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Origins of Zydeco trace back to southwest Lousiana, just a rock's throw across the Texas border. I reside and grew up in the Beaumont area, on the Gulf Coast, a 30 minute drive from Louisiana. Zydeco was big in Lake Charles, and spread quickly to my area, with the musicians working in the refineries here in Port Arthur. From here the unique sounds of the Creole made its way to Houston, taking on a life of its own. The route between Lake Charles and Houston in time came to be known as the Zydeco Corridor.
First Day of Issue
October 25, 2002
NY, NY 10199
“What is zydeco music?” you may ask. You have probably heard it, but were unaware of what you were listening to. Remember the Popeye’s Chicken commercial? If you have been to the French Quarter in New Orleans, no doubt, you would have heard zydeco music blaring in the shops and on the streets. It has also played out in many movies, especially those with a Louisiana flavor. Zydeco is “Creole music,” a music known in an earlier era as “la-la music.” The birthplace of zydeco is central and southwest Louisiana. The French Creole speaking people of African descent, who historically lived on the prairies of southwest Louisiana are attributed with this style of dance music. Creole music was very similar to Cajun music prior to WWII. Its basic instruments are the accordion, electric guitar, bass, drums, and brass if the band is large enough. But the most distinctive instrument of zydeco is a corrugated metal rubboard. It seems that the term zydeco has several meanings, depending upon who you talk to. Some say it comes from the Creole saying “Les haricots ne sont pas sales, which, when spoken in the Louisiana Creole French, sounds like “leh-zy-dee-co nuh sohn pah salay.” This translates as “the snap beans aren’t salted”, something like - times are really hard if you don’t have salt for your beans, much less meat in the pot. Or it could mean, “I have no spicy news for you.” That’s just two of the possibilities that are circulating around the origin of the term. Featured on your cachet is Stanley Dural, Jr. who was born in Lafayette, Louisiana and goes by the stage name “Buckwheat Zydeco.” Buckwheat was a name he acquired as a kid because his hair made him look like the character Buckwheat from Our Gang/The Little Rascals.
Read the article in its entirety in the April 2015
Bevil newsletter, which accompanies the cover.
Take a trip
I wrestled with the topic for Louisiana for some time, almost choosing crawfish. Louisiana is the crawfish capitol of the world. Along the Gulf Coast we love our crawfish. Boiled, with potatoes, and spicy. When you're invited to a crawfish boil, you know you'll be nestling down with good friends, everyone rolling up their sleeves, puting on napkins and soon be diving into a huge personal pile of bright red, large crawdads.