Tag Archives: accordion

Cajun Accordion Master Belton Richard Dies at 77

Belton Richard

Louisiana accordionist and vocalist Belton Richard died on June 21, 2017. He was a well-known Cajun accordionist who recorded various hits.

Belton Richard was born on October 5, 1939 in Rayne, Louisiana. He formed the popular band The Musical Aces in 1959.

Belton Richard was inducted into the Cajun French Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2003, he was welcomed into the Acadian museum’s ‘Living Legends’ list. He also received the Cajun French Music Association’s ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ award in 2004.

His discography includes I’m Back! (Swallow Records, 1996), Belton Richard, Vol. 2 (Swallow Records, 2000), Good N’ Cajun (Swallow Records, 2000), Louisiana Cajun Music (Swallow Records, 2000), Older the Wine the Finer the Taste (Swallow Records, 2003), Live at Jazzfest 2016 (Munck Music, 2016).

Share

Artist Profiles: Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco’s powerful live shows were legendary for the fun and abandon they inspired. It was the first Zydeco band to land a major record label deal, the first to perform on a national television show, the first to have its music featured in major motion pictures, TV shows and national TV commercials, the first to record with top rock musicians and the first to introduce Zydeco to the music mainstream.

Leader, Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. was born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French, and by playing and dancing to Zydeco. This hybrid genre blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles’ white neighbors.

As the son of a Zydeco accordionist, Buckwheat grew up steeped in this culture, and also absorbed Lafayette’s ample outpouring of blues and Gulf Coast “swamp pop.” He began his professional career as an R&B sideman, playing keyboards for Joe Tex, Barbara Lynn and Gatemouth Brown. In 1971, Dural began leading his own R&B band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, playing the contemporary sounds of such popular bands as Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind &Fire. The group scored a regional hit with “It’s Hard to Get.”

By the mid-1970s, South Louisiana began to experience a grass-roots cultural renaissance as Zydeco and Cajun music, once scorned as overly ethnic, gained appreciation as treasured cultural resources. As the demand grew for Zydeco bands, Dural was offered a gig playing organ for the “King of Zydeco,” the late Clifton Chenier. Buck (as he was also known) worked hard and learned all that he could. After three years of touring, recording and accordion apprenticeship, he left in 1979 to lead his own group, Buckwheat Zydeco and the ils Sont Partis Band. Like Chenier, Buckwheat continued to blend traditional Creole Zydeco with the latest black-contemporary styles, drawing on all of his rich and varied musical experience.

Recording prolifically for various independent labels, Dural attracted the attention of music journalist Ted Fox, who became his manager and co-producer. In 1987, Fox arranged Buckwheat’s signing with Island Records, and he became the first Zydeco artist to appear on a major label. This resulted in the band’s fourth Grammy nomination. During the years of critical acclaim that ensued, Buckwheat Zydeco toured constantly, headlining at major venues as well as sharing stages with the likes of U2 and Eric Clapton, and even The Boston Pops. Clapton also recorded as a special guest with Buckwheat Zydeco – as did Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – on some of his numerous projects that followed.

 

Buckwheat Zydeco

 

The band performed at both of President Clinton’s inaugurals, and Buck was featured on the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta before a worldwide television audience of three billion.

Another first project for Buckwheat Zydeco was the release of the band’s lively children’s album, Choo Choo Boogaloo, on the Music For Little People label which has won numerous awards and rave reviews. It features zydeco originals as well as classics such as “Iko, Iko,”“Cotton Fields,”“Little Red Caboose,” and “Skip To My Lou.” In the spirit of creating a genuine family feeling people of all ages contributed to the music, including a talented young people’s gospel choir from Baton Rouge.

Buckwheat Zydeco celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing an exciting and joyous retrospective album. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 2-Year Party, a compilation of the band’s best recordings, was released on Buckwheat’s own Tomorrow Recordings label on July 6, 1999. It features 74 minutes of music on one disc as well as comprehensive liner notes in a 16-page booklet in a slipcased package. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 2-Year Party, is the definitive album, and only multi-label retrospective, of the band that has led the campaign to spread the exuberant sounds of Louisiana’s Zydeco music around the world.

