biographical


The excellent documentary film “Dry Wood” can now be viewed online for free.  As the description says: “A glimpse into the life, food, and Mardi Gras celebrations of black Creoles in French Louisiana, featuring the stories and music of “Bois Sec” Ardoin and Canray Fontenot. Dry Wood is one of a number of Les Blank’s critically acclaimed films on Lousiana life and culture. Hot Pepper, a film on zydeco great Clifton Chenier, is a companion to Dry Wood. These films and many other important documentary films about American folklife are available on DVD at Les Blank’s Flower Films.”  It is for “Home streaming only.”

The name Barry Ancelet isn’t widely known, but it should be.  He has been a tireless promoter of Cajun, Creole and zydeco music, and an outstanding academic at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  After almost forty years, he is retiring from ULL, hopefully to continue his efforts, writing liner notes and announcing at the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles.  With his distinctive mustache, we wish him well, whatever he does!

Guitarist, violinist, writer and producer Al Berard died Wednesday, February 26, 2014 after an illness stretching back to December.  Wikipedia entryOffBeat article.  Berard was 53 years old.  Condolences to all her family and friends.

John Warren Prejean, Sr. died on Aug. 3, 2013 at ge 64.  His last regular post was lead vocalist and accordion player for the venerable Creole Zydeco Farmers.  The visitation and internment took place today in VIlle Platte, LA.  Deepest sympathies to his family and friends.  The Creole Zydeco Farmers are an underappreciated band outside of Louisiana, but a very fine group.

Violinist, singer and bandleader Allen Fontenot died on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at age 81.  He was a long-time part of the Cajun music scene in New Orleans, hosting the Cajun show on WWOZ-FM after Bruce Daigrepont’s departure.  He frequently played at the Cajun Bandstand, a club on Airline Highway in Kenner, Louisiana.  His performing schedule decreased in the last decade or so, perhaps due to age.  Brief biography on AllMusic.   Some recordings:

1. Allen Fontenot. Jole blon and other Cajun honky tonk songs. Great Southern Records. GS-11012. 1985. 33.
2. Allen Fontenot. Jole blon and other Cajun honky tonk songs. Great Southern Records. GS 11012. n.d.. CS.
3. Allen Fontenot. New Orleans Cajun love songs. Delta Records. DLP-1145. 1984. 33.
4. Allen Fontenot & Country Cajuns featuring Leroy Veillon & his accordion. Webb Pierce blues. Swallow Records. 45-1001. n.d.. 45.
5. Allen Fontenot & N.O. Country Cajuns. Come with me one more time. Swallow Records. 45-21001. n.d.. 45.
6. Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns. Cajun love song. Delta Records. DS 1934. 1984. 45.
7. Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns. Chere duloone. Blind Pig Records. none. 1990. 45.
8. Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns. Fais do do song. Nonc Joe. MMNP INJ127. 1978. 45.
9. Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns. Fais do do song. Nonc Joe. MMNP INJ127. 1978. 45.
10. Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns. My cheating heart won’t let me stay. Delta Records. 1933. 1984. 45.

Wonderful news!  The great zydeco accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco has been declared free of cancer!  And he continues his seemingly-interminable touring with dates all over the U.S. and Canada through at least August.

A champion of life at the margins and other oddities, Les Blank died on Monday, April 8, 2013.  Besides his films on garlic, beer and gap-toothed women, Blank made films about south Louisiana folklife.  His film Dry Wood is available online.  Blank attended Tulane University in New Orleans, perhaps where he learned about Cajun and Creole music.  In his later years he resided in California.  I spoke to him at the library convention booth where he was selling his films.  When I said I enjoyed his films, he asked “Which ones?”

Dry Wood (1973) is about Creole music and includes Alphonse “Bois Sec” (“Dry Wood”) Ardoin and Canray Fontenot.  J’ai Été Au Bal / I Went to the Dance (1989) covers the history of Cajun, Creole and zydeco music.  (Soundtrack CDs  volume 1 and volume 2 with listening online!) With involvement by Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records.   Marc and Ann Savoy are the subjects of Marc & Ann (1991).  Cajuns in general are the subject of Spend It All (1971) with Nathan Abshire and the Balfa Brothers.   Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking (1990) is about cooking.

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