The good-timing virtues of properly energized zydeco music are nobody's secret, at least in this part of the country, and most everyone can list five or so regional practitioners they've seen at various clubs around town and someone or another's wedding, but when's the last time anyone added a new name to that list? There are roughly as many up-and-coming young zydeco bands making a bid for popular appeal as there are listenable songs on commercial radio, and I don't mean a whole lot. Beausoleil, of course, has the archivist and Cajun angles covered, and Terrence Simien and the Mallett Playboys had a decent little band going a few years back, before Simien descended into a Budweiser sponsorship and solo album flop, but for the most part, the young blood isn't flowing into zydeco.
That depressing state of affairs is plenty enough justification to give a listen to French Rockin' Boogie, the Rounder Records release and solo debut of 22-year-old Geno Delafose, a seasoned zydeco multi-instrumentalist hailing from the environs of Eunice, Louisiana. The listening, of course, justifies everything else.
Delafose got raised playing rub-board and drums in his daddy's band, John Delafose and the Eunice Playboys, and soon strapped on both diatonic and piano accordions to step out front of his own combo, opening for pops. You can hear young Geno's playing on his father's three Rounder recordings, and when the elder Delafose slipped into semi-retirement, Geno took over as bandleader of the still tremendously capable Eunice Playboys. He's a young traditionalist with a quick step and a musical learning that stems from his grandfather's generation, and he's also, happily enough, a budding songwriter in his own right, who's adding fresh and faithful tunes to the zydeco repertoire. He is, in short, a rising young star on the zydeco scene, if you can imagine such a thing, and it's your duty as a hot-blooded, foot-stompin', red beans-and-rice-lovin', mongrelized Gulf Coast American to get out there and support the boy. If, on the other hand, you think the bayou hasn't produced any good music since Rockin' Sydney's "My Toot Toot," stay home, 'cuz this is the real deal.
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Geno Delafose and the Eunice Playboys perform at 10 p.m., Saturday, September 3, at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, 10950 MLK Boulevard. Tickets cost $8. Call 734-0320 for info.
* Bluerunners at the Satellite Lounge, Thursday, September 1
* Mentors and Rusted Shut at Harvey's, Saturday, September 3
* Christine Albert at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Saturday, September 3
* Indigo Girls at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Saturday, September 3
* Steely Dan at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Sunday, September 4.