The album’s cover features an unforgettable image of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. in front of the tiny boyhood home he shared with eleven brothers and sisters in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is both a tribute to his roots and a statement of how far he and the Creole music he loves have come. The album’s colorful original art was created by award-winning Jackson, MS artist H.C. Porter whose work is exhibited in shows and museums around the country.

The 1999 studio recording, Trouble, was released on Tomorrow Recordings on January 12, 1999. Buck felt strongly that this was his best album in a dozen years. Perhaps more aptly titled than Buck even knew, Trouble was originally released in May of 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic just as Mesa was undergoing a shake-up. Unsatisfied with the results of the original release – and unwilling to give up on what they felt was one of the band’s key albums – Dural and Ted Fox, convinced Atlantic to revert the album to them.

On Trouble, Buckwheat decided to concentrate on the skilled players within his band, and revisit the live-on-the-bandstand feel of the Zydeco and R&B dance halls where he first learned his craft.

Stanley Dural, Jr. died September 24, 2016.

 

 

Discography

One For The Road (Blues Unlimited Records, 1979)
100% Fortified Zydeco (Black Top Records, 1983)
Turning Point (Rounder Records, 1983)
Waitin’ For My Ya Ya (Rounder Records, 1985)
On a Night Like This (Island Records, 1987)
Taking It Home (Island Records, 1988)
Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire (MCA Special Products, 1990)
Buckwheat’s Zydeco Party (Rounder Records, 1992)
On Track (Atlantic Records, 1992)
Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection (Mango Records, 1993)
Choo Choo Boogaloo (Music For Little People, 1994)
Five Card Stud (Island Records, 1994)
Trouble (Tomorrow Recordings, 1997)
Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party (Tomorrow Recordings, 1999)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O Records, 2000)
Down Home Live (Tomorrow Recordings, 2001 )
Classics (Rounder Records 116 612 177-2, 2003)
Jackpot! (Tomorrow Recordings, 2005)
The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco: Millennium Collection (Island Records, 2006)
Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator Records, 2009)
Let The Good Times Roll: Essential Recordings (Rounder Records, 29)
Bayou Boogie (Music for Little People, 2010)

Share

Artist Profiles: C. J. Chenier

C. J. Chenier

Zydeco star C. J. Chenier was born on September 28, 1957 in Port Arthur, Texas, right next to the Louisiana state line. He has been called “The Crown Prince of Zydeco” by various music publications. According to Chenier, leader of the famous Red Hot Louisiana band, those titles are fine, but the truth lies in the music. “What we’re playing here are real songs,” he says proudly “Songs that tell stories and make you dance.”

That clarification is important to C.J. It is a lesson he learned from his father, acclaimed zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier. C.J.’s music has always embraced zydeco traditions, but he continues to push the music to new levels. “I won’t limit myself,” says C.J., and it’s clear why.

C.J. was aware of his father’s music but also had other tastes. He liked James Brown and Funkadelic, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. C.J. learned saxophone early on and as a teenager played in black top 40 bands in Port Arthur. He studied music in college and dreamed of making it as a jazz or funk player.

Then, one week before C.J.’s 21st birthday, Clifton asked him to bring his sax along and join the Red Hot Louisiana Band. “I didn’t know any of the songs they played,” he recalls, “but the guys helped me out and brought me along. And then one day the music hit me, and I knew this is what I wanted to do.” In 1985, as the effects of diabetes began to seriuosly affect his father, C.J., at Clifton’s request, picked up the accordion and started opening the shows. “He didn’t push it,” C.J. remembers. “He let me decide for myself. But when he first called me to go out and play with his band, I think it was his idea all along that I would carry on his music.

After Clifton’s death in 1987, C.J. inherited his father’s accordion as well as the Red Hot Louisiana Band. But he took his father’s music and built upon it, adding elements of jazz and funk he grew up with. When asked about his accordion playing, C.J. is quick to defer to his father, whom “nobody could ever touch,” says C.J.

