It’s the ultimate feel-good music from Louisiana Cajun and Creole country. Using the accordion as its featured instrument, Zydeco bands usually have someone playing drums and wearing a washboard vest called a frottoir. After these essentials, just about any other instruments might join in – fiddle, horns, guitars. Whatever the mix, the music is likely to be fast and fun.
Zydeco evolved from Creole music, played by blacks in rural Louisiana for generations. It’s become a mixture of several musical genres, including R&B, blues, jazz, and gospel. The term “Zydeco” became universally accepted as the name of this new style only in the 1950s, when the first recordings of the music were made. The style has grown slowly, and is still primarily a regional sound today.
The Grammy Awards have finally recognized the form’s popularity, and created a Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album category in 2007. (And then, in the great purge of 2011, eliminated this and 30 other categories.) The leading artist in the genre is Buckwheat Zydeco. Here are a couple of his videos that represent the fun and energy of this great American music: