Local Wire

Buckwheat Zydeco

In the mid-'50s, while Sinatra swung and Elvis and Chuck Berry showed the world how to rock, black Louisianans of Cajun extraction — Clifton Chenier, for one — were plugging in and pumping crackling rhythm and blues into traditional Cajun dance music. The result was tagged "zydeco," an ebullient and infectious wallop of all-night party cadences. The mainstream wouldn't be really aware of it 'til the '80s, when Cajun cooking and the film The Big Easy made Americans hungry for flavors of the deep South. Then, Chenier and his immediate heir, Buckwheat Zydeco, got their turn at bat to teach the world a thing or three. Buckwheat (born Stanley Dural in Lafayette, Louisiana) rocks the buttons off his accordion (zydeco's main ax), his hearty voice exhorting one and all to grab a partner and take to the floor. No stuffy purist, BZ utilizes guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, and even synthesizer, drawing on blues, funk, and rock for his terpsichorean gumbo. (He even recorded a children's album, Choo Choo Boogaloo.) There's a saying that can be adapted to the case for Buckwheat Zydeco and bon temps rouler: Without the Buck, you're outta luck.