A Zydeco Primer


Zydeco is not to be confused with Cajun music, though they share significant common heritage.  For Zydeco, think less waltzes and fiddles and pedal steel, more driving backbeat and syncopation and R&B influence, usually incorporating electric guitar and electric bass, sometimes sax and other instruments not seen in traditional Cajun music; think less “white country folk” more “funky R&B dance”.  Zydeco is black Creole dance music from Southwest Louisiana, and Zydeco is also the name of the dance itself – done right, this ain’t no waltz, baby, it is high energy, sweaty, syncopated & athletic.   Zydeco has never attracted a wide audience outside the tiny dance halls of southwest Louisiana where it originated and evolved, because it’s not music created to listen to on the radio or on CDs or even (dare I say it) on a big outdoor stage -- this is not spectator or background music; it is music to get up and dance to in a sweaty packed nightclub until 2 or 3 a.m. There’s a reason zydeco is a verb as well as a noun.  It can sound raw and unpolished and repetitive at the outset (if you think about it, repeating rhythms are crucial if you’re going to sync with the beat and dance – are you getting the theme here?).  To experience zydeco fully and grasp its subtleties and nuances, catch one of the zydeco shows at the Rock N Bowl, let your feet move, and get lost in the groove – you may not understand it at first, but after an hour or two on the dance floor, you’ll get it.


Copyright © 2014 Allen R. Grogan. All rights reserved