Geno Delafose &
French Rockin' Boogie,
Everbody's Dancin'
(Times Square, 2003)

Geno Delafose is the son of revered zydeco accordionist John Delafose, who died in 1994. Though only in his 30s, Geno has proved himself his father's equal as master of the uniquely South Louisiana genre that combines blues and r&b with Cajun rhythms.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Geno Delafose is committed to more traditional forms of the music, which -- in common with bluegrass -- is not so old as many assume, having come into its present form in the early to mid-1950s. It is, in other words, a modern folk music, and a fairly elastic one. Some young practitioners have brought rock, disco and hip-hop elements to the fore. The younger Delafose occasionally bows to country music (honky-tonker David Ball's "What Would You Want with His Love?") and mid-century African-American pop (Sam Cooke's "What a Wonderful World"). Mostly, though, he likes the traditional stuff, and by "traditional" I mean pretty literally that; there are four public-domain tunes here. The rest are at least in the tradition, including the late Rockin' Sidney's "Good Time Woman" along with his own accomplished, looking-backward compositions.

Rural Louisiana's wretched racial history long kept white and black musicians from playing together, but in recent years younger Cajun (white) and zydeco (black) performers have begun to share stages and to appear on each other's recordings. Delafose has an ear for the Cajun sounds and handles the standard "Belizaire Waltz" (associated with the accordion great Nathan Abshire, d. 1981) with aplomb, demonstrating how easily Cajun can be translated to zydeco, and vice versa. Just as happily, latter-day Cajun star and fiddler Michael Doucet, of BeauSoleil and more, is aboard for three engagingly jumpin' cuts.

Zydeco is first, last and always good-time dance music. It doesn't always make a successful transition to the recording studio. This one does. Zydeco is best experienced in a sweaty Louisiana dance club, but if you can't make it there, Everybody's Dancin', which will take the party to your living room, will do just fine.

- Rambles
written by Jerome Clark
published 16 July 2005

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