Books

Texas Zydeco, In Five Indelible Images

One of Rocks Off's main resolutions most years is to both see more zydeco and write about it more often. Unfortunately, we don't get out to the country as often as we should, and no one ever seems to want to give us a ride to Jax Grill on Friday evenings. We have to remind ourselves to check the excellent Zydeco Events Web site from time to time, too.

Ironically for about the only kind of music not represented at Summer Fest this weekend, zydeco is the one genre Houston can lay the most claim to. When the Creoles of Southeast Texas and Southwestern Louisiana moved to the Bayou City for work in the first half of the last century, they brought their lively, accordion-fueled dance music with them, and roughed it up with the blues and R&B pumping out of Third Ward and Fifth Ward juke joints - making Houston's relationship with zydeco analagous to Chicago's with the blues.

This evening, author Dr. Roger Wood and photographer James Fraher will be at the Museum of Printing History's opening reception for Texas Zydeco, an exhibit featuring 40 of Fraher's photographs from the duo's 2006 book of the same name. Saturday, the action shifts to Miller Outdoor Theatre for the 22nd annual Accordion Kings & Queens festival, featuring Houston zydeco shuffler Corey Ledet alongside Denton's Brave Combo and conjunto group Mickey y Sus Carnales.

Rocks Off asked Wood to send us a few of Fraher's photos from the new exhibit, and a little background from each one. Enjoy.

That's the able hand of one of the old-timers, Dan Rubit, on the accordion. Like countless players of his generation, Mr. Rubit followed the lead of the King of Zydeco, playing the larger, more versatile piano-key accordion just like Clifton Chenier. Because this type of instrument is fully chromatic - i.e. can play in any key, unlike the smaller button-key instruments that pay in fixed intervals - it allowed players like Chenier and Rubit to jam more readily with blues bands, a key phenomenon in the evolution of modern zydeco.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray