L’Esprit Creole (Valcour Records, 2009)
Fiddler, accordionist, composer and vocalist Cedric Watson is the new sensation in southern Louisiana roots music. He was one of the founding members of the Pine Leaf Boys and now he has his own band called Bijou Creole where he has found a rich environment for expression.
When he started performing in southern Louisiana he caught the attention of the public and music professionals. “Everyone was saying, ‘Who in the hell is this kid?!’ Everyone was blown away,” recalls Lisa Stafford, the artistic director of the prestigious Festival International de Louisiane. “Even though he was not from here in Lafayette,” she continues, “everyone just really embraced him and he made an immediate home for himself here. I would see him dressed in overalls at local Cajun or Zydeco dances and when he would walk up to a girl to invite her to dance, he would bow. He was just like an old country soul.”
On his latest recording, L’Esprit Creole, Watson’s music combines the best of Creole music, influenced by French Creole music as well as African American roots music. His mentors include legendary Creole musicians such as the Ardoin family, Edward Poullard, Jeffrey Broussard, Goldman Thibodeaux, and James Adams. However, Cedric Watson goes beyond traditional Creole music. In addition to southern Louisiana genres such as Zydeco and Cajun, you can hear blues and country as well as Caribbean sounds like Jamaican reggae, Haitian kompa and Dominican merengue. There is even jazzy material that recalls Texas swing.
“I give a lot of freedom to the individual members of my group,” Watson explains, “Each brings his own musical and cultural influences to bear. So without much effort, we just naturally sound different than other Creole and Zydeco groups…We don’t have to go hip-hop or R&B, like a lot of Creole bands these days. We grab the Creole essence that is already there and emphasize it more.”
L’Esprit Creole is an extraordinary album by one of the most significant new artists in southern Louisiana’s Creole music.
Cedric Watson recordings available: