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Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!







David Simpson



ISSUE 62 • MARCH 2018

4 Cajun Zydeco Dances in St. Pete Mar. 6 & 20 @ Caddy’s on Central

6 Dance For Plants in Gulfport

Friday, Mar. 2 @ Gulfport Casino

7 Zyde-Geck-OH Crawfish Boil in Gulfport, FL

Mar. 4 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. (RSVP 727-417-5494)

8 Porchdogs Tour Florida This Month

Deland, Davie, Naples, Winter Garden, and Winter Haven

9 Suncoast Blues Festival

Saturday, Mar. 3 @ Sarasota Fairgrounds

10 New Music from Keith Frank

Return of the King released in February

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

FEATURE STORIES 12 Massaging Your Dance Connection

Your dance connection is similar to how a massage therapist works.

17 CrawDebauchery Food and Music Festival

Saturday, Mar. 24 in Pompano Beach.

18 Houston Strong — A Zydeco Town in Recovery

Some of Houston's best zydeco artists: Brian Jack, Nooney, Jerome Batiste, J Paul Jr., Step Rideau, and Ruben Moreno


From 2018 listings at

54 Gumbo Boogie Band

Tampa Bay Area Florida Dance Parties

54 Dance Communities Outside of Florida

CZ dance opportunities outside Florida and Louisiana




First and Third Tuesday in Saint Petersburg, FL

Cajun Zydeco Dance at Caddy’s on Central 217 Central Ave., 33701 Tuesday, Mar. 6 Tuesday, Mar. 20

6 P. M . TO 9:30 P.M. Twice monthly Cajun and zydeco dance at Caddy’s on Central in downtown St. Pete. Good mix of danceable music by Cajun and zydeco artists singing about death, divorce, drinking and dancing. As Boozoo sang, “Dance all night, stay a little longer.” No cover charge. Caddy’s is at 217 Central Ave., St. Pete 33701. Visit for more information.

5 Photo by Jim Hance

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


Visit Contributed


Friday, Mar. 2, 2018 @ Gulfport Casino, Gulfport, FL

Dance For Plants

7 P. M. Carolina Shag Lesson with Renee Lipman 8–11 P.M. Open dancing to swing, shag, soul, zydeco and freestyle with DJ Cheryl Mogul of WMNF’s Saturday Soulful Soiree Event raises funds for Gulfport Community Garden. Silent raffle, free milkweed and other pollinator plants, garden experts available to answer gardening questions. Plant inspired costume contest. Tickets available in advance for $10 at check-in at Gulfport Casino. Gulfport Casino is located at 5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport, FL 33707. Info: George Zarillo, 845-242-7452.

7 Facebook

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018 @ 5225 15th Ave S., Gulfport, FL

Suzanne King’s 4th Annual Zyde-Geck-OH Crawfish Boil 1 P. M. TO 7 P.M. Featuring the Gulfport Swamp Opera & Friends! The food will be plentiful and the fun will flow. We’ll let loose and party, cuz’ the crawfish won’t know! Please bring a Cajun dish to share and whatever you care to drink. 5225 15th Ave S, Gulfport. Information. See event Facebook page for additional info, or call Suzanne King at cell 727-417-5494. Note: This is a private party, so please RSVP by calling Suzanne!

Visit Contributed


Porchdogs Cajun Zydeco Band Saturday, Mar. 3 @ “Night on Bourbon Street” (Deland, FL) Saturday, Mar. 10 @ Cajun Crawfish Boil (Davie, FL) Sunday, Mar. 18 @ Unity Church of Naples (Naples, FL) Friday, Mar. 30 @ Fridays on the Plaza (Winter Garden, FL) Saturday, Mar. 31 @ Tanner’s Zydeco Party (Winter Haven) Andy Burr and Greg Taillon formed Porchdogs in 1992, and add additional members like Harvey Rosenfeld (left above) to form larger bands to suit the occasion. More information on each of these performances is at

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018 @ Sarasota Fairgrounds

Suncoast Blues Festival

The 4th Annual Suncoast Blues Festival will be held March 3, 2018 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34237. The lineup includes James Armstrong, Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones, EG Kight, “Detroit’s Queen of the Blues” Thornetta Davis, Lurrie Bell, Monster Mike Welch, and the Mike Ledbetter Band. Laura Chavez, formerly guitarist with Candye Kane, is special guest. Tickets available at the gate for $45. On the day of the event, enter on the east side of the fairgrounds, on Pompano Avenue, then turn into the first gate behind Robarts Arena. Website:




New Music from Keith Frank Traditionally, zydeco music has been more about the pulsing tempo of the music, and less about the lyrics sung in either Creole French or English. Since Keith Frank began recording his own music in 1994, he has pushed his music with more complex story-telling lyrics and R&B and hip-hop styling. Keith says it marks a “more mature version of myself” that Return of the King showcases his versatility in transcending zydeco with an easy embrace of other genres. But there are plenty of danceable zydeco tunes here, most with a tempo of about 155 beats per minute. With Return of the King, Keith Frank continues in a spiritual and inspirational zydeco direction that began ten years ago with the album, Loved. Feared. Respected. And, Return of the King expands his experimentation with slower tempo R&B and hip-hop with his ensemble he calls “LA 26” (named for State Route 26 through Louisiana). Keith has also produced music under the name of Creole Connection that specializes in what Keith calls “Southern soul.” This is another great album of music by the zydeco king. 20-song album released on Feb. 7, 2018

Keith Frank has reduced his tour appearances to spend more time with his family. But you can catch him at Gator By The Bay in San Diego this May.

11 Photo of Keith Frank by David Simpson

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!



g Massagin Your Dance n Connectio By Brenda Armstrong

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Back step. Side step. Turn. Pause. Follow. Pivot. Lead. The magic of the dance is the invisible bond between lead and follow: the unspoken, sensual conversation of play and vitality. A weaving of music and movement, the partners become a single tapestry.





man can simply take a woman onto the dance floor and nudge and pull her around like a trained puppy. Or, while he is showing her where he wants her to go, how to turn, when to wait, he can be watching and feeling how she talks to him by the way she moves and responds. Such informative exchange allows them to sense how in-sync they are, to adjust to each other and to meld with the music. It is this connection creating the alchemical thrill of the dance that transports the partners to a brief moment when time melts away — when nothing exists but the flow, playfulness and oneness of harmonized sound, movement and expansion. Such non-verbal dialogue illuminates the soul, emanating from the heart. This is the joy of the dance. So it can be with massage. Rather than the idea of an active massage practitioner/therapist pushing and pulling, squeezing and forcing a passive or resistant clump of muscle, skin and bone for an hour or more, how much more satisfying to gain a sense of flow and good timing. To co-create. Try a new muscle pattern. Change a perspective. Experience yourself expanded and not alone. To be more comfortable in your own body.

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! The practitioner acts. The client responds. The client's body informs. The practitioner responds. In the dance, the leader acts. The follower responds. The follower informs. The leader responds. The leader might need to soften his lead, or strengthen his guidance, move around his partner, or give her more space.


o with massage. The skillful practitioner watches, feels and waits to see how the tissues will respond. Or not. The massage pracitioner asks herself (himself), “Can they be led or do they need to be let go momentarily to move on their own, turn around and come back to me?� With the dance, you came to enjoy moving to the music and discovered transcendent expression. With massage, you come to be free of your pain and suffering and find a new, uplifted way of being. All avid dancers know that enchanted moment of suspended time when perfect step, timing, flow and connection are all there is. The connection between leader and follower is seamless. This is the dance of massage: the mastery of the lead responding to the



Visit follower informing the lead and creating the dance together. Leaving the floor with that inspired elation that has no words is the spiritual experience we hope for: the reason we dance. Rising from the massage table, reconnected with ourselves, grounded yet uplifted and expanded, we experience the joy of the dance. We allow ourselves to partner with our own inner being, with the people close to us, with all that surrounds us. The music of life is the constant cycling ebb and flow of events, circumstances, thoughts, feelings, encounters. How we interpret them is our own unique dance. Far beyond the expected advantages of increased flexibility, removal of pain, better blood flow and the physical, recuperative power of massage, remembering and practicing moving to Brenda Armstrong is a nationally certified, Florida licensed this music in a timely manner is key to massage therapist. Her practhose deliciously surprising moments of tice, A Touch of Wellness, is lounspeakable knowing on the massage cated in Largo, Florida. She can be reached by email at brentable. When everything comes together, and makes sense.

and by phone at 727-265-0909.

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Sat., Mar. 24, 2018 @ Pompano Beach Community Park

CrawDebauchery Music Fest

Crawdebauchery Food and Music Festival at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. New Orleans comes to South Florida with more than 2 tons of crawfish & genuine New Orleans food and spirits. Festival features include Louisiana food vendors; giant kids zone and kids under 12 free; and Louisiana bands include The Struts and featuring Anders Osborne, Maggie Koerner, and a host of Louisiana bands. More info at








ords cannot describe the catastrophic situation that followed Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Southeast Texas. When daylight followed the storm, the scope of the devastation began to come into clearer focus. Quite obviously full recovery from the damage the storm and subsequent flooding left behind will take years. Houston has this nation’s fourth largest population. Houston covers a landmass of 1,600 square kilometers, compared to New Orleans’ 900, and is much more densely populated. The impermeable concrete jungle experienced major runoff during the storm, and that translates to high civil construction costs in roads, bridges, water, sewage and utility lines that are yet difficult to determine. Thousands of Houston residents were made homeless by the storm.

19 Houston Zydeco Fest Website

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Houston Zydeco Fest on April 7, 2018, billed as "Texas #1 zydeco event,"

will feature Lil' Nate and the Zydeco Big Tymers, Brian Jack & The Zydeco Gamblers, Lil' Jabb & The Zydeco Soldierz, Ruben Moreno & Zydeco Re-Evolution, and Keyun & The Zydeco Masters. Visit for information.

This issue is dedicated to the zydeco artists of Houston. Cajuns and Creoles have for generations traveled from Louisiana to Houston in search of economic opportunity, and took their music and their culture there too. The Houston zydeco culture is well established, and thanks to the trail ride traditions, zydeco has a strong following of Texas youth. How are zydeco artists recovering from the calamity left behind by Harvey? Let’s check in on them.



Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers


ydeco D.J. Lola Love calls Brian Jack a “really good friend.” He’s a family man who focuses a lot of his attention on his kids. When Lola sees Brian Jack at a festival, their conversation often doesn't include much talk about music. And recently some of Brian Jack’s attention has been making music and more about producing music and getting it distributed. Jack assisted Jerome Batiste in recording Funky Good Time album which has been selling well on iTunes. Brian Jack has distinguished himself from other zydeco artists by the guest musicians he has featured on his past CDs: jazz pianist and bandleader Joe Sample, blues harpist extraordinaire Kellie Rucker, hiphop artist Cupid, and fellow Houstonian J. Paul Jr. Brian Jack has a new CD out titled Jacked Up released in Nov. 2017. It turns out that Joe Sample had married into the extended Jack family, and was having problems using the new recording equipment he had. Brian used the same equipment and helped Joe figure out his equipment. Not knowing that Joe Sample was a jazz legend, he asked

21 Photo by David Simpson

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Brian Jack


Visit him to record a song with him. It was well after they made the recording that Brian Jack discovered Joe Sample had been the famed pianist and a founding memeber of the Jazz Crusaders. Brian confides, “If I had known that, I wouldn't have had the nerve to ask him.” Music was always a part of Brian Jack’s family life in Texas as he was growing up. A number of members of the Jack clan were skilled musicians, and the future recording artist was 13 when he decided to keep the family tradition alive by taking up the guitar. Time spent working with a band called the Zydeco Two-Step, an outfit led by one of his uncles, cemented his interest. He gave up the guitar in favor of the accordion when he was a high school student. Jack learned the accordion without any formal instruction and within three months pulled together a band of his own, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Two-Step. The lineup continued to shift for the next twelve months, and eventually the group evolved into Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers. Jack handles lead vocals and accordion. The band also includes his sibling, Eugene Jack Jr., who sings background and plays the drums, as well as bassist Anthony Rowell, guitarist Ben Black, and background singer and rubboard player Jody Lemelle. Jack and his band have appeared at numerous festivals in Louisiana, Texas, and Nevada, and also have performed in Washington and California. According to Brian Jack, “Beau Jocque was mainly the person that

