Including - recommended listening, playing Cajun & Zydeco, Radio Stations, further reading, recipes, the Cajun & Zydeco Story, What is Zydeco?
Chris Hall's recommendations!
I guess the two most common questions I get asked at gigs are, 'What cajun/zydeco recordings do you listen to most?' and 'Are there any good guides on how to play Cajun or Zydeco music?'
To answer the first of these questions, what I'm listening to most varies but at the moment it's:
01. Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys : Bon Reve
02. Cajun and Creole Music Vol1 and 11. Rounder Records
03. Balfa Brothers. New York Concerts
04. Clifton Chenier: Everything!
05. Whatever is on the top of the pile!
Guides to Playing Cajun and Zydeco music
In answer to the second question, the best Cajun accordion guide that I've come across is by Dirk Powell. It's a two video instructional set and I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants to get off to a flying start on the accordion. I only wish it had been around when I started trying to learn 20 years ago! I haven't come across anything for Zydeco accordion yet but no doubt something will turn up in time - if you know of anything, let me know! For fiddle players there's a good instructional album plus notes put together by Tracey Schwartz and Dewey Balfa which is the best source I've come across. For drummers, guitar players, percussion etc. it's a case of listen to as many examples as you can and pick out the best and clearest. Marc savoy has done an accordion video. a lot of people say the fisrt one is too advanced but the second one is cool. It slows things down and keeps everything in key and in pitch... its cool!
My favourite Louisiana radio station has to be KBON. They can be found at www.kbon.com. Get onto their website, click the listen now icon and you'll get live music direct from Louisiana. It's a great way to spend any day of the week and with all the adverts and chat in between it's the next best thing to being in Cajun country, sipping a cold beer and deciding which band to check out that night! Other radio stations can be found at www.cajunradio.org.
Recommended reading? Well, THE magazine in the UK used to be The Cajun Users Manual. Then there was Cajun Life And Times which is now no more.
My favourite read for background on Cajun is "South to Louisiana" by John Broven. Or for Zydeco, "The Kingdom of Zydeco" by Michael Tisserand. I'd also recommend Ann Savoy's great book "Cajun Music Vol. 1" - songs, stories about key musicians, interviews, terrific pictures and even stuff about learning to play. A definitive read. If it's photos you are interested in, then check out "Cajun Music & Zydeco" by Philip Gould - chock full of excellent colour compositions, or "Memories Vol. 1" by Johnnie Allan for some great archive black and white shots from the 1920's to the 80's. For a broader cultural approach, with more of a social-anthropology feel, "Folklife in Louisiana Photography" by Frank de Caro is superb.
I'd also recommended "The Makers of Cajun Music" by Barry Ancelet and Elemore Morgan - great background on key musicians, illustrated with excellent colour shots.