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Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco - World Music
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Early one sultry summer Saturday morning some 42 years ago, restless nine-year-old Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr., unable to stay in bed any longer, gingerly picked his way among some of his eleven sleeping brothers and sisters. Sleep? Who could sleep on a day like this? "Joe" made his way out to the porch of his family’s tiny two-room house at 233 Paul Breaux Avenue in the Truman Addition of Lafayette, Louisiana. Wiping the dew off an old stool, the youngster pulled it up to a dilapidated upright piano. His little fingers tinkled the keys, at last producing the sound that had been racing through his head all night…"ain’t that a shame…" Oh yeah, his idol, "The Fat Man," Fats Domino, was coming to town!
Later that day, he ran down to the Truman Court Motel (one of the only motels in town for blacks in 1957). He stood out front in the heat for an hour, two hours, more, waiting and gazing upon a sparkling, gorgeous pink Cadillac. It was as big as a battleship to his nine-year-old eyes. Suddenly the lobby door banged open, and amid the gruff laughter of men, Fats emerged. Little Joe rushed to the great automobile and deftly opened the door for its owner. "Hey, Mr. Domino," the awe-struck lad squeaked.
"Hi kid," came the low rumbling reply. That night little Joe slipped in the back entrance of The Jazz Room, just as he had so many times before, and watched from the shadows, transfixed by the power and spectacle of the great man’s performance – and the audience’s rapturous response.
Dural always knew that music would be his life, and memories like these form the core of the Buckwheat Zydeco story. Though his family called him Joe, he’d been dubbed "Buckwheat" by his pal Eddie Taylor because his hair looked like that of the Little Rascals character, and the nickname stayed with him, although today his friends usually call him "Buck" or Stan. Buck’s father was an accomplished accordion player. Stanley, Sr. played the old time music of the black French-speaking Creoles of southwestern Louisiana – some called it "la la" music or zodico or zydeco. It didn’t really have a name when his father was growing up. It was just music -- music meant for relaxation in the home, not to be played professionally in clubs.
Old-time zydeco was sung in Creole French, and relied only upon the accordion, a washboard, and perhaps drums. The term zydeco is believed to come from an idiomatic "Creolized" pronunciation of the French word for "the snap beans," "les haricots," from an old song, "Les Haricots Sont Pas Sale" (the snap beans aren’t salty). Zydeco developed into a hybrid genre blending Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles' white Louisiana neighbors.
But, Buck wanted no part of his father’s music. Just like kids everywhere, he loved contemporary music. His father punished him for playing popular songs on the piano – one time forbidding Buck from playing at all for a year. But father could never get son to quit loving and playing rhythm and blues. Even before his audience with Fats Domino, accomplices would sneak him into Lafayette clubs so he could climb on stage and play with the band. This same determination and passion are one of the keys to the success of Buckwheat Zydeco.
Soon Buck began working in bands like Sammy and the Untouchables and Little Buck and The Top Cats ("Little Buck" is Paul Senegal, the guitar player, who is also known as "Buckaroo"). With them he played keyboard behind Gulf Coast R&B and soul greats such as Barbara Lynn, Joe Tex, and Bobby Bland. Jerry Wexler once told me that the best soul band he ever saw was "Solomon Burke with a borrowed band." When Burke played in Lafayette, Buckwheat would play keyboard in that "borrowed band."



 
 
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