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! was responsible for giving me the motivation to want to do this, because when I heard Beau Jocque play, I was not even into zydeco.” But Jack was already familiar with the music. “The zydeco came from my mom’s side, the Stoot family. Pierre Stoot [accordionist best known for his stint with the Zydeco Dots] is my first cousin.” “I really like the squeezebox, single-note accordions, over the pianostyle because it has more of a grungy sound to it. It just has a kick-ass sound to it. It’s raw.” Brian Jack & Zydeco Gamblers Discography: 1996 — It Won't Be Long (cassette) 2000 — Give Me Some Room 2001 — Once Again 2003 — Getting Down To Business 2004 — Zydeco Time (featured Ed Poullard on fiddle) 2005 — To Be Continued 2008 — Underdog 2010 — You Don't Know Jack 2012 — Bitch Betta Have My Money single 2013 — One Track Mind 2016 — We Won't Stop (feat. J. Paul Jr. and Mr. Eli) single 2017 — Jacked Up


Visit Photos from Nooney's Facebook Page


Nooney and the Zydeco Floaters

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! Frank Nooney Young went on his first trail ride in 1990 and loved it. There was horseback riding during the day, and a party at the campsite through the evening. Usually there was a zydeco band playing. The big influence for Nooney was Zydeco Force. Zydeco Force formed in 1988 and became a regional hit across Louisiana and East Texas. According to Herman Fuselier of the Daily Advertiser, Zydeco Force was one of the hot zydeco bands of the day with Boozoo Chavis, John Delafose, and Beau Jocque, ushering in a powerful “nouveau zydeco” sound. Nouveau zydeco seems to be defined differently by different people, but according to author Michael Tisserand, Zydeco Force “combined a Boozoo-style accordion with ’60s soul-style vocals.” Zydeco Force was best known for “Madeline” which founding member Jeffery Broussard includes in his stage performances today. Nooney says Zydeco Force had a more traditional approach to zydeco music without the R&B, pop and hip-hop stylings of other bands. In 1997 Nooney started to play and sing zydeco music himself in the style of Zydeco Force, and he has done so ever since. And he naturally covered some Zydeco Force material such as “Zydeco Extravaganza,” but gave it his own spin as in “Extravaganza Remix.”



Visit In 2000 Nooney and the Zydeco Floaters recorded The Dream, a CD that launched his career in music. The Dream was mostly original compositions but also covered Rockin’ Sidney’s “Mais Yeah Chere,” Boozoo’s “Deacon Jones,” and even George Benson’s “Breezin’.” The tunes were all about 4 minutes long, and their tempos are about 160 bpm, which means they are perfect for dancers. There is one slow tune, “Baby Tell Me What You Want,” for the nightclub two-step dancers and buckle-polishers. If you only had one zydeco record in your collection, The Dream would not be a bad choice. That is, if you can find it. Nooney came out with three more CDs in the early 2000s: We Bringing The Heat, That's Who We Be, and Bounce Back. These CDs include mostly original tunes and include an homage to Beau Jocque. Good dance tunes on these CDs, if you can find them. And Nooney's cover of Clifton Chenier’s “Hot Tamale Baby” is my all-time favorite. Chenier played this tune with a very fast tempo (200 bpm), and the more-famous version by Buckwheat Zydeco is a blazing 249 bpm. Nooney managed to slow it

27 Photos from Nooney's Facebook Page

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Frank Nooney Young


Visit down to a contemporary zydeco tempo of 170 bpm. I was not a fan of this tune until I heard Nooney’s version. Recently, in August of 2017, Nooney came out with an EP titled Love on the Run, a comeback release for Nooney available on iTunes. And he’s working on another album that he expects to release in the summer. Why the long break? “I was in prison,” says Nooney. “I’m not embarrassed about it. Everyone knows about it. I learned from it. It’s my testimony.” I asked Nooney how the Houston dance crowds have changed over the years. “Well, I do a lot of trail rides, and the rides attract a lot of young people. Before I would do a lot of church hall dances, but those are dying out. The trail rides are what attract a lot of the younger dancers.” Nooney says he intends to re-release some of those old albums too. “I lost a lot of stuff,” he said of the floods that followed Hurricane Harvey. It was tough on all of Houston, but life in Houston came back to relative “normal” after about three weeks, according to Nooney. One of the upbeat zydeco tunes from Nooney is “Don't Want to Be Without You” on the EP Love on the Run. And the entire EP reflects a positive new beginning for the artist. Check out Nooney’s Love on the Run on iTunes or, and be on the lookout for future releases from Nooney and the Zydeco Floaters. As Nooney sings in one of his tunes, “Here we come, baby.”

