Zydeco music was born out of south west Louisiana from a mixture of traditional Cajun music, mixed with R&B, jazz and gospel. However, over the last 100 years this style has spread its wings to other parts of the US and further afield, originally as French-speaking and Louisiana Creole speaking Créoles left the state to look for better economic opportunities.
By the 1950’s Zydeco was on gaining popularity through the likes of Clifton Chenier “The King of Zydeco”, and by the 1980’s Zydeco artists were winning Grammys and signing major record deals. One of these was the great Rockin’ Dopsie, father of Dwayne Dopsie, who himself is seen a world leader in the genre. Dwayne and his band the Zydeco Hellraisers have themselves been nominated for a Grammy, and now tour more than 200 days a year.
Their appearance at this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival was their first to the city, and Dwayne was not shy in professing his love for this newly conquered territory, praising everything from the mountains to the sushi.
Having caught the end of their earlier workshop with Oktopus, which itself was a great blend of klezmer and zydeco, I was more than keen for Dwayne and co to make their appearance on the main stage later in the evening. The show was one of the highlights of the day.
The band took to the stage to get the crowd going, with Paul Lafleur a centre of attention in his distinctive washboard and black cowboy hat and sunglasses, and some incredible fretwork from Brandon David. After a short while though, America’s Hottest Accordion, Dwayne Dopsie beamed onto the stage and the audience were immediately in his hands.
The band played a thrilling 50-minute set, and clearly left with a whole bunch of new fans who had an open invitation to go visit the gang in New Orleans.
More from Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers at https://dwaynedopsie.com/
Check out our gallery from the show, with photos from Stewart Johnstone