C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band continued to forge ahead, releasing three solo albums (one on Arhoolie and two on Slash) and playing hundreds of concerts a year. They attracted the attention of fans, critics, and fellow musicians by playing major festivals like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, San Diego’s Street scene, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Singer-songwriter Paul Simon noticed C.J., and picked him to play on his Rhythm Of The Saints album and then asked him to join the “Born At The Right Time” tour. But that’s not all. He also shows up as a guest on the Gin Blossoms’ New Miserable Experience album.

C.J.’s next step led him to Alligator Records, the label where his father won a Grammy award for his album, I’m Here (it was also the first Grammy for the then new label).

C.J.’s label debut, Too Much Fun, became a favorite with fans and critics alike. Living Blues magazine, in their 1996 Critics’ Awards, named Too Much Fun Best Zydeco Album of 1995. Features ran in major newspapers and magazines everywhere, including The Chicago Tribune, Billboard, Blues Revue and The Los Angeles Times.

1995 appearances on the Jon Stewart Show and CNN brought C.J.’s music to his widest audience yet. But all this attention didn’t change his philosophy toward his music. “You go to a gig by a jazz band,” he says, “and everybody’s sitting down, sipping drinks. You play zydeco and you see shoes flying off. You can’t come to my show and stay unhappy all night long. You’re going to break a smile and stomp your foot before too long. This is happy music, and it makes you dance.”

C.J. Chenier recorded his 2011 album Can’t Sit Down live, in just one session, at Rock Romano’s Red Shack Studio in Houston, Texas. His goal was to capture the freshness of his music. and this is why he decided to produce the album himself.“I figured that nobody knows better what I want than I do,”he says. “Nobody knows better how I want my accordion to sound. Nobody knows better how I want my band to sound. So I decided to stop going with other people’s ears and start going with my own.”

Can’t Sit Down includes pieces by C.J. ‘s father,  Clifton Chenier, including the opening track ‘Can’t Sit down’. “I really liked it so I said, OK, let’s try this one,‘and everybody fell right in. It just clicked. That’s a sign that something is a keeper, when everybody can fall in and it feels good.”

One of C.J, Chenier’s original compositions is a tribute to his uncle, Cleveland Chenier. “He’s the grandfather of the washboard, “ says C.J. “Nobody has the technique he had. My uncle Cleveland used to call me sometimes on Sundays and he’d say,  I’m coming to pick you up. We’re gonna take a ride.’We’d go ride around. He’d always have a half pint of Crown Royale in his top coat pocket. He’d pick me up on Sundays and him and me would hit a club here and hit a club there, and just have a good time.”

Curtis Mayfield’s “We Gotta Have Peace”closes the album. “That song reflects what I’ve been feeling,”C.J. says. “We need peace, we gotta have it. That’s why I have my grandson talking in the beginning, because if we don’t get it together, where is his future?

Discography:

My Baby Don’t Wear No Shoes (Arhoolie, 1988)

Hot Rod (Slash, 1990)

I Ain’t No Playboy (Slash, 1992)

Too Much Fun (Alligator Records 1995)

The Big Squeeze (Alligator Records AL 4844, 1996)

Step It Up! (Alligator Records 2001)

The Desperate Kingdom of Love (Word Village 46841, 2006)

Can’t Sit Down (World Village 46819, 2011)

Live at 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2012)

Live at 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2013)

Live at 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2014)

Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2015)

Live at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2016)

Share

Artist Profiles: Seán Óg Graham

Seán Óg Graham

Seán Óg Graham is from Portglenone, Co. Antrim, Ireland. He’s one of Ireland’s best button accordion players. Seán Óg Graham has achieved numerous All-Ireland titles and is also a gifted, self-taught guitarist.

Seán Óg Graham has several television appearances to his credit, and has appeared as guest soloist with the Irish Harp Orchestra, the Canadian Youth Orchestra and Alan Kelly’s ‘Celtic Legends’ show. He has recorded with various Irish musicians and recently he has been accompanying Solas members Winifred Horan and Mick McAuley at their ‘Serenade’ concerts in Ireland and Europe.

Seán Óg is also a talented composer. He’s a graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at Limerick University, where he has been guided by oustanding musicians.

He is a member of famed Irish band Beoga.