29 Photos from Nooney's Facebook Page

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Frank Nooney Young



Jerome Batiste & the Zydeko Players

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


he recent single by Jerome Batiste and the Zydeko Players titled “Creole Country Boy” is a pretty good description of Jerome. He started out riding bulls, and got close to making it his profession. Concerned friends and relatives intervened, and he decided instead to purchase an accordion. He started a band and released his first CD, Back Up Off Me, in 2000. And keeping with being a country boy, his gigs have mostly been playing at trail rides. Trail rides have become big business according to Jerome, and some of the trail rides are operating on the fringes of safety and the law. Jerome has gotten choosey about which ones he wants to play. Jerome had some assistance from Brian Jack in producing his most recent album, Funky Good Time. It has been selling well on iTunes. Jerome Batiste’s biggest influence has been Boozoo Chavis, who was actually a shirt-tail relative. Originally from Marksville, Louisiana Jerome Batiste and The Zydeko Players now hail from Crosby, Texas. Jerome Batiste can be found playing his distinct style of Zydeco in Houston, Texas and surrounding communities. There is more to come from Jerome Batiste and The Zydeko Players.






Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Paul Jr. and his band, the Zydeco Nubreedz, started to make their mark on the music scene not long after frontman J Paul Jr. pulled the band together in his native Houston in 1995. The original name considered for the band was The Regulators. According to J Paul Jr., “The name Nubreedz means something brand new (new breed and a new style of zydeco).” “I got started in the music business singing in church. My dad who is a pastor is my biggest influence who basically taught me everything I know. When musicians were unable to perform, I would be called upon as a stand in. I first learned to play the drums at the age of five, but I didn’t know music or zydeco would be my career move. I was originally introduced to zydeco through Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws. I played for his band for 3 ½ years, before I formed my own band, which has been around for 15 years now.” Three years later, he and the Nubreedz were named Best Newcomer of the Year and took home the Clifton Chenier Music Award. The artist grew up outside of Houston in the town of Conroe, the son of Bishop Paul Grant Sr. The elder Grant ran a recording




Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

studio that catered to gospel artists. When it was time for his son to put out Taking Over, his debut CD, the bishop helped with production duties, as he did on two more CDs by his son, Use Me Up and Another Level. The latter album helped Paul and the Nubreedz to win the Clifton Chenier Music Award, and it also helped win the title of Best Rubboard Player for the Nubreedz' “John John� Robinson. As word spread, Paul and his band went on to play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Paul started to sing in his father's church when he was five years old, and during this period he also took up the drums. His ability as a drummer led to his first job at age 21 with Step Rideau & the Zydeco



Visit Outlaws, playing stages in Louisiana and Texas for the next several years. During this time, Paul also took up the accordion. J. Paul Jr. also plays guitar and bass. Paul’s first recording, which was selfproduced, caught the ear of Mike Lachney, a producer, and Lachney became involved in the production work for the Maison de Soul Records release Taking Over. J Paul Jr. described his music as “for everyone…. For the younger generation, I have the hip-hop, and the song that impacted this generation and changed the game was ‘She’s So Lovely.’ This is where the generation crossed over. This song was performed with Wino-O, known as Nuwine in the Gospel community. For the older generation, I produce songs about life and relationships. For instance, my newest track, ‘Heads R Tails,’ is about flipping a coin to make decisions in life. Last, but not least, for my gospel fans, I have blended zydeco with gospel as well for my church audience.” J Paul Jr & the Zydeco Nubreedz have taken zydeco music & blended it with sounds of blues, R & B, Hip Hop, Gospel, etc. They have released 13 CDs & a live in-concert DVD. The Nubreedz have performed on stage with wide range of artists including Beau Jocque, Boozoo Chavis, Robin Thicke, Johnny Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Bobby Bluebland and Earth, Wind & Fire. Asked what advice he would give to someone starting out in the

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! music business, J Paul Jr. said, “Believe in yourself, your band, stay focused and don’t get off track. You also have to have your blinders on and don’t listen to other bands before you go on (laughing). Sometimes in this industry, we do the same music and it can be an intimidation factor, so don’t get off your game. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing, because it’s all about the fans anyway. Without them, we would not exist.” J Paul Jr. & Zydeco Nubreedz Discography: 1998 — Taking Over 1998 — Use Me Up 1999 — Another Level 2001 — Who Do You Love 2003 — The Rambo Experience 2005 — Deeper 2006 — Scorpio 2007 — The Classic 2007 — Diary of a Zydeco Rebel 2007 — Zeality 2009 — Stronger 2011 — Rebel IV Life 2014 — Uno 2015 — Numbered Muzik 2015 — Who Ya Daddy single 2015 — Pillow single




