written 15-20 years ago with brief, up-to-date postscripts tagged on, his chapters on Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, Sonny Landreth, Beausoleil, Filé, Steve Riley, Zachary Richard, Lil' Buck Sinegal, and more cover the breadth of the state's native traditions. The centerpiece, literally, stacks up 100-plus pages on Clifton Chenier, who, along with his Red Hot Louisiana Band, brought deeply soulful, hard-rockin' zydeco from the bayou to Carnegie Hall and beyond. Blending traditional French accordion music with blues and R&B, Chenier (1925-87) forged an irresistible modern sound that birthed a renaissance in Louisiana music.

Way Down in Louisiana: Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop Music

by Todd Mouton
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 312 pp., $24.95 (paper)

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