Young musicians strive to keep Cajun
NEW ORLEANS Singer John Mayer sang his hits after local born bluesman Dr. John performed hometown favourites such as Iko on Friday to close out the sun drenched first day of the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
They were among the final performers on a day heavy on Louisiana influenced music, such as T a band of 20 somethings that kicked off the festival with century old, fiddle heavy Cajun tunes.
vais faire accoire, que tu m toujours, sang Drew Simon (pronounced SEE mon), while playing the accordion to lyrics from an old Cajun song that loosely translated means going to make believe that you still love me. (pronounced TEE mone), in Cajun French can mean world or people. The group based in Lafayette, La., opened one of the festival 12 stages Friday under sunny skies, 70 degree temperatures and a gentle breeze.
Jazz Fest spans two weekends. It continues through Sunday and then resumes May 2 5.
A strong police p guess factory resence was evident as the festival opened less than two weeks after the Boston Marathon bomb explosions. Police on foot and in electric carts were out in force and veteran Jazz Fest patrons said bags were checked more thoroughly.
Couples danced in the grass as T played on the Fais Do Do (FAY doh doh) stage, where Cajun and zydeco music would be performed throughout the festival.
Simon, who at 29 is the eldest of the T guess factory trio, said he studied old recordings of Cajun music dating back to the early 1900s. The music was common at Cajun parties known as a do do, where couples would two step to music played with just a handful of instruments, usually a fiddle or guitar and an accordion.
Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis said Cajun and zydeco music are as important to the festival as jazz.
are certain aspects of culture that only exist here, Davis said. the birthright of jazz, everybody knows that, second line music, the Mardi Gras Indians go along with that. The other wonderful culture in southwest Louisiana is the French speaking people that are Cajun and zydeco in terms of music. said about 25 Cajun bands and 25 zydeco bands will perform at this year festival.
younger generations are really keen on the music and keeping it alive, so there traditional Cajun music, which is dance hall music, and then there zydeco, which is like French rock roll, Davis said.
Corey Ledet (pronounced LUH day), another opening day act, said he can remember a time when zydeco music wasn a part of his life.
Ledet great grandfather played an upright bass, while his grandfather, father and uncle are drummers. He said his grandfather often played with Grammy winning Creole and zydeco legend Clifton Chenier of Opelousas, La.
in my family, all around me and it fell on me like a ton of bricks, said Ledet, of Parks, La. He said he been playing both the accordion and drums for 22 of his 31 years. guess factory He said he feels obligated to do his part in keepi guess factory ng alive the musical traditions he learned from elders in his family.
would like to see the tradition survive, he said. hate for ours to be the only one that dies off. Jazz Fest veteran, Ledet said he looks forward to the performance every year.
fans are just always fired up and ready to party. Rain or shine, it one big, endless party, he said.
That party atmosphere fits right in with his genre of music, Ledet said.
and zydeco are basically happy music, he said. makes me feel good no matter what going on in my life. And, it very addictive. Once it gets in your blood, it hard to get out. Fest first timer Suzi Peterson Steward of Ann Arbor, Mich., bobbed to the music as Ledet and his band played.
love zydeco. It infectious. You can stand still, she said.
Ledet said the festival also boosts his band exposure. They played Paris twice and have had gigs in Germany, Amsterdam, Malaysia, Hawaii and Alaska.
In all, hundreds of acts will perform over the next two festival weekends, covering genres such as Cajun, zydeco, jazz, blues, rock, hip hop and gospel. Louisiana artists will perform among national headliners including Billy Joel, Hall and Oates, Kem, Maroon 5 and Fleetwood Mac.