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Louisiana Sounds Will Heat Up the Shore in June : Music: Cajun & Zydeco Festival at Rainbow Lagoon will feature spicy favorites.


LONG BEACH — The 7th Annual Southern California Cajun & Zydeco Festival will again bring a mix of established and lesser-known Louisiana musicians to Rainbow Lagoon the weekend of June 5-6.

Topping the lineup will be C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, all of whom are making return appearances. Festival first-timers include Sheryl Cormier and the Iguanas.

Because of a scheduling snafu, the Cajun-zydeco festival will be competing with the Troubadours of Folk festival at UCLA the same weekend. There is only one Cajun act at the folk festival, but it is one of the genre's leading groups, Michael Doucet & Beausoleil. The band has played the Cajun-zydeco festival several times since its inception in 1987, but will play the Troubadours festival instead this year because its record label, Rhino Records, is one of the sponsors of the folk event.

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

Among the performers are Chenier and Delafose, who lead two top zydeco bands. Chenier's band is largely the same one that for years backed his father, Clifton Chenier, widely recognized as the "King of Zydeco." This year the Red Hot Louisiana Band will include saxophonist John Hart, considered the first zydeco saxophonist, Wentworth said.

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, who will play 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 Clifton Chenier. That's one that has always worked at other festivals."

Wentworth said the festival will have food booths, events for children and other activities.

The festival is 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 are $17.50 per day; $15 for senior citizens and students; $5 for ages 10-16. Children younger than 10 are admitted free. Advance tickets are $14.50 per day or $27 for both days. Information: (415) 386-8677.

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