Step Rideau

& the Zydeco Outlaws


tephen Joseph “Step” Rideau was born in 1966 in the little St. Landry Parish town of LeBeau, Louisiana. Surrounded by Creole culture and zydeco music from infancy, it wasn’t until relocating to Houston in the mid-1980s that he began to play the accordion and eventually formed his own band. Today, Step Rideau is widely acknowledged worldwide as one of the living masters of the instrument. He’s also established himself over the the past two decades, the course of multiple recordings and festival appearances nationwide, as one of the most prolific and passionate zydeco recording artists, songwriters, and live performers across the globe. His first influence was listening to Boozoo Chavis, who sang songs about his real life: his wife, his ranch animals, his relatives, people with whom he has done business. Step has done a lot of farm work in his day, and his life has followed a similar path to Boozoo. For Step, zydeco music reflects his life and his music must be true to his values. “When I play, I always try to remind listeners, ‘why zydeco.’” It is important to have a positive message, and to bring

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Step Rideau


Photo by David Simpson


Visit people together with music. For Step Rideau, zydeco music should be family friendly. His first CD, “Here Comes Step Rideau,” came out in 1995 and featured another Houston artist on drums: J Paul Jr. Part of Rideau’s appeal is that he brings a true singer’s sensibility to zydeco, not just shouting out the lyrics but soulfully engaging with them to articulate the song, both in English and in Creole French. In that respect, he’s served well by his band of Outlaws, who provide not only fine instrumental accompaniment but also unusually rich and melodious backing vocal harmonies, especially in the case of long-time drummer, Jean-Paul Jolivette.

Collectively, these players make music that respects the art of the human voice in as much as it respects the driving rhythms, funky beats, and accordion riffs that make zydeco perhaps the ultimate dance soundtrack for people everywhere. “I’m looking for the hit,” Step said of his music. “If a song has the right chord structure, rhythm and lyrics, it will be a hit. People will dance to the song when it is performed and will want to buy it.” That is why he is concentrating more on producing singles than a whole CD. Not every song on a CD is likely to be a hit. Rideau reflects on the recent hurricane that devastated parts of Houston. “Things are slowly coming together, but the hurricane left some deep scars.” Step's home is back to normal but it will be some time before he gets the building where he ran his business back to where it was. “What took a lifetime to build will take a while to rebuild.”


Photo by David Simpson

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


Ruben Moreno & Zydeco Re-Evolution


ouston-raised Ruben Moreno is still in his 20s, but he has been touring and performing on stage and in recordings with zydeco legends for the past fifteen years. Leroy Thomas, Roy Carrier, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, CJ Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Andre Thierry, Geno Delafose and Jeffery Broussard, to drop a few names. He writes his own music — superbly well — which is infused with traditional zydeco, blues, country, brazilian and African beats and gospel chord changes, and he is a great storyteller and passionate about a lot of social issues. His childhood was spent in the company of his grandmother who owned a bar in the east part of Houston and her friends, many of whom were zydeco musicians. After picking up the washboard while still very young, Moreno’s musical turning point came when he performed on stage at age 10 with Leroy Thomas. It was an experience that inspired Moreno to focus his energy on becoming a performer, and subsequently led to tours with CJ Chenier and Andre Thierry. For Moreno, though, it’s about more than just the music. He sees



Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


Visit his career as a tool for making the world better, admiring Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bob Marley for using their talents to enable and encourage change. But he doesn’t let the heavy things get in the way of zydeco’s natural ability to make you feel good. His 2012 debut album Por Ti Volare is full of upbeat, syncopated rhythm and his own soulful voice, with universal themes of love and heartbreak.

