Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California: Modern by Mark F. DeWitt

By Mark F. DeWitt

Queen Ida. Danny Poullard. Documentary filmmaker Les clean. Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie documents. those are names which are primary to many fanatics of Cajun song and zydeco, they usually have another factor in common--longtime place of dwelling within the San Francisco Bay quarter. they're all a part of a colourful scene of dancing and dwell Louisiana-French song that has developed over a number of a long time. Cajun and Zydeco Dance track in Northern California strains how this quarter of California has been capable of improve and maintain dances numerous occasions every week with greater than a dozen bands. Description of this energetic neighborhood scene opens right into a dialogue of a number of historic traits that experience affected lifestyles and tune in Louisiana and the state. The publication portrays the variety of people that have come jointly to undertake Cajun and Creole dance song for you to deal with a globalized, media-saturated international. Ethnomusicologist Mark F. DeWitt innovatively weaves jointly interviews with musicians and dancers (some from Louisiana, a few not), research of renowned media, player commentary as a musician and dancer, and historic views from wartime black migration styles, the civil rights circulate, American people and blues revivals, California counterculture, and the increase of cultural tourism in "Cajun Country." In so doing, he unearths the multifaceted charm of celebrating lifestyles at the dance flooring, Louisiana-French type.

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Dances held in Catholic parish social halls were another. Fifty years or more prior to the event just described, immigrant Louisiana Creole families were inviting Music, Dance, and Social Capital 43 each other to house dances in and around San Francisco. In her autobiographical cookbook, Queen Ida supports the idea that Louisiana French music in California began in Creoles’ homes. Some time after her family’s arrival in 1947, she met accordionist John Semien, and through him the family entered a network of Creoles in San Francisco among whom music was an integral part of socializing: “The parties went from house to house, because we had started reaching out to the Texas and Louisiana people of our Creole background, people who knew about the music.

In all of the individual profiles, insiders and outsiders alike, I try to present sufficient context from the individual’s life so that the reader can gain some appreciation of what music means in that person’s life and how it is used. In editing these interviews for publication, I took some of my sensibility from ethnographic work—such as Crafts, Cavicchi, and Keil’s My Music and Tia DeNora’s Music in Everyday Life—where there is an attempt to make up for a lack, in DeNora’s words, of work “on how real people press music into action in particular social spaces and temporal settings” both as a “technology of the self ” and as a means of social order- Identity Issues, Research Methods, and Ethnography 39 ing.

But what of Louisiana? Surely the people whose families have lived there for generations do not feel like strangers in their own home state? Here is what Cajun historian Shane Bernard has to say about the uptick in interest in Cajun culture since the 1980s: 30 Identity Issues, Research Methods, and Ethnography The wild demand for south Louisiana cuisine heralded into existence a national Cajun craze. Beginning around 1980, this culinary phenomenon introduced the region’s delicacies to the world, but it also led to a rash of fake Cajun food products in grocery stores and restaurants.

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