Welcome to old and new friends who are interested in discussing Cajun and other diatonic accordions, along with some occasional lagniappe....



General Forum
Start a New Topic 
View Entire Thread
Re: Traditional cajun music

I think that there are a lot of young musicians out there that will ensure that traditional Cajun music
is around for a long time: Kevin Naquin, Jason Frey, Blake Miller, Lyle Guidry are just a very few examples. Of course a big factor will be the demand for it. A good friend of mine, who formerly played in a Cajun band, was recently asked how long he thought that people would continue to sing in Cajun French. His response was, "As long as people are willing to pay to hear it." I thought that he made a pretty good point.

Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Cajun music in Louisiana seems to have a more loyal following than ever.(Not neccesarily larger) I see more and more young musicians choosing to play French music. We have a large number of kids graduating from high school now who are bilingual as a result of the Action Cadienne French emersion program. They learned French not because they were forced to but because they are taking an interest in their roots and culture.
There is definately a new revival in Cajun French Culture and music in Louisiana and This time around it's not about selling the T-shirt. And some of our hottest French bands are made up of some young musicians. FeuFollet, Kevin Naquin, Courtney Granger, the Michot Brothers, all started playing and recording at a very young age. Some of them have taken and interest in the old styles and are digging up old field recordings from the USL archives and reviving this music.
I talked to Christine Balfa on the last day of Balfa camp and she was elated at the turnout and the quality of instruction, commraderie, and talent present. Most people I talked to said it was the best camp ever. The dedication of groups like La FolkRoots and participation in their events speaks volumes about the current tide in our culture.
Aaron, I've never met you so don't take this the wrong way but; I play this music for myself first. I'm of Acadien descent. I grew up a cajun, it's in my blood. The tradition of this music for me is not about making a few extra bucks at a gig. It is part of who I am and where my family came from and who my friends are. Don't get me wrong, I dearly love playing for a crowd and watching their smiles as they dance. That they enjoy my music makes it all that much more worth while. This is after all very social music. But, and not to seem harsh, I could care less what the record sales are like in Utah. Most all the cajun musicians I know would play till the day they died even if the only audience was the dog sleeping on the porch. (Mine happens to love the fiddle!)
Play for the right reasons. Play cause it makes you happy. It'll show in your music and folks can't help but like it and wanna dance and buy the record. (and the t-shirt)
Layne Z

Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

I think Layne hit the nail on the head concerning Cajuns and Cajun culture. It is our culture, so what if it's popularity died out in Calif. N.Y. or where ever. We use it as a reason to get together. My dogs like the accordion also. Most musicians I know would rather play at a family get together than a paid gig.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Is that how you spell you last name (Fonetnot) or is it a typo? Juss wondering!

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Typing was not one on my best subjects.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Hi Layne,

Just wondering, the Action Cadienne French immersion program, was it teaching Cajun french?

I know one of the criticisms of the old CODOFIL push was that the French being taught was not Cajun french.

CODOFIL must have had an early start. I can remember in the seventh grade my middle school adding a French class. I signed up, but freaked out when I was only one of two boys in the class. Silly me, only a year later would I have revelled in that. However, I wish I'd stayed in.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Hmmm...CODOFIL was founded in 1968. I was in seventh grade in, oh, 1966. I wonder if the two events were connected. Its hard to think of Houma as a front-runner in promoting cajun culture, since it was so much an oil boom town.

Action Cadienne

I think that Action Cadienne is teaching Cajun French where and when it can based on the availability of teachers. There is much more enthusiasm here for this new program when compared with the original attempts made by CODOFIL.
I gotta say, It warms my heart to see kids coming out of high school not just understanding French, but fluent in the language. They are truly interested in where they came from and the future of their culture.

"Un peuple sans passe, est un peuple san futur."

One other note. A bill was recently introduced to try and make English the "official" language of the State of Louisiana. Sad but true. I havent checked on its progress lately but I'll let ya'll know.
Oh, and sorry if I seem like the militant Cajun lately in some of my posts, but this subject is one that is dear and close to me. This music is part of who I am.
Layne Z.

Re: Action Cadienne

Hi Layne,

Having been born and raised in Terrebonne Parish, but not being cajun, I do have a different viewpoint. Even though my nieces and nephews are half cajun, they are not "practicing". And I dated many a cajun woman, and had many a cajun friend. I'm a quasi-outsider, but then again, quasi-not. I never, EVER, imagined someday I would be so involved with cajun music. But here I am.

It is wearing on me to learn cajun lyrics because its all phonic memorization, which makes we think again about signing up for some french classes.

It is your culture, it is your music. My take on things will tend to be somewhat removed and less emotional than yours. Things that do get to me though are people from outside the culture who, in order to garner some authenticity for themselves, will try to outdo the locals with their angry reactions to the things that also upset locals about their music an culture. They stomp around demanding that others have to do things a certain way, you must say that, you must not say this, etc, etc, and tend to act in a very insulting manner. Its a joke to watch them, really.

I think I digressed again.

Re: Re: Action Cadienne

I've watched that "emotional outsider" both in person, and have from different discussion lists. I've never seen locals act in the same way. Which is why I can't take it seriously.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

The French immersion programs teach "standard" French, but include a strong dose of Cajun French language and culture. That's what distinguishes it from CODOFIL, although I believe that CODOFIL now has some involvement with the immersion programs.

Here is my 2-cents :-)


Seems to me that some of the responses I've read are
indiscriminately mixing two concepts:

1.) Music
2.) Entertainment

With respect to the Cajun *music*, it will probably
live on like Straus waltzes, polka, & rock 'n roll.

But as an entertainment commodity .. well, the
entertainment business is the most fickle popularity
contest in the world.

Case in point .. what recent event has gained Paula Abdul
the most popularity that she ever has achieved in her
career? (Hint: It has little to do with music)

I'll get off my soap box now


Re: Here is my 1-cents :-)

Cajuns will always play their music just as all other folk cultures play thiers. However those who are just following trends will surely get disinterested. For us we just squeeze on.

Re: Re: Here is my 1-cents :-)

Keep in mind that the real "traditional" instrument in Cajun music was actually the violin up until the late 1920s. The accordion became established as the new traditional instrument because lot's of people bought Joe Falcon, Amede Ardoin, etc.'s records and paid to hear them at the dance halls. More Cajun musicians began to sing songs with bilingual lyrics, and sometimes entirely in English, because folks like the Hackberry Ramblers, Harry Choates, and Happy Fats got lots of work by doing it. Currently, a lot of traditional Cajun bands are lucky to make 4 or 5 hundred dollars per performance, if that much. Zydeco and zydeCajun bands often make triple that, even at home in Louisiana. So, unfortunately, there is always going to be some economic influence on the endurance of "traditional" styles and changes within them.

Re: Re: Re: Here is my 1-cents :-)

Ditto that "Lord of Holly Beach". Our family band played a festival in Louisana several years ago and my nephew was on the board of the festival and the "Zydeco Band" right before us made 4 times as much money as we did!!Guess they are smarter than us. My son now plays what I call "Rock & Roll Cajun", and he plays 4 to 5 times a week and does quite well. I always had a good job and loved playing no matter what the pay was, in fact sometimes I had such a good time that I would have PAID them to let me play.
I don't think traditional Cajun Music will ever die out, but because of the fact that not a lot of the younger cajuns are dancing the traditional waltz and two-step, I think that the dance halls will completely disappear.
Thanks for the article Aaron, you do a great job playing Traditional Cajun Music and I hope you will continue for as long as you can. Hang in there, Roland Ledet

Re: Re: Re: Re: Here is my 1-cents :-)

Hey Roland,

Your son, Eustac, does a great job with Mudbug. I've got the Static Years CD (on Shrimpboat Records) in my collection and it's a fine effort.

The two traditional tunes on it (J'ai etais au Bal & La Porte en Arriere) sound real traditional for accordion & lyrics, and that rock rhythm section pump them up a lot. Of their originals, I particularly like "Le Bon Bon Bon" and "Le Baton Chaud."

They get regular airplay on my show (Tabasco Road) here in Tucson on kxci.org (screaming on the web), airing every Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m., Arizona time.