CD Cover, 2015


ccording to a 2004 article in the Houston Chronicle by Daphne Rozen, by the time Ruben was 14 he had already played over 100 performances as the youngest member of Leroy Thomas and The Zydeco Roadrunners. He was first recruited by Leroy Thomas to join the band on stage on rubboards. “He's the first person I know who came into zydeco music not being shy,” Thomas said. “I think he [has always known] that’s what he wanted to do.” Then as an 8th grader, “Little Ruben” with his accordion, and with his science teacher Jerry Dearbonne on acoustic guitar, made their musical debut at his

middle school introducing students and teachers to zydeco music. To their utter amazement, the audience went wild. “They were going crazy,” said the 14-year-old Moreno. “The people in the bleachers were about to fall off.” Moreno was born into a family of musicians. His uncle Neto of Neto Perez & the Originals, a Houston Tejano group, and his uncle Mickey of Bon Ton Mickey and The Zydeco Hot Steppers, were regionally well-known musicians. From an early age, Moreno said he felt connected to zydeco more than any other musical genre. “I [play zydeco] because I like it that much,” he said. Leroy added at the time Moreno is definitely an up and coming zydeco musician. “He’s got a lot of rhythm and a lot of soul,” Thomas said. “He's got a lot of talent.” Ruben spent the past decade honing his craft touring with Leroy Thomas, C.J. Chenier, the late-great Roy Carrier, Jeffery Broussard and Andre Thierry in California. Ruben released his first solo recording, Por Ti Volare (For You I Will Fly) in 2012 which was

45 Jim Hance

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


Visit nominated for a zydeco music award, and a second album, Compliqué (Complicated) released in 2015 was also being praised by peers and audiences alike. According to the website, RubenMusik. com, Moreno is about to release a new album ostensibly to be titled Revolution in 3. Zydeco is a musical genre of the French Creole community in Louisiana that blends blues, R&B, Caribbean rhythms, and the indigenous Creole “lala” music with a distinctly different 8-count driving beat. One of the first zydeco artists was Clifton Chenier who gave it the name “zydeco” in the mid-1950s and made it famous around the world. At 14, Moreno said he also hoped to be a great musician like his role model, Clifton Chenier. “They say I play like I've been playing all my life,” Moreno said. “So I guess I play pretty fast.” “That's one thing I like about this music,” Moreno said. “Everyone’s always having a good time. (There’s) no fighting, no arguing, no nothing.”


he new vanguard of zydeco artists like Ruben Moreno are blending additional influences like hip-hop, soul, jazz, rock, folk and pop ingredients to move the genre in new directions with a different attitude. Ruben Moreno’s style is that of soulful

storyteller, and his music is sometimes reminiscent of doowop and early rock’n roll with a honky-tonk playfulness, all with a driving zydeco beat of course. Moreno sees zydeco continuing to push forward in so many ways. But what it’s really about, he says, is who influences the artist and how he expresses himself. Sometimes Moreno is questioned if he’s really playing zydeco. “They come up to me and they say ‘Oh no, that’s not zydeco. I have heard zydeco before,’” Moreno explains. “And I’ll ask them ‘Who are your zydeco idols?’ Oh well, they’ll say ‘Beau Jocque.’ Well okay, he took ’60s-’70s pop and funk hits and incorporated it into zydeco. How’s that any different? And the same with the King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. He was playing top 40s, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ella Fitzgerald and all types of swing and rock ’n’ roll hits on the accordion. It’s the same concept but a different era.”


Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!



Offbeat magazine writer Dan Willging wrote, if zydeco keeps pushing forward, Ruben Moreno will be one of the reasons why. Last year he and west coast zydeco phenom Andre Thierry, producer of Moreno’s first two albums, were involved in a pan-cultural collaborative project with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and the nonprofit Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy of Richmond, California to bridge the commonalities of zydeco and Latin music. Historically, the two cultures have paralleled each other. One of the songs, “You Will Cry,” sung by Moreno on the resultant Shades of

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!


Brown album, came by the way of Ry Cooder. “It has a great back story,” explains Eugene Rodriquez, Los Centzontles executive director. “This popular East Los Angeles singer named Little Julian Herrera, who was a real star in the neighborhood back then [the ’50s], recorded ‘You Will Cry’ and Ry had turned me onto that. Ruben sang it, and wow! Ruben is the reincarnation of Little Julian!” At the concert, Bonnie Raitt was in attendance, “All of a sudden, Ruben turns into superman. He comes alive onstage and he’s just a big ham all over the place dancing,” Rodriguez says. “Bonnie Raitt just went bananas. Wow! I thought. That was an interesting transformation.”


