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FESTIVALS & EVENTS : Hot, Spicy Cajun Music Blend

June 03, 1993|RANDY LEWIS | Randy Lewis is an assistant editor of the Calendar section of The Times Orange County Edition.

The seventh annual Southern California Cajun & Zydeco Festival will again bring a mix of established and lesser-known Louisiana musicians to Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach on Saturday and Sunday.

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.

But because of a scheduling snafu, the Cajun-zydeco festival will be competing this weekend with the Troubadours of Folk festival at UCLA.

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

"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."

Chenier and Delafose lead two of today's top zydeco bands. Chenier's is largely the same one that for years backed his father, Clifton, the accordionist and singer who is widely recognized as the "king of zydeco." This year, the Red Hot Louisiana Band will include saxophonist John Hart, the longtime Clifton Chenier associate who is considered the first zydeco saxophonist, Wentworth said.

Riley is a young accordionist and fiddler considered one of the bright stars of traditional Cajun music. All three acts will play both days.

Festival newcomer Cormier is one of the few female accordionists in Cajun music, as well as one of the few women who lead a band. She and her group, Cajun Sounds, will play Sunday.

The Iguanas, playing Saturday only, is 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 on Saturday by L.A.'s Joe Simien & the Country Boys and on Sunday by the Brand-New Old-Time Cajun Band, a new group including former members of the Louisiana Cajun Trio and fronted by accordionist Charles Boulet, a Sulpher, La., native now living in Bakersfield.

While each featured group is on stage, 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, 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 also will include the usual variety of food booths, free dance instruction, special events for children and other activities.

Cajun & Zydeco Festival Events

SATURDAY, JUNE 5 Noon: Joe Simien & the Country Boys

1 p.m.: John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys

2:30 p.m.: The Iguanas

4 p.m.: Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

5:30 p.m.: C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, featuring saxophonist John Hart

SUNDAY, JUNE 6 Noon: The Brand-New Old-Time Cajun Band

1 p.m.: Sheryl Cormier & Cajun Sounds

2:30 p.m.: John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys

4 p.m.: Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

5:30 p.m.: C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, featuring saxophonist John Hart

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