I’ve reviewed a lot of Cajun/Zydeco albums in the past, and at some point I usually describe them just as I did in the early part of this sentence — combining them as Cajun/Zydeco. But it’s not just me. The people behind the Grammys recently announced a new category: Best Zydeco or Cajun Music.
But in spite of a tendency to lump them together, they are still different. Zydeco is generally described as being very similar to Cajun, but with the addition of influences from Creole music. And for those who don’t know, Creoles are usually defined as black and multi-racial descendants of French and Spanish immigrants.
Having said all that, the fact is that most South Louisiana musicians regularly feature all kinds of music no matter how they bill themselves, and Jeffery Broussard is a prime example of one of the best. Fronting his group, the Creole Cowboys, he’s bottled that diverse sound and created a new album, Keeping The Tradition Alive! (The exclamation mark is part of the title — just in case you thought I was getting overly excited.)
Broussard was recently named Accordionist Of The Year at the Zydeco Music And Creole Heritage awards, and there’s little doubt that he’s the star of the show anytime his band is on stage. With his colorful costumes and trademark toothpick always in place (even when singing), he’s a real crowd-pleaser.
I’ve included a video (at bottom) from a live show, with the band playing “Motor Dude Special,” which is one of the tunes on this album. That piece and others help make this album a nice mix of swamp music that’s impossible to resist, and if your toe doesn’t begin tapping then check your circulation — your foot must be asleep.
Broussard leads most tracks with his accordion and vocals, but he also picks up the fiddle once in a while. The music varies from traditional, such as “Why You Wanna Make Me Cry,” to the instrumental “Creole Zydeco Hot Step,” which – in spite of its name – is evocative of pure country music, complete with some brief bits of melodies you might recognize.
That track was my favorite on the album, but a tune that’s probably more representative of the album’s theme is the similarly-named but completely different “Creole Cowboy Two Step.” For this one, Broussard and his group take the traditional Louisiana dance piece and apply the band’s own Creole signature.
If you already enjoy South Louisiana swamp music, add this one to your collection. If this type of music is new to you but you’re ready to take the plunge, this album is a good place to start.
01- Off Time Zydeco (2:13)
02- Broussard Baisse Bas (3:42)
03- Richest Man (5:15)
04- Motor Dude Special (3:54)
05- Oh Ye Yaille (4:27)
06- My Baby Left Me (4:13)
07- Creole Zydeco Hot Step (2:38)
08- Dog Hill (3:10)
09- Why You Wanna Make Me Cry (4:44)
10- It Won’t Be Long (4:19)
11- Oh Mom (4:00)
12- My Baby Needs to Come Back Home (4:28)
13- Tribute to Amedee (1:35)
14- I Lost My Woman (3:35)
15- Creole Cowboy Two Step (3:14)
16- Johnny Billy Goat (2:29)
17- Make It to Me (2:52)