Discography

A Lovely Madness (Compass Records, 2004)
Mischief (Compass Records,2007)
The Incident (Compass Records, 2009)
How to Tune a Fish (2011)
Beoga: Live At 10 -The 10th Anniversary Concert (Compass Records, 2014)
Before We Change Our Mind (2016)

Web sites: www.beogamusic.com

Share

Artist Profiles: Ray Abshire

Ray Abshire

 

Ray Abshire plays traditional Cajun dance music, performing regularly at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Festival International in Lafayette, where he lives. Currently, he leaves home only to play festivals and music camps. Born into a musical family – he is a cousin of Cajun great Nathan Abshire – Ray Abshire grew up during the South Louisiana “Dance Hall” era of the 1950s and 1960s and began playing professionally when he was 14.

He performed with all the well-known Cajun masters whose recordings form the foundation for students of Cajun music today; a highlight of his collaborations is the time he spent as accordion player with the legendary Balfa Brothers Band from 1969 to 1975.

Ray Abshire’s accordion style is traditional and he sings in the classic Cajun tenor high voice. Remaining true to the traditional sound he grew up with, Abshire draws from a large repertoire of songs rarely heard today, as featured on his CD, “For Old Times Sake” with fiddlers Courtney Granger and Kevin Wimmer on Swallow Records, released in 2003.

 

 

Discography

* For Old Times Sake (2004)

* Arrête Pas la Musique (Don’t Stop The Music) (Swallow Records, 2006)

* All night Long (Swallow Records, 2013)

* Cajun Accordion Kings (Valcour Records, 2017)

Web site: rayabshire.com

Share

Artist Profiles: Mats Eden

Mats Edén

Mats Edén was born October 30, 1957 in Södertälje, Sweden. has his roots in the rich soil of Värmland. A member of acclaimed Swedish folk ensemble Groupa since its inception in 1980, he also writes the majority of the band’s material.

Having studied composition at Norway’s Musikkskole in Oslo, it comes as no surprise to those familiar with Mats’ playing that he is a nationally recognized master accordionist, having earned the distinguished title of ‘Riksspelman’ (master musician).

His violin work is at once elegant and jagged and distinguishes the band’s sound with his own combination of the sounds of Värmland and of Norway. Mats’ third solo album Milvus (with Jonas Simonson) was released on the ECM label. He has also toured the United States of America and Europe with Ale Moller and Lena Willemark in the ECM project Nordan.

Discography

* Unga Värmlandsspelmän (Caprice, 1977)
* Lika många fötter i taket som på golvet, Oktober (1978, Amigo)
* Höppesving (Amigo, 1980)
* Av bara farten, with Groupa (Amigo, 1983)
* Vildhonung, with Groupa (Amigo, 1985)
* Utan Sans, with Groupa (Amigo, 1988)
* Månskratt, with Groupa (Amigo, 1990)
* Struling (Amigo, 1992)
* Imeland, with Groupa (Amigo, 1995)
* Nordan (ECM, 1996)
* Agram, with Nordan (ECM, 1997)
* Läckerbiten (Amigo, 1998)
* Milvus (ECM, 1999)
* Tokpolskan, with Ellika Frisell (Giga, 1999)
* Lavalek, with Groupa (Xource, 1999)
* Avtryck (Amigo, 2001)
* Träd, with Niss Kerstin Mattsson (Amigo, 2001)
* Fjalar, with Groupa (Xource, 2003)
* Vägen In, with Tina Quartey (Amigo, 2004)
* Crane Dance, with Jonas Simonson m.fl. (Nordic Tradition, 2006)
* Milvus (ECM, 2008)
* Frost, with Groupa (Footprint, 2008)
* Apple Blossom (2015)

web site: http://www.matseden.se

Share

Impeccable Contemporary Finnish Folk

Karuna – Tuulispää (Kuu Records, 2016)

Karuna features three talented contemporary folk music instrumentalists and composers from Finland. Tuulispää is Karuna’s second album and it brings together exquisite chamber music and lively and evocative Nordic folk music influences.

The music is inspired by events such as the drowning of the Syrian child Aylan in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a beautiful sunrise and the observation of animals like deer and moths.

