Given their focus on traditional music and waltzes, Cajun-zydeco festivals generally attract an older—though still cool—crowd. But if there is ever an opportunity to mix the young with the old, this year's Long Beach Bayou Festival will certainly be it.
Among those playing the festival are the Pine Leaf Boys, the youngest band ever signed to roots label Arhoolie Records. Featuring multi-instrumentalists Wilson Savoy, Cedric Watson, Jon Bertrand, Drew Simon and Blake Miller—all in their 20s—the band is attracting a new, youthful audience with its tasty brand of traditional Cajun and Creole music, rockin' two-steps, and robust Creole blues. And then there's 34-year-old Geno Delafose, whom the Boston Herald has touted as "the young hope of traditional zydeco." Backed by the rollicking French Rockin' Boogie, the versatile Geno (son of legendary zydeco player John Delafose) is as equally skilled playing the more traditional single- and triple-row diatonic button accordions as he is dishing up contemporary, blues-flavored zydeco on the piano squeezebox.
Still, for the purists, the bill also features two traditional Cajun acts whose histories represent all the richness of Southwestern Louisiana culture: Walter Mouton and the Savoy Family Cajun Band. Mouton, who plays weekly Saturday-night gigs at a dance hall in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, first formed a band, the Scott Playboys, in 1952—when he was only 13 years old; as for the Family Cajun Band, this "first family of Cajun culture" exquisitely renders a mixture of originals, popular dancehall tunes and early French ballads, all sharing the timeless sorrow and joys of everyday Cajun life.
Finally, there's Sunday's closing jam with Cajun supergroup the Louisiana Hot-Shots, featuring Ann Savoy, Geno Delafose, Walter Mouton, Keith Frank and Cedric Wilson. It's a sure bet to finish in style while satisfying all generations—enjoy La Danse de la Vie.
The 2006 Long Beach Bayou Festival at Queen Mary Events Park, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 427-8834; www.longbeachfestival.com. Fri., 5:30-10 p.m.; Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. $12-$20; children 9 and under, free. All proceeds benefit Long Beach Comprehensive Child Development.
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