The Sounds of New Orleans: Cajun Music

While strolling down Bourbon Street in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, I could feel its rhythm right down to my toes.

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Oh, I heard everything from a lone alto sax to rock and roll. But through the cacophony of sound came a new genre that is now stuck in my head…

Zydeco!

Now street musicians have been busking their art for as long as there have been history books (probably longer). Zydeco on the other hand -a spicy blend of Cajun music, blues and R&B– evolved from the contact between the many different cultures that bustled around New Orleans in the 19th and 20th centuries, including Creole, French and African-American.

Mixing traditional instruments such as the percussionistic “washboard”, banjo, accordion (for a French feel), guitar, bass and Cajun fiddle, zydeco developed a style that could incorporate elements of country, soul, folk, ska, reggae, brass, hip hop and rock, to name a few.

The band you see in the picture is “Yes Ma’am”, a wandering band that captivated the streets of New Orleans this afternoon. Mixing street style comedy with their marketing for donations and CD sales, their extra percussion also consisted of an old suitcase -which doubled as the lead guitarist’s perch- and a front-desk bell, which they would stomp on at regular intervals.

Weight of the World“, my personal favorite of the numbers they played, alternated between mournful ballad and a clap-inducing dance break.

Take a listen for yourself and tell me what you think.

This is your friendly UIC Radio blogger, reporting live from her new favorite American city!

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