The lineup includes Teija Niku on accordion and melodeon; Juha Kujanpää (who also leads a progressive rock band) on piano and keyboards; and the multifaceted Esko Järvelä on nyckelharpa, violin, and guitar. Järvelä is involved in multiple folk, folk-rock and world music projects like Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band, Frigg, Baltic Crossing and Tsuumi Sound System.

 

Tuulispää’s musical pieces are beautifully crafted, delicate and rich in virtuosity. A delectable Finnish folk album.

Buy Tuulispää in the Americas

Buy Tuulispää in Europe

Share

Artist Profiles: Cedric Watson

Cedric Watson

Born in San Felipe, Texas in 1983, singer, fiddler, accordionist and songwriter Cedric Watson developed an early love for Cajun music and moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he studied not only pure Cajun music but the Creole fiddling styles of Canray Fontenot and Bebe Carriere and was quickly acclaimed for his mastery.

A founding member of the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson formed a new band, Bijou Creole. In Bijou Creole, Watson explores the roots of Louisiana’s Creole music. Playing a variety of old-school zydeco styles, original material, and Creole traditional songs, the polyrhythmic and syncopated sounds of Africa and the Caribbean are unmistakable in this ensemble of talented musicians.

Michael Doucet (BeauSoleil, Savoy-Doucet Band) says, “To propel our Louisiana Creole culture into the future seems to be quite a task, but if one lives for the music as Cedric does, the path seems effortless.”

Along with Watson, Bijou Creole is rubboard (washboard) player-percussionist Mike Chaisson, bassist Blake Miller, guitarist Chris Stafford, and drummer Jermaine Prejean.

Discography

Goin’ Down to Louisiana (Valcour Records, 2006)
Cedric Watson (Valcour Records, 2008)
L’Esprit Creole (Valcour Records, 2009)
Homage Au Passe, with Pine Leaf Boys Lionsgate Records, 2009)
Creole Moon: Live From Blue Moon Saloon (Valcour Records, 2010)
Le Soliel Est Leve, with Bijou Creole (Lache Pas Records, 2011)
Le Troubadour Creole, with Bijou Creole (Lache Pas Records, 2013)

Web site: www.cedricwatson.com

Share

Artist Profiles: Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

Born in Co. Roscommon in 1972, Alan Kelly grew up in a house steeped in traditional music and dance. His grandfather was a fiddler; his grandmother, a melodeon player; his father, Frank Kelly, a piano accordionist from Fourmilehouse in southern Roscommon.

Alan chose to follow in his fathers’ footsteps and learn the piano accordion. Very soon, Alan had forged his own inimitable style influenced mainly by his father Frank and local musicians such as Paddy Ryan, John Carlos, Patsy Hanly and Frank Jordan.

In his early music years, Alan went on to win All-Ireland titles on piano accordion and piano, and also with brother John in duets and neighbor and life long friend John Wynne in trios.

Determined to become a full time musician Alan moved to Galway in 1993 where he quickly became part of the thriving traditional music scene, forging an excellent reputation for himself.

In 1994 he landed a part in the Druid Theatre’s award winning production of Vincent Woods’ ‘At the black pigs Dyke’ and spent the next 12 months performing in Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, Toronto and Sydney. He also toured with Druid’s and Vincent Woods production of ‘The Yellow Bittern’ in 1995.

Back in Galway, Alan decided to concentrate on his debut solo album and in 1997 he released Out of the Blue (BBM 001) on his own label Blackbox Music. Co-produced by Alan and Steve Cooney and featuring a host of Ireland’s top musicians, the album received ecstatic reviews from the critics, earned him a ‘Best Newcomer’ award from Irish Music Magazine and launched Alan on his solo career.

Extensive touring ensued, especially in the United States of America and Canada where ‘Out of the Blue’ was released on the Kells label.

However, it wasn’t long before theatre beckoned again and towards the end of 1997, Alan was invited by New York’s awarding winning avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines to join their production of Peter and Wendy in Los Angeles and has since performed with them in New Haven (’98) San Francisco (’99) Dublin Theatre Festival in 1999 and New York 2002.

Alan Kelly

Also, in 1997, he was invited to become a member of the house band for Sibin, a weekly music program for TG4, performing with artists such as Matt Molloy, Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, Kieran Goss, Mick Hanley, Sean Tyrell, Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey.

