The word Zydeco is derived from Afro-French music of Black Creoles in Cajun Southwest Louisiana. Zydeco is the popular spelling of les haricots, which means “Snapbeans” in Creole French; “Les haricots sont pas sales” loosely translated says, “Beans, but no salt;” Referring to hard times.
The roots of zydeco is in the mingling of blues, Caribbean, and Cajun styles…full of syncopated melodies…its old style creole music played on violin…mashed with an accordion and the infamous duel-use wash board. The movement of Zydeco is a fast paced two-step dance traditionally used for courting. The girl or guy is always two steps away just in case they are not particular to being courted by that person. And when the courting is over and that special someone is found then its time for the slowness of the blues as a prequel to or subsequent to the marriage…it is during this time you are allowed a moment to escape the hard times or the reality of life’s diversities. When the people of the Bayou hear the music they know its time to eat some food, taste the richness of the culture; Cool off with a snowcone or a “cold drink” (Soda) after a hard days “werk” (work). Red beans and rice; shrimp or crawfish etouffee; gumbo, jambalaya. Po Boy sandwiches made of hot sausages, shrimp, fish, or oysters…to them this is simple food because it includes the things commonly caught in the bayou, to others it is a delicacy. Those who are not from the Bayou are always welcome to come and learn a few words or phrases such as: Cuzan, “cousin” Cheriee, “babie” Jongle moi une fois par jour…”think of me once a day” or finally understanding the meaning of the words to that famous Patty Labelle’s song… While at the same time learning what the two-step is all about; It’s grown folks music because the grown ups understanding the meaning of the songs as they relate to the real world and the children because they don’t know much they are simply driven by the syncopated beat that pushes them towards what comes natural; the two-step. Every culture has their rap music born as voice of the current state of being….as for the Cajun and Creole society it’s songs are about the values of hard work and togetherness…a blend of French, Indian, African, and Spanish. The Long Beach Bayou Festival was a just that a celebration symbolizing a Creole and Cajun culture’s west coast revival as a whole. There were costumes, second line dancing, show and tell creatures for the children, clowning, good eating, great zydeco and blues music and most of all an environment of some good clean fun. See ya next year.. Essex Porter
photos by: KRPR Media