Old-School Rules

Wilfred Chevis provides the link between Clifton Chenier and the Zydeco Dots

Chevis, too, was able to grab ahold of the comet's tail. His song "Mona Lisa Keep On Dreamin'" earned a spot on As the World Turns. In 1986 he was named "King of Texas" by mayor Kathy Whitmire and police chief Lee Brown during an event at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

But when other bands jumped on the bandwagon, Chevis didn't view them with fear and loathing. Instead, he returned the favor that Chenier had granted him, and served as a mentor for Third Wave zydeco acts like Step Rideau and J. Paul Jr.

"I helped those guys and the Zydeco Dots," he says. "Just about every band that's playing started with me. But I don't see myself competing with any of those guys. I still don't think there's enough zydeco bands here in town."

Houston has been very, very good to Wilfred Chevis.
Houston has been very, very good to Wilfred Chevis.

Meanwhile, other acts like Lil' Brian Terry (see "Gare-on-teed Phat," by Roger Wood, November 18, 1999) have fused the genre with funk, hip-hop and other contemporary stylings. But Chevis stays old-school. Not that he minds innovation within such a traditional music. "The young generation loves what these other guys are doing," he says. "I stick to tradition. I've done so well with my style, I don't think I'll be changing anytime soon. I'm 56 years old, man. I can't be changing now."

Why bother? The guy was inducted into the Zydeco Hall of Fame ten years ago. He says the honor was the crowning achievement of his career. "When it happened, it was such a surprise," he says. "It happened so fast. They called, we talked, and then they did it. It's been the most important thing to me."

He's certainly not lacking for work, especially this time of year, when crawfish fests are popping up every other week. And he's putting the final touches on Zydeco Texas Style, his next record. Chevis is clearly enjoying life as one of Houston's premier zydeco men.

"Houston's been very good to me," he says. "You know what it is? It's the people, man. The people here have been very good to me. I love them. I play about five or six nights a week, and they've always been good to me. Maybe it's the music, or maybe it's me. I don't know. I play churches, festivals and parties. Whatever it is, this is one zydeco town, man."

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