During January 1999 Alan toured with Music Network’s “Best of Irish” nation-wide tour alongside Michael McGoldrick, Karen Casey and Cathal Hayden playing to full houses all over the country. In the same year he also featured on Michael McGoldrick’s groundbreaking album ‘Fused‘ and continues to tour regularly with this band appearing at festivals such as Lorient 1999, Celtic Connections 2000 and Cambridge 2001 as well as many others.

In 2000, Alan released his second solo album Mosaic (TARACD4011) with a concert at the Galway Arts Festival featuring an 8 piece band with a line-up which included guitarist, Arty McGlynn, saxophonist, Richie Buckley, trumpeter, Danial Healy and Sean Smyth on fiddle. Produced by guitarist Arty McGlynn, Mosaic features many new compositions from both Alan and Arty, as well as traditional music from Scotland, Finland and, of course, Ireland.

Alan Kelly and the Mosaic Band quickly established itself as one of the hottest live acts on the Irish scene with its exciting blend of traditional, salsa and jazz rhythms, and propelled Alan onto the World Music stage.

Also in 2000 he worked with the award winning Lyric Theatre in Belfast for their production of Brian Friel’s “Wonderful Tennessee.

Alan’s other recording credits include appearances on Niamh Parsons’s Loosely Connected in 1992, Michael McGoldrick’s Morning Rory in 1996 and Fused in 2000, and Sean Keane’s Seansongs in 2002. He guested with Lunasa on their Irish tour promoting their album Otherworld and also collaborated with Alison Brown, the Grammy award winning banjo player on her Irish tour in 2001. During July 2002 Alan toured with Ireland’s legendary De Danann in Canada.

Alan’s most recent recording project has seen him return to his Roscommon roots for a duet album with his brother John. The album titled Fourmilehouse (BBM 2003) is traditional music served straight up, with no need for studio sweeteners or sleight of hand.

Today Alan is credited with single-handedly reviving the piano accordion in Irish traditional music.

Discography

Out of the Blue (Black Box Music BBM 001, 1997)
Mosaic (TARACD4011, 2000)
Fourmilehouse (Black Box Music BBM, 2003)
After the Morning (Black Box Music, 2009)
Small Towns & Famous Nights (Black Box Music BBM 006, 2011)
The Last Bell (Black Box Music BBM 007, 2014)

web site: alankellygang.ie

Share

Zydeco Master Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural Dies at 68

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural passed away on September 24 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was 68 years old. Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural was the leader of one of the greatest Zydeco bands, Buckwheat Zydeco.

Buckwheat Zydeco’s powerful live shows were legendary for the fun and abandon they inspired. It was the first Zydeco band to land a major record label deal, the first to perform on a national television show, the first to have its music featured in major motion pictures, TV shows and national TV commercials, the first to record with top rock musicians and the first to introduce Zydeco to the music mainstream.

Buckwheat Zydeco embodied a genre and represented a community with his signature playing style that brought distinctly creole zydeco music to fans across the globe. Buckwheat played both for and with legends, performing at both Clinton inaugurations, touring with Eric Clapton, and collaborating with a seemingly endless list of artists over his 40-plus year career. He won an Emmy for his work in TV and a GRAMMY in the genre he helped define. The world lost a music heavyweight today. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. was born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a close-knit community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French, and by playing and dancing to Zydeco. This hybrid genre blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles’ white neighbors.

As the son of a Zydeco accordionist, Buckwheat grew up steeped in this culture, and also absorbed Lafayette’s ample outpouring of blues and Gulf Coast “swamp pop.” He began his professional career as an R&B sideman, playing keyboards for artists such as Joe Tex, Barbara Lynn and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
In 1971, Dural began leading his own R&B and funk band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, playing the contemporary sounds of popular bands like Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind &Fire. The group achieved a regional hit with “It’s Hard to Get.”

