general


One of Cajun music’s great writers and performers, 85-year-old D. L. Menard, has passed away.   Menard was often called “the Cajun Hank Williams,” because of his well-written songs with catchy melodies and partly because of his meeting with Williams.  Menard had a warm voice and a percussive guitar style, often copied.  His song “The Back Door” (“La porte d’en arrière”) was one of Rolling Stones’ 100 Best Country Songs of all Time.  KLFY-TV Lafayette coverage. He was a favorite at music festivals, mostly playing with the Jambalaya Cajun Band in the last decade.

Selected discography:

D. L. Menard. Cajun memories. Swallow Records. SW 6125-2. 1995. CD.
D. L. Menard. No matter where you at, there you are. Rounder Records. C-6021. 1988. CS.
D. L. Menard. Sings The Back Door and other Cajun hits. Swallow Records. LP-6038. 1980. 33.
D. L. Menard. Happy Go Lucky. Swallow Records SW6219. 2010. CD.
Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D. L. Menard. En bas d’un chêne vert. Arhoolie Productions, Inc.. CD 312. 1976 & 1989. CD.
Marc Savoy with Dewey Balfa & D. L. Menard. Made in Louisiana. Voyager Records. VCD 325. 1998. CD.
Eddie LeJeune, D.L. Menard, Ken Smith. Trio Cadien. Rounder Records. 6049. 1992. CD.

 

New Orleans’ WDSU-TV Channel 8 aired this short (2:58) video recently with background on the rubboard used so much in zyeco music.  It shows one being manufactured, in stop motion, by Tee-Don Landry.  Landry claims it was his father who made the first one for Clifton Chenier’s brother Cleveland to play in the band.  A transcription is included, if you’re having problems with Louisiana-accented English.

Accordionist and vocalist Belton Richard has passed away at age 77.  Richard was a popular musician whose major local hit was the song “Un autre soir ennuyant (Another Lonely Night) [originally released as “Autre soir d’ennui (Another lonely evening)”].”  His band was known as the Musical Aces.  Richard quit active performing for a while but returned to it in the 2000s.  His songs have been covered by many Cajun musicians and are considered classics in the genre.  Swallow Records released many of his tracks as 45s, but they are found on these LPs:

Belton Richard. At his best. Swallow Records. LP 6043. 1981. 33.
Belton Richard. Good n’ Cajun. Swallow Records. LP-6021. n.d.. 33.
Belton Richard. Modern sounds of Cajun music. Swallow Records. LP-6010. n.d.. 33.
Belton Richard and the Musical Aces. Louisiana Cajun music. Swallow Records. LP-6032. 1978. 33.
Belton Richard and the Musical Aces. Modern sounds of Cajun music volume two. Swallow Records. LP-6013. n.d.. 33.

His CDs include:

Belton Richard. Essential Belton Richard. Swallow Records. SW 6117-2. 1994. CD.
Belton Richard. I’m back! Swallow Records. 6135. 1996. CD.
Belton Richard. Modern sounds in Cajun music. Ace Records. CDCHD 378. unk.. CD.

There’s an exhibit of photography of Louisiana zydeco trailrides currently on at Columbus State University in Georgia.  The photographer says that trailrides go back to “the 17th century,” which seems rather early.  Still interesting reading.  The photographer lives in Baton Rouge.

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.”

Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural, Jr. has passed away in Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.  Buckwheat had a history of cancer since 2013, and was thought to be cancer-free, but it returned recently.  It is hard to overestimate the importance of Buckwheat to zydeco music.  He started as Clifton Chenier’s keyboard player, went out on his own on accordion, and has recorded a massive catalog over the last 40 years.  Our sincerest condolences to family, friends, and colleagues.

The flooding in southern Louisiana is well known to everyone by now, and it has affected many, including Buckwheat Zydeco.  To make matters even more difficult, his cancer has returned (warning: Advertiser page).  There are currently two GoFundMe appeals currently available to contribute:  In Support of Buckwheat Zydeco created by Cynthia Simien and Buckwheat Zydeco and Family (created by “Tomorrow Dural”).  I am not endorsing either of these campaigns, but want to make others aware of them.

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