The United States Library of Congress is the de facto national library of America.  Its National Recording Preservation Board annually selects musical and spoken recordings of importance to add to its National Recording Registry.  This year they’ve chosen recordings as diverse of Clarence Williams, Mahler, Julie London, and John Coltrane.  Among them is the wonderful 1976 Clifton Chenier release, Bogalusa Boogie.  This year is the 40th anniversary of this amazing session, recorded in a single day in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Clifton left us many years ago, but his recordings live on!


The Arhoolie Foundation has posted audio and transcripts of three interviews with Clifton Chenier, Eddie Shuler, and Moise Robin.  Chenier is the towering giant of zydeco music.  Shuler is the mastermind behind Lake Charles, La.-based Goldband Records, and Robin recorded several important tracks before the Cajun renaissance of the 1960s.

Yes, Clifton Chenier won his own Grammy award for his Alligator Records recording I’m Here in 1983.  He will receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2014.  Other Special Merit Awards will go to the Beatles, Kraftwerk, the Isley Brothers, and Kris Kristofferson.  Grammy Awards sitePress Release.  Chenier died in 1987.

Here is the late, great Clifton Chenier playing Bon ton roulet, a song recorded in the 1950s by Clarence ‘Bon Ton’ Garlow.  This must be quite close to the end of Clifton’s life, Dec. 12, 1987.  He’s sitting down, as he did in the last year or two, and his playing and singing don’t have their usual energy.  He does get revved up at about 2:10, and carries the tune well on accordion.  That’s his son C. J. Chenier with the introduction and playing saxophone.  The person who posted the video identifies Clifton’s brother Cleveland Chenier on rubboard and Harry Hypolite on guitar.  Don’t recognize the bass player and drummer.  Looks like a television appearance, but there’s no additional info.  Fait attention!

Though it’s best known for some of the rawest, most smokin’ blues around, Chicago-based Alligator Records has put out recordings by Clifton Chenier (1983 Grammy Award winner I’m here, 1982) and his son C. J. Chenier (Too much fun, 1995, and The big squeeze, 1996).  And it’s their 40th anniversary!  Congratulations to Bruce Iglauer, founder, and all their staff and artists!

Here’s the late, great Clifton Chenier and band performing his original song I’m comin’ home.  The song originally appeared on his recording King of the Bayous (Arhoolie 339, 1992).  This clip comes from the Les Blank film Hot Pepper.  Blank has made several fine films about south Louisiana music and culture.  Chenier also performs the song live on the recording Live! At the Long Beach and San Francisco Blues Festivals (Arhoolie  CD 404, 1993).  It’s a slow and mournful blues, sung in English, about returning home.  It was played at Chenier’s funeral.  The meaning is strong for anyone who has ever left home for any reason and decided to go home.  Though I prefer videos of performances, this one starts with Clifton and band, then goes on to show the world from which he came.  Beautiful and poignant. 

The late, the great Clifton Chenier, live and on stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival playing Cochon pour toi (or I’m a hog for you).  Looks like the late 1970s, but not 1975.  Here’s a photo of him from 1975. But the small stage, the crowd, and the shot of the grandstand in the background, definitely harkens to that era.  And Buckwheat Zydeco (Stanley Dural) is playing organ.  That’s probably Blind John Hart on saxophone.   What a compliment to pay a woman, “I’m a hog for you!”