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

By the mid-1970s, South Louisiana began to experience a grass-roots cultural renaissance as Zydeco and Cajun music, once scorned as overly ethnic, gained appreciation as treasured cultural resources. As the demand grew for Zydeco bands, Dural was offered a gig playing organ for the “King of Zydeco,” the late Clifton Chenier. Buck (as he was also known) worked hard and learned all that he could. After three years of touring, recording and accordion apprenticeship, he left in 1979 to lead his own group, Buckwheat Zydeco and the ils Sont Partis Band. Like Chenier, Buckwheat continued to blend traditional Creole Zydeco with the latest black-contemporary styles, drawing on all of his rich and varied musical experience.

Recording prolifically for various independent labels, Dural attracted the attention of music journalist Ted Fox, who became his manager and co-producer. In 1987, Fox arranged Buckwheat’s signing with Island Records, and he became the first Zydeco artist to appear on a major label. This resulted in the band’s fourth Grammy nomination.

During the years of critical acclaim that has ensued, Buckwheat Zydeco toured constantly, headlining at major venues as well as sharing stages with the likes of U2 and Eric Clapton, and even The Boston Pops. Clapton also recorded as a special guest with Buckwheat Zydeco – as did Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – on some of his numerous projects that followed.

The band performed at both of President Clinton’s inaugurals, and Buck was featured on the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta before a worldwide television audience of three billion.

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

Another first project for Buckwheat Zydeco was the release of the band’s lively children’s album, Choo Choo Boogaloo, on the Music For Little People label which won numerous awards and rave reviews. It features zydeco originals as well as classics such as “Iko, Iko,””Cotton Fields,””Little Red Caboose,” and “Skip To My Lou.” In the spirit of creating a genuine family feeling people of all ages contributed to the music, including a talented young people’s gospel choir from Baton Rouge.

Buckwheat Zydeco celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing a retrospective album. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 20-Year Party, a compilation of the band’s best recordings, was released on Buckwheat’s own Tomorrow Recordings label on July 6, 1999. It features 74 minutes of music on one disc as well as comprehensive liner notes in a 16-page booklet in a slipcased package.

The album’s cover features an unforgettable image of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. in front of the tiny boyhood home he shared with eleven brothers and sisters in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is both a tribute to his roots and a statement of how far he and the Creole music he loves have come. The album’s colorful original art was created by award-winning Jackson, MS artist H.C. Porter whose work is exhibited in shows and museums around the United States.

The studio recording, Trouble, was released on Tomorrow Recordings on January 12, 1999. Buck felt strongly that this was his best album in a dozen years. Perhaps more aptly titled than Buck even knew, Trouble was originally released in May of 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic just as Mesa was undergoing a shake-up. Unsatisfied with the results of the original release – and unwilling to give up on what they felt was one of the band’s key albums – Dural and Ted Fox, convinced Atlantic to revert the album to them.

On Trouble, Buckwheat decided to concentrate on the skilled players within his band, and revisit the live-on-the-bandstand feel of the Zydeco and R&B dance halls where he first learned his craft.

Discography:

One For The Road (Blues Unlimited Records, 1979)
Take It Easy, Baby (Blues Unlimited Records, 1980)
Peoples Choice (Blues Unlimited Records, 1982)
100% Fortified Zydeco (Black Top Records, 1983)
Turning Point (Rounder Records, 1983)
Ils Sont Partis (Blues Unlimited Records, 1984)
Waitin’ For My Ya Ya (Rounder Records, 1985)
On a Night Like This (Island Records, 1987)
Taking It Home (Island Records, 1988)
Where Theres Smoke Theres Fire (MCA Records|MCA Special Products, 1990)
Buckwheats Zydeco Party (Rounder Records, 1992)
On Track (Atlantic Records, 1992)
Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection (Mango Records, 1993)
Choo Choo Boogaloo (Music For Little People, 1994)
Five Card Stud (Island Records, 1994)
The Best Of Louisiana Zydeco (Avi Entertainment, 1996)
Trouble (Tomorrow Recordings, 1997)
Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party (Tomorrow Recordings, 1999)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O Records, 2000)
Down Home Live (Tomorrow Recordings, 2001)
Classics (Rounder Records, 2003)
Jackpot! (Tomorrow Recordings, 2005)
The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco: Millennium Collection (Island Records, 2006)
Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator Records, 2009)
Let The Good Times Roll: Essential Recordings (Rounder Records, 2009)

Share