Of course, I match it with Retourner au les Vieux Temps and comment on the connection with you & the twins.


--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Replying to:

Ditto that "Lord of Holly Beach". Our family band played a festival in Louisana several years ago and my nephew was on the board of the festival and the "Zydeco Band" right before us made 4 times as much money as we did!!Guess they are smarter than us. My son now plays what I call "Rock & Roll Cajun", and he plays 4 to 5 times a week and does quite well. I always had a good job and loved playing no matter what the pay was, in fact sometimes I had such a good time that I would have PAID them to let me play.
I don't think traditional Cajun Music will ever die out, but because of the fact that not a lot of the younger cajuns are dancing the traditional waltz and two-step, I think that the dance halls will completely disappear.
Thanks for the article Aaron, you do a great job playing Traditional Cajun Music and I hope you will continue for as long as you can. Hang in there, Roland Ledet

Re: Traditional cajun music

I think, that traditional cajun music is slowly dieing. There are still bands that plays traditional cajun music (accordion, one or two fiddle(s), guitare and triangle and maybe drums) but not enough. It's like country music...what happend to Loretta Lynn's style or Hank Williams. I call that old country music. If you hear the country music now, 15-20 years ago they would call that hard rock. And to make it real cajun music, every songs should be all in French. There are a lot of Cajun bands that has 50% English and 50% French or even a song 100% English. Anyways, if I hear a French cajun band with an accordion, 2 fiddles, a triangle, guitar and/or drums and bass, there's a pretty good chance I will buy their cd and listen to it every day.

Me too...

I love the music, period. Being of mixed decent, I could have a claim on a bunch of music, but it has all died out in the great American "melting pot." In Tokyo, we are absolutely flooded with the "newest," the "latest" and the "coolest" stuff on the planet. It is just really boring. It seems that 99.9% of what is current is just commercially manufactured junk.

As a kid, I heard the first Rock & Roll. It was electrifying to hear Little Richard, The Everly Brothers, Huey "Piano" Smith, The Chantells, etc. But everyone of these people had deep roots in some tradition, either the church, the honkytonk or the back porch.

We live in a digital age where everything can be copied and rehashed. But you cannot copy Adam and Cyp Landrenau (speling?) or Bois Sec Ardoin. The music is just too much of earth and spirit. You can learn from them and do your best, that's about it. That's why I like it.

If there is one thing I would offer as an outsider is, I think it serves the music and Cajun Culture well to really learn about it, and then let 'er rip. This is difficult music to play if you are not born to it, so treating it with respect and then going for it is the way to kep it happening outside of Louisiana, but YMMV. I would love to hear the Lost Bayou Ramblers someday. Sounds like my kind of band... :- )

Back to lurk...-L-

Re: Me too...

how this music and culture resonates is hard to put into words. The more I learn, the more I need to know. The affection and afinity I feel for the French Cadiens of Louisiana stem from their music and words, effortless, simple and complex at once, even in English. To quote Marc Savoy "... nothing artsy-fartsy or mousy about it". The fact that this forum spans the globe from London to Tokyo and Adelaide speaks volume, that non-French speakers would want to sing in Cajun French is incredible to me. It may change and adapt once in a while to the chagrin of some, but this is not trendy profit-driven music. It's deep roots. THAT just doesn't die.

One more point...

Check out the Lost Bayou Ramblers website. There are a few clips of songs from their Cd.
And I'll get on my soapbox one more time. I go to see traditional French bands as often as 3 nights in a week here. I almost never hear a song sung in English. (Outside of Zydeco)
French music is getting the respect and attention it deserves here. I really don't know about the rest of the country and don't care. Our music and tradition is built and sustained from within our culture. I may be a bit myopic, but it's hard for me to imagine that trends outside of Louisiana will have any long term impact on us.
And as far as What happened to Loretta Lynn? She won two Grammys at the last awards, one was for country album of the year. For an album that gets no airtime on the radio. One more point. I just sold a Cd from a band called "Old Crow Medicine Show" on ebay for $200.
This was a first release from a hardcore traditional old time country band that was released in limited numbers a few years back. These guys are from around 22-26 years old and use only acoustic instruments and play originals and covers of songs that were popular around 1925-1930. I doubt anyone ever paid $200 bucks for an old Garth Brooks Cd.
Trends tend to die out. The roots tend to live on. I'd like to think that my culture is not a trend.
I'll get down now. Sorry for rambling.
Layne Z.

