Recommended books - Cajun music

Cajun MusicCajun Music: Its Origins and Development  

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by Barry Jean Ancelet
Paperback / Published 1989

The best source ever written dealing solely with Cajun music. Renowned folklorist and linguist Ancelet finds the roots of Cajun music in medieval Europe and the Afro-Caribbean isles, and demonstrates how these elements have impacted Cajun music in the 20th century. Ancelet also examines the lyrics of numerous Cajun songs, showing how they have reflected the changing realities of Cajun life. A definite read for anyone interested in delving beyond the surface of Cajun music and culture. 

Contains a dozen vintage B&W photos, a selected bibliography, and a reference discography.  58 pages.

Cajun Music by SavoyCajun Music: A Reflection of a People, Vol. 1  
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by Ann Allen Savoy
Paperback / Published 1984

Compiled by Cajun musician Ann Allen Savoy (wife of accordionist Marc Savoy), this weighty tome contains transcripts of interviews with numerous Cajun and black Creole musicians, sheet music with lyrics in French and English translation, discographies, and dozens of vintage photographs. An excellent companion to François' Yé Yaille Chère! (also available through this site), Savoy's compendium will help budding Cajun musicians to figure out those sometimes enigmatic lyrics and chord changes. But even non-musicians will be intrigued by the richness of the interviews and south Louisiana images. (Incidentally, there is no volume 2 at present.)

Contains several introductory essays on Cajun culture and music, discographies, accordion maker and record company contact information, bibliography, and separate song title and subject indices.  422 pages.

Cajun Music and ZydecoCajun Music and Zydeco
Photographs by Philip Gould
Hardcover    Click here for price or to order
(with companion CD)   Click here for price or to order
Published 1992

A great big coffee table book of excellent color photographs by south Louisiana visual artist Phillip Gould. Culled from ten years of the photographer's best music-related images, taken in rural dance halls and country festivals. Don't overlook the fascinating introduction by folklorist and linguist Barry Jean Ancelet. Compact disc of Cajun and zydeco music is optional.  120 pages.

Makers of Cajun MusicThe Makers of Cajun Music 
(Musiciens cadiens et créoles)
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by Barry Jean Ancelet
Hardcover / Published 1984
Printed in English with French translation

A most unusual book — written in English on one side of the page and in French on the other! A joint effort by folklorist and linguist Barry Jean Ancelet and photographer Elemore Morgan, Jr., The Makers of Cajun Music is a collection of biographical and photographic essays on several Cajun and black Creole musicians. Included are Nathan Abshire, the Balfa Brothers, Clifton Chenier, the Ardoin family, Dennis McGee, Inez Catalon, D. L. Menard, Michael Doucet, and Zachary Richard, among others. This is one of the few sources containing detailed biographical data on the heroes of Cajun and zydeco music. Ancelet based most of the sketches on his own interviews with the musicians, who are quoted throughout — and the photos constitute an invaluable documentary record (particularly since many of the featured musicians have passed away since the book's publication). Comes in a coffee-table format.  160 pages.

broven.jpg (5368 bytes)South to Louisiana 
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by John Broven
Paperback / Published 1987

One reviewer once aptly stated that South to Louisiana is the best single book for any lover of Acadiana's music to take to New Orleans Jazz Fest . . . and no doubt to Festivals Acadiens and the Zydeco Festival, too! A British researcher with a life-long appreciation for Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop music, Broven remains the only writer to examine all three genres in one volume. Organized according to genre, Broven presents his work in series of biographical sketches covering everyone from Cajun musicians like Joseph Falcon, Nathan Abshire, and Dewey Balfa; to zydeco musicians like Boozoo Chavis and Clifton Chenier; to swamp poppers like Johnnie Allan, Bobby Charles, and Warren Storm. Also includes a section on swamp blues. After nearly twenty years in print, it remains an essential part of any library on south Louisiana music and culture.

Contains map, over 100 B&W photos, a music timeline, biographical data, nightclub listing, historical band membership listing, details discographies of popular titles (including national chart listings), a recommended listening discography, bibliography, as well as separate song title and personal name indices.  368 pages.

Swamp PopSwamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Bluesby Shane K. Bernard
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Paperback  Click here for price or to order
Published 1996

Written by the editor of the Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture! Swamp pop music was invented by Cajun and black Creole teenagers in the 1950s and early '60s. The oft-forgotten sister genre of Cajun and zydeco music, it combined the region's traditional French folk music with modern rock 'n' roll and country-and-western elements to create a distinctly new genre. The sound reflected the rapid Americanization that south Louisiana youths were undergoing after World War II. Based on over 50 interviews with swamp pop musicians, promoters, and producers, this is the first volume dedicated to this frequently misunderstood musical form indigenous to rural and small-town south Louisiana. The author shows how traditional Cajun and black Creole culture and music influenced swamp pop, and through song lyrics demonstrates how swamp pop reflected the cultural landscape that created it and in which it evolved.

Contains map, over 25 B&W vintage photos, case studies of 10 swamp pop musicians, a timeline and discography, endnotes, bibliography, and separate song title and subject indices.  264 pages.

The Kingdom of ZydecoThe Kingdom of Zydeco 
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by Michael Tisserand
Hardcover / Published 1998

The first serious book dedicated solely to Zydeco, the music of south Louisiana's distinct black Creole community. This is the genre that took the world by storm beginning in the 1980s. Tisserand relies heavily on historical and folkloric research methods, yet he writes in a smooth journalistic style that makes the book both educational and captivating. A highlight is the author's inquiry into the mysterious death of legendary black Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin. Kingdom of Zydeco consists of detailed biographical sketches, which often are based on the author's own fact-finding expeditions into the world of rural zydeco nightclubs and country festivals. Tisserand's passion for the subject is evident throughout, making this a must-read for zydeco fans who want to know more than the latest dance moves.

Contains a map, numerous photographs, recommended recordings, select bibliography, nightclub listing, filmography, and personal name index.  382 pages.

Memories: A Pictorial History of South Louisiana Music, vol. 1 & 2 combined, 1920s - 1990s:   South Louisiana and East Texas Musicians

by Johnnie Allan
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Paperback Click here for price or to order

A must for fans of south Louisiana music — from the trinity of Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop, to swamp blues, rockabilly, and country-and-western music. John Allen Guillot, better known as musician Johnnie Allan, spent countless hours tracking down over a thousand vintage photographs of famous and not-so-famous musicians, and compiled them into this priceless collection. From Dennis McGee and Nathan Abshire, to Amédé Ardoin and Canray Fontenot, to Jivin’ Gene and King Karl, this is the ultimate pictorial source on the music of Cajun and Creole Louisiana.

Includes over one thousand black-and-white photographs, fourteen short essays and mini-discographies, and a name index. 307 pages.



by Ben Sandmel and Rick Olivier
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Ben Sandmel and Rick Olivier, well-known music afficionados from New Orleans, banded together to produce this excellent addition to the growing library on south Louisiana’s zydeco music. Sandmel and Olivier are known for their dynamic writing styles and in-depth knowledge of south Louisiana music; Olivier, sometimes called "Rico," is also an esteemed photographer, whose images adorn this latest volume in the critically acclaimed American-Made Music Series, published by University Press of Mississippi in a user-friendly style aimed at the general reading public, as well as scholars. An excellent companion to Michael Tisserand’s Kingdom of Zydeco and Philip Gould’s Cajun and Zydeco Music (also available on this website).   176 pages.

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