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1 24Southwestern Historical QuarterlyJuly There is pride ofschool on every page while agreat love ofthe university permeates the entire volume. Anyone reading this book will come to die conclusion that Texas has good reason to be proud of Abilene Christian University. Moreover, anyone affiliated with ACU will have good reason to be proud of this volume. Austin CollegeLight Townsend Cummins Texas Zydeco. By Roger Wood, photography byJames Fraher. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. Pp. 343. Illustrations, appendix, bibliography, index. ISBN 0292712588. $34.95, cloth.) Awelcome perspective on a musical genre usuaUyUnked exclusively to Louisiana, Texas Zydecoappears in theJack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture and in the Brad and Michèle Moore Roots Music Series. As we know, the term "Zydeco" derives from the creolized French word "haricots" in the sentence "les haricoh sontpas sales", which means the "snap beans are not salted," an ongoing statement in many Cajun songs from the early twentieth century. But as folk expert Mack McCormick often said, Zydeco could also mean a dance party, a gathering ofpeople for such a dance, and notjust a musical genre emerging from Louisiana. In this lavish book, Roger Wood introduces some of the cultural dimensions ofZydeco music and its recent tradition, especially in selected dance halls in Texas. The author focuses mainly on the African American dimension of Cajun culture and heritage, taking from the numerous interviews that he had made with many Zydeco fans, musicians, and club owners, mosdy in Texas. However, since this is a publication from a serious university press, I was surprised not to see much analysis of the French significance and tradition brought in this Cajun music, for instance in terms ofintercultural or even in an Adantic studies perspective. In my view, this French element remains central to the study of these Southern cultures. In his introduction, Wood merely acknowledges the fact that in Zydeco music, "the vocalizing may be English or French, though the latter grows less common with each generation of players. But this music has one priority far more compelling than linguistics or lyrics: it makes you want to dance" (p. 2). However, the problem of die disappearance ofFrench culture in the southern United States is best illustrated here by the case ofChris Ardoin, born in 1 980, who is a singer-musician who cannot understand French, although he mainly sings in Creole (p. 42). A kind ofa central figure in this book is die spirit and legacy ofthe famous musician Clifton Chénier (1925-1987), nicknamed the King of Zydeco or sometimes the King of the bayou. Many persons interviewed here give their own memories and anecdotes about the famous accordion player from Lafayette, especially in the second half of the book. Singer and accordion player Clifton Chénier is the musician who brought Zydeco music outside its regional borders to an international audience, from the early 1970s. The wonderful full-page black-and-white photographs taken byJames Fraher are mosdy from 2004; so, there are no archival images from the twentieth century, even though many musicians shown here have surely crossed many decades. Some 2007Book Reviews125 CD titles are mentioned here and there through the pages, but there is no discography —just a bibliography plus an index. Another problem is that many books are quoted by Wood, but I do not see die page numbers anywhere in the references (see for instance the citations taken from TheNew Handbook ofTexas, pp. 66-67) . fn sum, Texas Zydeco illustrates current Zydeco culture and its legacy as they appear in the early twenty-first century: still living, but also changing from its founding French tradition into a more standardized, commercial music linked in its rural roots. For all these reasons, I believe Texas Zydeco should not be seen as an entry door to the history ofZydeco music or Cajun heritage; however, this accessible book is written (and illustrated) by two passionate lovers of Southern music and will confirm that Zydeco music is still alive in Texas and elsewhere. Québec CityYves Laberge Elias Cornelius Boudinot: A Life on the Cherokee Border. ByJames W. Parins. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. Pp. 262. Acknowledgments, illustrations, notes, bibliography...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 124-125
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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