Zydeco highlights Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014

Feb. 18, 2014 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
Buckwheat Zydeco to perform in a four-island concert tour for Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Buckwheat Zydeco will perform a four-island concert tour for Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014. (Courtesy photo)

BY STEFANIE NAKASONE / snakasone@staradvertiser.com

If you’re heading to Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014 on Thursday, just be warned: Wear proper footwear.

“When we get there, Buckwheat Zydeco and C.J. Chenier, just have everybody bring two pairs of shoes. You might just burn one pair out,” Zydeco said from his home in Carencro, La., last week. “We’re coming to party with you.”

MARDI GRAS HAWAII 2014

Presented by Lazar Bear Productions

» Where: Pomaikai Ballrooms, Dole Cannery, 735 Iwilei Road
» When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
» Cost: $40, $60
» Info: lazarbear.com, (808) 896-4845
» Note: Additional performances on Hawaii island, Feb. 21; Maui, Feb. 22; and Kauai, Feb. 23

It will be a party filled with the sounds of southern Louisiana as Zydeco and Chenier perform in Hawaii for the first time in years. Both veteran zydeco musicians couldn’t remember how long it’s been since they last performed here (Chenier said he thinks his most recent shows here might have been in the ’90s). They’re looking forward to returning.

“I’ve been waiting to get back there and spread some zydeco love,” Chenier said as he was en route from Houston to New York on tour last week.

For those unfamiliar with zydeco, it is an upbeat style of music that originated in the 1950s among the Creole population of southwestern Louisiana. The music is most commonly associated with the piano accordion and corrugated metal washboard, or frottoir.

“The beat and the energy of the music, it’s just party music, happy music,” Zydeco said. “You got no business being sad. You come to the zydeco, if you don’t move something, something’s wrong with you. Check your doctor.”

“It’s just feel-good, do-good, dance-how-you-feel-like-dancing type of music,” Chenier said. “It’s so free, it makes people feel free.”

Zydeco is also a type of music that is deeply ingrained in the culture of the area.

“It’s culture. It’s roots. It’s your identity,” Zydeco said. “That’s what you want to share with the people.”

C.J. Chenier to perform in a four-island concert tour for Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014. (Courtesy photo)

C.J. Chenier will perform in a four-island concert tour for Mardi Gras Hawaii 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Both Zydeco and Chenier got their start thanks to Chenier’s father, the “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier. The elder Chenier, who died in 1987, was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last month.

“My father’s the main reason why I’m doing what I am now,” said Chenier, who took over his father’s Red Hot Louisiana Band. “The town I grew up in (Port Arthur, Texas), it was not that musical. Luckily my dad was in the business; he came and got me out of that little town.”

Zydeco (born Stanley Dural Jr.) started out playing other types of music “like heavy R&B, funk music” before meeting Clifton Chenier. He joined Chenier’s band in 1976, playing the organ. But Zydeco was so inspired by Chenier, he learned to play the accordion and before long decided to branch out on his own.

It was during his time with Chenier that he met C.J., who was just a teenager.

“We hit it off right off the bat,” Zydeco said. “He’s a great musician, very talented.”

Separately they both tour regularly — last week Zydeco jammed with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots to open the final episode of “Late Night.” But sometimes they cross paths at jazz festivals or events like Mardi Gras Hawaii, a four-island concert tour that will also raise money for the 36th annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk.

“When we do meet up,” Zydeco said, “we always have a fun time.”

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