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Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

During this left arm recovery thing, it has been hard not playing accordion. So, I brought out my electric keyboard with a million and one differant synth sounds, just to keep from going nuts ya see. It is sort'a fun adding a churchy pipe organ vibe sound to Jesse Lege's "D" vocals knowing ....(well never mind). Hey Reverend JP in Tucson land, you picking up on this??


This has caused me to wonder about uncommon instruments/sounds that wind up in the mix of French music.

DP (Dana) is tied to a band called Gator Beat besides his one thing (fronting on accordion in place of the late Richard Dominque).
This band has Sax and Pennywhistle.
Richard in the last years incorporated keyboards along with his accordion and it has been pretty dandy for a contemporary shift with a neuvo Zydeco thing going on.

I think Reverend JP plays some fashion of 5 string banjo beyond other instruments (Yes/No?).

Any Dobro or Steel? How about Mandolin? Harp? Harmonica? Washtub bass? 5 string banjo?

What's the word ?

Anyone seen and/or heard this stuff mixed in (or more)?? Tell it.

Nonc D

Re: Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

I have heard sax, banjo, and harmonica. I'm sure there are several others, my dad probably has heard some. The banjo I heard on my new cd "Les Haricots Sont Pas Salé" by Terry Bertrand playing with the Balfa's. I have a cajun recording somewhere by I dont remember who that has a sax in the group.

When I was a kid my dad used to play guitar with a friend of his when we got together for a viellée. His friend played a 2 row harmonica and played and sang "Chere Mom" in a way that gave the frissons to even a young kid like me. Much better than any recording I have ever heard.

Bryan Lafleur

Re: Re: Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

I don't know if this really applies or not...
Not sure if you squeeze-guys would have a need for it....

I've been teaching myself open-tuned slide guitar for the past year or so. ( metal-body guitar)
Its a pretty forgiving form of music and you can get some decent sounds out of it with a little work.

Anyway....the really old blues guys used to flip over a wooden apple-crate and use it as a stomp box. If it were placed right...it amplifies the foot-tapping they were doing and gave them a little percussion.
There are some companies that actually make expensive stomp boxes...but whats the fun in that?
Plus thats not in the spirit of the music.

I took a piece of plywood...about 18"x 9". put on two smaller strips of wood on the bottom to sort of make legs. ( think of a breakfast tray-looking thing )
Then I hot-glued a $9.00 radio shack mic on the bottom.
I plug this thing in when I play slide and it sounds great. You can damp it or even add things to it.
I sometimes will just throw my keys on a corner when I'm playing to give a different sound.

Re: Re: Re: Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

I always thought that a metal body slide guitar would sound good with a cajun accordion though I never had the chance to try it. Just can't believe it would sound anything but great. Sure would like to hear it. Keep on going with it Mike. Keep in mind that many bands used the pedal steel which I find only ok. IMHO!!

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New comer to the forum... playing Accordion for 20 years or so. If ya'll want to check out some cool bluescajunfunkstuff @ the festival this week. Friday 5:45P.M. Michael Juan Nunez from Erath, LA Check out his website.

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Off subject again....but I have to do that because I have nothing really valid to contribute to cajun accordians yet !

Anyway...I like figuring things out and making things...sometimes more than the actual using of them when they are complete.
Couple years ago I started reading and researching old blues instruments and what even came before them.
Tried to duplicate some of it.
I wrapped and burned wine bottles...cracking them on cement to get slides...Made guitars out of 2x4's and wire and cigar boxes .sometimes with a can or tub attached for resonance. I tried to duplicate whatever they did with just the tools they had available

Had some limited success...but the coolest part was appreciating what these old guys had to work with. Mostly becasue of lack of money, they had to make what they could. And then make music with it.

Not sure if it applies to cajun music...but when I see a guy scrapping a metal washboard ... I gotta believe it has a lot in common.

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Since I am a big fan of the old Mississipppi Delta blues I have to believe you had a lot of fun with your expierments. I just love the sound of those old metal body resonator guitars and believe that they would sound good with a cajun accordion. The scruboard is a zydeco music thing however.

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I use a wooden body resonator guitar as rythm guitar in our band. It gives the rythm a good punch and sounds good along with the accordion. You may listen to a few examples in the link above.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

Sounds like a good learning experience. A couple winters ago I found a a hollow, round, oak burl while I was cutting wood. I put it off to the side, thinking "I might want to make something outta that".
I ended up fashoning a "neck" and inserting it into the burl, then I streached baby goat hide over the open side, carved a little bridge, put on strings (I used tuning pegs from a broken guitar I came accross". Presto! Banjo! I don't play banjo but I have had fun playing around with it. Also play it in an open tuning w/ a slide for some really funky sounds. I find this instrument to be a winter time instrument, as the natural hide gets nice & tight when in the same room as the wood stove (kitchen). In the summertime, the high humidity loosens up the hide quite a bit, & the instrument reminds me of thumping on wet cardboard. I suppose warming it up over a candle or something before playing would take care of this. ---Tommee

Re: Uncommon instruments in Cajun/CZ - where accordion is King

Nonc D
I bet you remember Lois Hornbostle (sp?) playing mountain dulcimer at many Augusta jams. She sometimes even brings a little battery operated amp. I recall she might have even played with Jesse in a little workshop or concert. She's a great dulcimer player and she loves the Cajun music!


Hey Doc Gene

Gene... Yes I do remember Lois... in fact if I am not mistaken she was spotlighted at the Augusta Concert and made her second home on the porch during the evening jams sessions... an interesting instrument and a grand lady that had her instrument mastered.

I think many of the local musicians that were indigenous to the areas of W.V. were pretty interested in the Cajun Week ... many, out of couriosity for the style of music that took place... it's good to see some cross-over musicians join in.

Another person that was interesting was a guy that did some sort of rhythm stomp box / wooden platform thing that he sorta tap danced on while sitting in a chair.... he hanged more towards the old time music.

Gene.. as I recall you also play stand up Bass beyond accordion and guitar..right? I enjoy the low thumping vibrance of acoustic bass, it's cool. Have you ever experimented with a one string wash tub bass?

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

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

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