Opelousas is the home of zydeco music so it was a great treat to visit in December. Whenever I went to New Orleans I took in the Thursday zydeco nights at the Rock N Bowl and have gone to many zydeco shows elsewhere but had never gone to where it all started. As I drove through Opelousas I saw a mural that covered a number of the zydeco greats – see below. I was fortunate enough to see Clifton Chernier and Boozoo Chavis live before they passed. I have a number of music videos with Buckwherat Zydeco and he is coming to Cambridge soon so I plan to take him in here.
Herman Fuselier has several radio shows that cover zydeco music and more In the Opelousas Lafayette area. His Zydeco Stomp program airs from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday on KRVS 88.7 FM. The show streams live on the web at www.krvs.org. The zydeco music starts at 8 a.m. on that station with John Broussard and Melvin Cesar. Herman also hosts Barbecue & Drink a Few (zydeco, blues and R&B) from 2 - 6 p.m. Sunday on KVPI 92.5 FM. Herman told me about two zydeco shows described below that I had not been able to find online. St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission publishes updates on local zydeco events.
Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band
Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band performed at Friday in the Events Center at the Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino in Opelousas. Admission was free. Keith was great. He did a high-energy non-stop two hour set and I bought his CD. You had to go through a 1000 slot casino and a good country and western band at the bar to find the dance hall around the corner but there was a good crowd and a lot of room for dancing allowing a few hot shots to really show off.
Lil Nate and Leon Chavis at Slim's Y-Ki-Ki Opelousas
Lil Nate and the Zydeco Big Timers, along with Leon Chavis and the Zydeco Flames, played Saturday night at Slim’s Y-Ki-Ki, 8471 Highway 182, in Opelousas (318) 942-9980. Lil Nate and Leon, both in their 20s, are two of the hot young acts on the zydeco scene today. Nate is the son of Nathan Williams, leader of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. I have seen the older Nathan in Rhode Island and have several of his CDs. Leon is a cousin of the great Boozoo Chavis (see image from mural above). I saw Boozoo in Jacksonville FL in the late 90s. He passed in 2002. Slim’s is the oldest zydeco club around, owned and operated by the Gradney family since 1947.
Leon Chavis went first and was still going strong two hours later. He put more bounce (aka hip hop) into his songs as the set progressed and the energy increased. I love the long sets the zydeco guys seem to do. But it had been a long day and I had to drive back to Lafayette so he out lasted me and I did not hear Lil Nathan. I was curious and I went on the Web and found a great video Lil Nathan did when I got back. I look forward to his new CD that Herman mentioned on his radio show.
Geno Delafose and the French Rockin' Boogie at Whiskey Landing in Henderson
Whiskey River Landing hosts zydeco dance sessions every Sunday afternoon from 4 to 8 in Henderson. It is located on the swamp side of the levee for the Atchafalaya Basin and you can see the swamp through the windows of the dance hall behind the band. This afternoon Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie played. They place was packed. The bar has a routine that they ring a bell if you give them a good tip and throw you in the swamp if you are bad tipper. Not a bad idea and I only saw bell ringing. I have several of his Geno’s CDs. The quality shot of Geno came from his MySpace page as the lighting was not good for photos that afternoon. Whiskey River Landing is located at 1365 Henderson Levee Rd, Henderson, LA 337-228-2277.