Il avait des richess de cœur,
L'est né pour jouer son accordéon
L'a donné la chemis' de son dos
C'était un grand bonhomm', monsieur [Buckwheat Zydeco]

—Michael Doucet (final flourish mine)—from "Freeman's Zydeco". Original "grand bonhomm'" is "Freeman Fontenot". My translation:

He has riches of the heart
He was born to play his accordion
He's given away the shirt on his back
He's a great free spirit, Mr. Buckwheat Zydeco

Hé toi! (that's Cajun, not French, y'all)

Last night Lori and I went to Buckwheat Zydeco at the Boulder Theater. Yes yes Lori is over eight months pregnant, but when did that sort of thing ever stop her from doing anything? As soon as we got to the theater, we were a bit dismayed. I've never had a problem with the mass of Boulder's grey hippies, but it was immediately apparent that there wouldn't be all that much atmosphere with the crowd we saw. Buckwheat was one of the first concert Lori and I went to, in Milwaukee, (after Digable Planets, though) and we danced our ever-loving asses off. Catching him at New Orleans Jazz Fest in 1996 was also a big treat (you gotta love it when Wayne Toups and the ZydeCajuns are the opening act). Boulder 2005 was clearly not going to be epic. A much smaller and older crowd than, say, Zap Mama at the same venue. It didn't help that I'd played soccer twice yesterday and I was feeling a bit fagged.

Things did quite look up when I went to get Lori some water and ran into our friend Lynette. Lynette, you see, is all Cajun, and you don't have to know her last name's Hebert to figure that out. In earlier encounters she taught me a few variations on the Zydeco two-step. I'd already learned the basics by watching the very impressively two-stepping crowd at N.O. Jazz Fest. (You don't get far in the social graces of a Nigerian university without being able to pick up even fairly complex dance steps fairly quickly). Anyway, Lynette and her friend joined us at the front, and that added considerably to the energy as Lori, Lynette and I threw out some two-step variations (OK, really Lynette and I: Lori was dancing as best one can bien enceinte) and responded loudly to Buckwheat's Cajun muttering.

Ça marche! ça marche!
Yeah! Ça roule, Buckwheat! Bien sûr!
Nous sommes partis!
Avec vous! Au Bayou!

The set was heavy on songs from the band's newest CD Jackpot!. The new songs are very good, but It's too bad he didn't get to play some of his classic repertoire such as "Ya Ya", "Hey Good Looking" and especially the Chenier classic "Hot Tamale Baby". Still, it was fun in the end. Buckwheat, as always, played the accordion as if he had twenty fingers. If you haven't gone to a Buckwheat concert, I highly recommend it, while you can—the great man is not getting any younger by any means (though Lori tells me the man on the frottoir (washboard and spoons) is his son, and Lynette surmised that the drummer might be, as well—p'raps breeding will out?). Everyone can do with a little glimpse of the Bayou in their life.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia
2 responses
Must be all that western living.  I saw plenty of grey hippies (not me, I'm a tad too young) dancing their asses off at Clearwater on Father's Day weekend.
To be fair, there were a lot of them dancing, but there were more than enough not dancing, even in the front, to douse the mood a bit.  Also, I really miss the feel of an entire crowd Zydeco jitterbugging almost in unison.  N.O. Jazz Fest was the best example of that by far, but Milwaukee seems to have Boulder beat for Zydesoul.