Louisiana is a little cauldron of creativity. Its just four million people make it closer in size to New Mexico than to big cities like New York and Los Angeles. In New Orleans, of course, jazz was born. New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta that begins and ends there are the primary springs from which Blues flowed. Louisiana is home to some of Rock and Roll's originals, like Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. These are the music forms America invented and is world revered for, but from Louisiana also comes Zydeco and Cajun music and their offshoots, born of French and Creole backgrounds and interminglings, that are not as well known, although the Zydeco band led by Buckwheat Zydeco has occasionally appeared on TV.
The drive through the southern part of Louisiana on I-10, or US 190 -- from Mobile through
Baton Rouge and then 20 miles on
raised pillars across the mighty Atchafayala Swamp and into Cajun Country's capital, Lafayette, where the TA truck stop just might be serving
crawfish etoufee, then on through Lake Charles and Beaumont, TX and into Houston -- is one of the most enjoyable drives I
know of. Turn on the radio and fiddle with the dial a bit, find the
little stations in between all the Clear Channel dreariness, and you'll
be treated to some of America's best, and some really original, music.
KPFT, the Houston Pacifica station, has two programs of Cajun and Zydeco music. Several years ago the record industry and a few rich musicians started freaking out about music file sharing over the internet and they've been able to strike the copyright infringement fear into the hearts of many radio stations that had been podcasting their shows -- which makes them easy to save on your computer -- and many stations quit podcasting music shows, although they still make them available as live streams, and hence, it is said, if you know what you're doing (I don't) still recordable.
Then there's KFAI, a little Minneapolis-St Paul community funded station which airs Louisiana Rythmns every week. They leave each of their two-hour-long programs on the show's web site for two weeks, during which you can save the entire show as an mp3 flie by left clicking on the (middle button - "listen now") feed. It's amazing.
I don't know why this situation still stands. I've wondered if it's the generous nature of the Southwest Louisiana musicians who record it, or maybe because those musicians sell lots of records in Minneapolis-St Paul and get lots of work there. The Louisiana Rythmns hosts give a weekly rundown of the Twin Cities' Cajun/Zydeco music scene and there are usually one or two Southwest Louisiana bands appearing in the area. There are even some local Minnesota groups playing that music. Strange.
The other night I was cruising into Holbrook listening to my KFAI download when a song by Bonsoir, Caitin, a Cajun girl (except for the drummer) band, came on. They aren't among the giants of the genre yet but there's some talented young musicians here, I'd say, particularly accordion player Kristi Guillory who wrote most of the songs on their latest album.