YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Festival Schedules Strike Sour Note : Music: The traditional American styles of Cajun and zydeco will be featured in Long Beach; the Troubadours of Folk program will be at UCLA the same weekend in June.


Two major festivals will offer one-stop access to dozens of folk, country, Cajun, zydeco and other traditional American musicians next month. Trouble is, listeners will be forced to choose: the Troubadours of Folk festival at UCLA and the 7th Annual Cajun & Zydeco Festival in Long Beach are booked on the same weekend.

"I'm not happy about that," said Ted Myers, A&R coordinator for Rhino Records, one of the sponsors of the June 5-6 Troubadours festival. "I was misinformed. Somebody told me the Cajun-zydeco festival was held on the last weekend in May. So when we were deciding on dates for Troubadours of Folk, I said, 'Great, we'll be the week after.'

"Stupidly on my part," Myers continued, "I took somebody's word and never checked. It was a complete accident. . . . The Cajun-zydeco event is one of my favorite events all year, and I've been going last three or four years. We never intended to be competing with them."

Troubadours of Folk will feature such veterans and relative newcomers as Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, John Prine, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, John Hammond, Peter, Paul & Mary, Odetta and Syd Straw.

Topping the lineup for the Cajun-zydeco festival, about 30 miles southeast of UCLA, will be C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys plus festival first-timers Sheryl Cormier and the Iguanas.

Michael Doucet & Beausoleil, a leading Cajun band that has played the Cajun-zydeco festival several times since its inception in 1987, will play the Troubadours festival instead this year. A Rhino Records act, Beausoleil will play on its own and behind Mary-Chapin Carpenter on her Cajun-ized breakthrough hit "Down at the Twist & Shout."

But "there are no other Cajun-zydeco artists at the folk festival," Myers said. "I think the audiences (for the two festivals) have similar demographics, but there are a lot of hard-core Cajun-zydeco fans who go to that festival every year--5,000 or 6,000 of them, I believe--come hell or high water. I don't think our audience is going to cut into theirs."

"I think we're looking at two different audiences," agreed Chuck Wentworth, production manager for the Cajun-zydeco festival, by phone from his office in Wakefield, R.I. Wentworth also agreed that the timing is unfortunate, but "we're established, we're in our seventh year and we've developed a good core audience."

Myers said that in any case, advance response to Troubadours of Folk has been good enough that "I think we're going to do real well and that we'll be able to make it an annual event." But if the folk fest does return, Myers vowed that the scheduling snafu will not.

"I'm sorry if I've created a dilemma for any fans," he said. "It won't happen again. I've spoken to (Cajun-zydeco festival promoters), and we're on good terms. We're going to coordinate on dates in the future."

Among the Cajun-zydeco festival lineup, Chenier and Delafose lead two of the today's top zydeco bands, and Riley is a young Cajun accordionist and fiddler considered one of the bright stars of traditional southwestern Louisiana music. All three acts will play both days.

Festival newcomer Cormier is one of the few female accordionists in Cajun music. She and her band, Cajun Sounds, will play June 6. The Iguanas, playing June 5, are an eclectic New Orleans bar band whose music incorporates not only Cajun and zydeco influences but Latin jazz, Tex-Mex and Caribbean touches as well.

The Southland will be represented by L.A.'s Joe Simien & the Country Boys (June 5) and the Brand-New Old Time Cajun Band, a new group formed by former members of the Louisiana Cajun Trio fronted by accordionist Charles Boulet, a Sulphur, La., native now living in Bakersfield (June 6).

While groups are performing, others will be conducting workshops on various aspects of Cajun-zydeco music and culture.

"We're moving the location of the workshops further away from the stage this year," Wentworth said. "They'll be in a more secluded area, so there will not be too much sound bleed-over.

"With the people we have," he said, "we should be able to get a variety of interesting workshops--for instance, John Delafose on Creole fiddle styles in contrast to Steve Riley and Cajun fiddle styles. And C.J. (Chenier) will do one on the music of (his father, seminal zydeco accordionist and singer) Clifton Chenier. That's one that has always worked at other festivals."

The Cajun-zydeco festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. both days at the Rainbow Lagoon, adjacent to the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center. Tickets at the gate will cost $17.50 per day; $15 for senior citizens and students; $5 for ages 10-16. Children under 10 will get in free. Advance tickets are $14.50 per day or $27 for both days. Information: (415) 386-8677.

Others among nearly three dozen performers confirmed so far for the Troubadours of Folk festival are Judy Collins, Richie Havens, Leon Redbone, Taj Mahal, Roger McGuinn, the Kingston Trio, Tish Hinojosa and the Folksmen, the parody folk offshoot of Spinal Tap.

Lineups for each day have not been finalized. In addition to the music, the festival will feature arts, crafts and food booths, pony rides, a petting zoo and other children's entertainment. It will be held at UCLA's Drake Stadium and adjoining grounds.

Tickets are $45 for both days, children 7 to 12 are $15 and children under 7 are free. Information: (714) 740-2000 or (213) 480-3232 (Ticketmaster).

Los Angeles Times Articles