"Imagine," writes Philip Gould, "a remote club nestled in a rural community that is barely on the map, where upon entering through worn screen doors one feels the flow of air from the wall-sized floor fans working hard to relieve the sultriness. Folks of all ages glide across a worn wooden dance floor as a Cajun or zydeco band belts out spirited two-steps and waltzes..." In this engaging book Gould takes us into the fascinating world of south Louisiana's celebrated musical cultures. Cajun Music and Zydeco contains more than one hundred color photographs of the performers, dance halls, and appreciative fans that have made the state's indigenous music a national, even worldwide, phenomenon.
The photographs span a period of some ten years. They include portraits of Cajun musicians like Zachary Richard, Dewey Balfa, Wayne Toups, Michael Doucet, and Steve Riley and such zydeco performers as Terrance Simien, the Ardoin family, Canray Fontenot, Boozoo Chavis, and the legendary Clifton Chenier. Gould photographs many of the venues in which these musicians have performed, including El Sid O's Club and Hamilton's Place, in Lafayette; La Poussiere and Mulate's, in Breaux Bridge; Smiley's Bayou Club, in Erath; Slim's Y Ki Ki, in Opelousas; and Tipitina's, in New Orleans—not to mention Carnegie Hall. He also shows throngs of music lovers at annual events such as the Zydeco Festival in Plaisance and Lafayette's Festival International de Louisiane. Many of the images reinforce the importance of family and community among the musicians, and others emphasize the sheer power the music holds over performers and listeners alike.
Philip Gould first came to Louisiana in 1974, just as the revival of Cajun music and zydeco was beginning to take shape. Indeed, one of his early assignments as a photographer for the Daily Iberian newspaper was to cover the first Tribute to Cajun Music, which was held in Lafayette on March 26, 1974. A driving force behind that magical event was Barry Jean Ancelet, whose informed Introduction to this book provides a brief history of Cajun music and zydeco. Ancelet describes the multivarious ethnic mix that contributed to the development of the two musics, outlines their waning popularity during the early years of this century, and celebrates their reenergized vitality since the mid-1970s. He provides a vivid description of the 1974 festival, which unexpectedly attracted more than twelve thousand spectators. It proved to be a watershed in the renaissance not only of Cajun music and zydeco but of Cajun and Creole culture in general.
Deeply rooted in the unique world of south Louisiana, Cajun music and zydeco are an important part of the American folk tradition. This beautiful book is a fitting tribute to their enduring appeal.
Philip Gould is a freelance documentary/architecture photographer born in Massachusetts and raised in California’s Bay Area who has made Louisiana his home and favorite subject since 1974. His photographs have been published in over a dozen books as well as periodicals from around the world.
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