Re: One more point...

I need to move to Lafayette... or nearby. Seriously, I grew up on an Ohio corn farm and lived in the north California woods for 16 years. I have never been truly happy living in the city. I have a little (really little) bit of cash, and I could probably buy a small farmhouse ad five acres in your neck of the woods. Wha am I waiting for? :-0

Re: Traditional cajun music

I have just stumbled onto this website and find it fascinating that Cajun music has fans so wide spread. I grew up with it and the older I get the more fascinated I get with it, especially since I have moved away (oh, what have I done).

Something curious is brought up here. Just what is considered "Traditional Cajun" music. I think of the Balfa's, Nathan Abshire, Iry Lejeune, and other's from that era. They're the ones that make my soul fly. But most of them were just part of an evolution in the music that I really think it would be hard to put a finger on what would be considered traditional, it is such a melting pot. My great grandfather was Dennis Mcgee, who sang very old tunes, many of which he added words to. Many of them have a very Irish sound to them. You hear many old songs with a definate Polka sound to them. And as someone said, the accordian was not original Cadien stuff. Those older players both made their own music and redid older songs with their own twist.

What I see lacking in many newer bands that I have heard is that feeling, that coming from the soul sound. Many of them are technically better players, but they are missing the most important ingredient to what I consider traditional, soul. Bois Sec and Canray were not the best technically, but they harnessed a feeling in their music that is hard to describe or copy. And many dont even understand.

Just my .02 worth. My heartfelt respect goes out to all of you playing the music. Prend Courage. Lache-pas la musique de mon am.

Bryan Lafleur

Re: Traditional cajun music

Great question and great answers! I believe that traditional Cajun music will never die, but I do believe that there is a problem for the musicians who play the music. Many who want to play full-time, to make recordings, and, maybe even tour have a hard time doing that - there just isn't enough money or other support to allow them to do that.

Why, I do not know. Many years ago, I believe that the Balfas, Dennis McGee, the Landreneaus, D.L. Menard, Marc Savoy, and othermade frequent appearances around the country. Today, there are basically just a few bands that tour regularly.

The marketing means to help to make touring and recording financially beneficial is just not there. There is no good place to buy cajun recordings; many who could help to market and promote the music either do not know how or do not believe that it is worth their while to do that. Zydeco music seems to get in the way, even though that music will be assigned to the music junk heap much sooner that authentic traditional music will be. Record companies that should be interested seem to be more interested in themselves than in the musicians.

I live in Maryland, and there are very few bands from Louisiana who come here any more. I suspect that is also true in many other areas of the Country. Cajun (and other forms of traditional music) needs more "listeners" who will pay to see the music played "live" and will purchase recordings. The only problem is that too few people know just how wonderful the music is and the musicians are.

As for Cajun fiddle music, it isn't exactly flourishhing (on a commercial scale) either, even though there are some wondeful Cajun fiddlers. There are many more people who play Old-Time fiddle music than there are who play Cajun fiddle music. Many more Old-Time fiddlers know about people like Ed Haley, Emmett Lundy, John Salyer, Edden Mammonds and dozens of others than they do about Dennis McGee, one of the greatest of any kind of fiddlers. If they only knew more about him and his playing style, they would try to play like he did. That would be good for the Cajun economy.

And how about the local SW Louisiana music scene? There is not much more depressing than to go to some music venue where a wonderful band is playing and finding that there are less than a dozen people there. For some reason that I do not understand, it seem like a lot of the old dance halls are dying.

Maybe some day, someone who understands the potential for Cajun music to help the musicians and dance halls and the overall economy of SW Louisiana will recognize that the music is that good and should be nurtured and promoted everywhere. More listeners and dancers will come, and the world will be a better place.

In the meantime, traditional Cajun and Creole music (with fiddles and accordions)is what is good! That other stuff isn't good! Thanks for keeping the tradition alive.

Jack Bond

Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

For many, and so was for me, cajun, and creole, tend to be acquired tastes. Most folks can't understand the lyrics, vocals can be grating, and the accordion is not exactly a smooth instrument. When you can't understand what is being said, you lose a whole layer of attachment to a piece of music.

All these things are counter to the contemporary music scene that most folks are used to. And to contemporary culture. Cajun music is outside of contemporary culture for most folks, and therefore is a "specialty" music.

I didn't really start appreciating the music until I started trying to play it. Ok, first I started dancing too it, then playing it. Even at that, I prefer a more contemporary sound, like Balfa Toujours (but not Beausoleil) to some of the much older stuff. The sound quality is better, for several reasons.

Zydeco, on the other hand, is closer to mainstream music than cajun is. Therefore, people gravitate to it more easily. I'd say though, if the trend to keep blending zydeco with hip-hop, etc, goes on, it might well end up in the trash bin. That, however, is personal opinion, just as are your comments, Jack. Zydeco came about by a blending of the old with the newer R&B sounds. Who knows what will happen.

There's people on the squeezebox discussion list who continually lament the fall in the popularity of the accordion from, say, fifty years ago. However, when you point to something like Zydeco bringing back a popularity for a couple of different types of accordions, they too will say that Zydeco is trash and destined for the trash bin. In this case, what they people are lamenting is the popularity of themselves as accordion musicians, not the instrument itself. But I digress.

I've talked to one musician who is in a popular Louisiana cajun band, and she was in the same boat as me: we both listen to most cajun music to study it. If we want to listen to something for pure enjoyment, we'll more likely put something on that we respond to on a different level.

For people who were born and raised with cajun music, it is what they already know, and so their response can be closer to home.

Question....what drew you in?

Hi Dwight,

I agree with much of what you say--good observations about the whole issue of acccessibility or "ease of attachment" when music falls outside our own traditions or experience. And some aspects of traditional Cajun/Creole music can take awhile to "grow on you."

I was surprised by one comment, though: that you mainly listen to Cajun music in order to study it--that for pure enjoyment, you'd likely put on something else.

It's hard work learning to play, that's for sure. But why go through all that if it didn't start with some fundamental attraction to the music--as something that gave you pleasure to hear?

Even with the language difference, so many people do seem to have that "immediate response" to Cajun music, which then deepens as they learn more about the culture and the music. Kind of an instant conversion experience. Mine was 15 years ago, after my first trip to Louisiana.

(I do recognize the sizeable other camp, the ones who say it leaves them cold!)

Anyway, I was just curious. Didn't something about Cajun music strike the spark, give you pleasure in listening, make you want to play it?


Re: Question....what drew you in?

In a word, dancing. Its an infectious dance music. I was very involved in cajun dancing before I ever picked up a rubboard, then accordion, then fiddle.

And having always wanted to be a musician, it provided a way to be involved in another way with something that I was enjoying already. So, listening to some cajun music outside of the dance hall is not the same as listening to it in the dance hall. You just don't get that multimedia effect.

Its also an accessible music, once you get past the particular hurdles of the instruments. And lyrics. And rhythm.

Re: Re: Question....what drew you in?

And, I guess, it is where I'm from.

Re: Re: Traditional cajun music- good topic

Oh I guess here about a month ago, I wrote of this young fiddler (10 yr old) that I met by my just sitting on the porch doing what it is I enjoy doing.. playing traditional accordion.

We only spoke of traditional French muisc for about 3 hours once we met... then... boop off he went and I have not seen or heard from him since! Lo-and-behold, had a call last evening re: young Mr. Carl and he would like to hook up and play some stuff he has been working on (traditional French music). So while I wondered what he was doing.. he was learning and practicing traditional at home, plus what ever else kids do with spare time.

Mind you (everyone) I live in a little town (Galt) in Northern California... So here I am thinking about this topic of the croaking out of the tradiditional music and thinking ...hummmm, of all the places on the planet GALT and up pops this little bitty guy fiddle player wanting to indulge in Traditional French Music! How odd is that one?