Visit And Rodriguez was amazed by how naturally the Creole music meshed with the sounds of traditional Mexican folk instruments like the requinto guitar and the quijada, a donkey's jawbone. “It just locked into place,” says Rodriguez. “We have the same traditions and the same values, the same background, experiences and history somewhat, you know,” Moreno explains about how the cultures are alike. “And the music is similar, the language, the expressions, the food, the fact that we celebrate and we dance and that is a big part of who we are in our culture.”


nd all of that ties in and brings us closer together. And that’s what I try to express through my music and live performances,” Moreno continues. “Playing in Houston where the whole crowd is mainly people of color, the one group is mainly African-American and Creole and the other is a mixed race of Latin background and they are all dancing the same and having a good dance high. It is a good time to come together and just really celebrate.” “I’m kind of building this bridge right here,” Moreno said. “I don’t know how it’s happening, but I am going with the flow. I’m not going to fight it, that’s for sure.” Performing at the major festivals in the United States and Europe,


Florida Cajun Zydeco Update!

Ruben attracted the attention of iconic Creole ambassador Buckwheat Zydeco. “I was captured by the sounds I was listening to, not knowing who it was on stage. I had no clue and it was amazing!" stated Grammy award-winning Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, after seeing him at a California festival. “Ruben’s music takes you to a different dimension. He is very versatile and that is what makes a professional.”



Festival-O-Rama! March 2018 March 22 through 24, 2018 Suwannee Spring Reunion (Live Oak, FL) Suwannee Spring Reunion 2018 features Donna The Buffalo, David Bromberg Quintet and more. For more information and to reserve camping, please visit

Mar. 24, 2018 Crawdebauchery Festival (Pompano Beach, FL) Bands include The Struts, Anders Osborn. Activities include krewe competition, gumbo rumble, kidzone, and artists displaying their work at the festival.

April 2018 April 4-8, 2018 Cycle Zydeco Bicycling Tour (Lafayette, LA) Bicycle, dine and dance your way through Acadiana. Website:

April 7, 2018 Houston Zydeco Festival (Houston) Bands include Brian Jack and The Zydeco Gamblers, Ruben Moreno and

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! the Zydeco Re-Evolution, and Lil' Nate and the Zydeco Big Tymers. For tickets and information, visit

April 12-15, 2018 French Quarter Festival (New Orleans) Bands and participating venues not yet posted. Website:

April 14, 2018 Waterway Village Zydeco Festival (Gulfshores, AL) Artists include Chubby Carrier, Corey Ledet, Dwayne Dopsie, and Sean Ardoin. Website:

Yes! You want to plan your trips to out-of-state festivals farther in advance. This is just a sampling. Many more festivals listed through end of 2018 at

Cajun Fiddler Sought for Gulfport Cajun Band Thursday. Mar. 8, 2018 — Cajun Music Performance (St. Petersburg) A Cajun band consisting of Steven Fernand (vocals, guitar and harmonica), Larry Enlow (accordion), Maureen Kilroy and a bassist will be performing at The Chattaway, 358 22nd Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 on Thursday, March 8 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Come on out and enjoy the great food and some great music performed by seasoned players. And bring your fiddle. The band seeks a fiddle player. For more information, contact Steven Fernand, 231-360-5344, or email



Visit Gumbo Boogie Band Sat. Mar. 10, 2018 — Gumbo Boogie (Treasure Island) 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Captain Bill’s Beach Kitchen, 145 107th Ave, Treasure Island, FL 33706. Website:

Sun. Mar. 18, 2018 — Gumbo Boogie (Bradenton) 5:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ace’s Live Music, 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton.

Sat. Mar. 31, 2018 — Gumbo Boogie (Treasure Island) 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Captain Bill’s Beach Kitchen, 145 107th Ave, Treasure Island, FL 33706. Website:

Outside Florida Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association Dance Sat., Mar. 3, 2018 — Zydeco Ya Ya Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30328. Phone: 404-613-4900. Check website for dance events in Atlanta area at

NYC Cajun Zydeco Events

Philadelphia Cajun Zydeco Events

Houston Cajun Zydeco Events

Southern California Events

Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! #62  
Florida Cajun Zydeco Update! #62  

Main feature story this issue is "Houston Strong," which includes brief stories on six distinct zydeco voices: Brian Jack, Frank Nooney You...