Will it die out? Will it go away?
Perhaps as Mr. Roland had indicated.. yep, the dance halls may wither away to a short few.. but I just don't think that this old soul sound for Traditional French Music will dry up and blow away all together... nope, not as long as some distant sound of an accordion catches the attention of some young ear and leaves em wanting to know what it is all about... especially stemming from a town called Galt California.

I look forward to this afternoons session with young Carl the fiddle playing prodigy ... I am knowing that this youngster has choices for what it is he wants from his violin and yet he's picking up on traditional.

Aside from all that.... if it is MONEY MONEY MONEY (and for some it seems to be), may as well hook up with some syndicated this or that and spike your hair up, eat rats (or worse) on stage. HA. or... have a day job which most do anyways.

Power to the old goats and the young kids of Traditional French Music that do it for the love of it all. Makes me want to whip up a pitcher of Margies and celebrate!

Nonc D

Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music- good topic

We can only hope this music and culture stays alive.... I feel it will. I'm 25 years old and I live in Baltimore maryland, where there is practically no following for Cajun music, yet I'm doing anything I can to spread interest in it. I often go to accordion club meetings and play these older guys and some young people cajun accordion music. It was there my band was aired on fox 45. I've got my siser's friend's kid interesed in playing. I also spend a whole lot of time by the inner harbor and fells point playing caun music for hours to many drunken bar hoppers. You must make a point to explain what it is you are playing for those interesed.

This sounds like a small cry to a large crowd (being baltimore), but I take my accordion out when i can and spread the word. if enough people do that, Cajun music will stay alive.

Re: Traditional cajun music


The popularity of Cajun, Bluegrass, Big Band, Folk, etc. will ebb and flow with the times. They will be modified and adapted only to be re-discovered by purists. A few hard core performers may even scratch out a living at it.

The accordion is a relative new commer and we are very fortunate that some of the original performers were recorded in the 1920s and 30's.

Happy tunes

Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

My question is.... will there ever be a shortage of accordion makers in the future? Marc says no one will carry on his business, Larry says the same. Mouton's website is down (is Greg done making boxes?).


Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

Well, we certainly have evidence on this board of two people who have started building more recently, and who haven't even hit full stride: Jude Moreau and Ed Poullard.

Jude has been at it for awhile, though not as long as Marc and Larry--and he is 20-some years younger than they are. Ed has started more recently, and has already made some beautiful instruments. So I think we can look forward to many productive years ahead from both of them!

The newer builders have been influenced and helped, of course, by Marc and especially Larry, from what I understand. So their legacy will continue in that way.

It is a good question though--are any younger people showing signs of picking up the craft?


You can disregard that link in my previous post :-(

Didn't mean to include that link in my previous post! You can ignore it, unless you enjoy reading about fake Cajun festivals with lots of hype!

It is to a so-called "Cajun" festival that, sad to say, somebody is putting on
the same weekend as Isleton. I'd started to write something in response to the discussion of what happened to Isleton, rumors that there was going to be a festival. I just got wind of this one, was going to alert people that it is NOT the same thing at all...then decided, why even both talking about it. But I guess the website link remained, when I went on to do another post!


Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditional cajun music

John Roger has an apprentice right now with a couple of more coming on board soon and though he has only recently start his apprenticship program. More may apply.

Re: Traditional cajun music

Hi . . . I live right in the heart of Acadian country here in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada, although I'm not of Acadian background myself, all my friends are, I play my music to Acadian people, etc.

I'd like to know how much interest you have in this area where your ancestors came from. Do you ever talk about this place? Do you have any Acadian music?
Or did the deportation happen so long ago, that it's not important?

I suppose I could go on and on with questions but maybe that's enough to get my point across.

I look forward to hearing from you, with thanks.

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

Brett's all new Cajun Accordion Music Theory for all keys!

LFR1.gif - 1092 Bytes The April 2011 Dewey Balfa Cajun & Creole Heritage Week

augusta.gif - 6841 Bytes

Listen to Some GREAT Music While You Surf the Net!!
The BEST Radio Station on the Planet!