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OUTINGS: Ventura County

Foot-Tappin' Fun

Acadiana's dancers add a party flavor to its Cajun brew.


As usual, the musical portion of the 14th Annual California Strawberry Festival is filled with an eclectic assortment of talent. Big-name rock stars include War and Big Mountain. Famous local rock stars (who lack only the label deal and the bank account) include Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Papa-Nata, the Pontiax, Southern Cross, the Estrada Brothers and those Cajun connoisseurs in the band Acadiana who will bring a bit of the bayou to Oxnard.

About half the members of Acadiana are Realtors by day. All of them are solid players by night or at 4 p.m. Sunday when they will provide the party-ending soundtrack for this year's wingding. The band includes Johnny Koutzoukis (drums and vocals), Pat "Knuckles" Patterson (rub board), Teresa Russell (guitar, vocals), Rich Borrella (bass), Terry Tintorri (accordion), Phil Salazar or Mark Indicator (fiddle), Jimmy Harvey and Carrie Eller (feet).

Feet? Yup, Acadiana brings its own party wherever the group goes in the form of its own dancers.

"We've always had them," Tintorri said. "Song No. 1, the ice is broken because they're already up there dancing. Also, they give dance lessons. At one gig, out of 300 people, 100 were there to take Cajun dance lessons. They're part of the band, and they're paid a split."

The Acadiana lineup has changed over the last few years. It's new and improved and bolstered considerably by a pair of noteworthy local players--guitarist Russell and fiddle virtuoso Salazar.

"Phil is a national player, and he's in our town," said Tintorri. "He showed up one night about three years ago and I told him, 'Phil, you can just do what you want.' It's sort of like Phil Salazar unchained. Sometimes he plays and drinks beer at the same time and the audience goes nuts."

And Russell, who has been playing professionally since she was 11 and can count her monthly nights off on one hand, joined a few months ago, bringing her repertoire of over 500 songs.

"I always have a lot of fun with the band," she said. "It's a happy thing, always festive. It's party music."

"Fun" does seem to be the operative word with this band, and no one has more fun than Tintorri's real estate partner "Knuckles" Patterson, who plays the rub board. Not as low budget as a triangle, but close, all Patterson needs to rock is a hunk of tin and a spoon. Plus, he doesn't have to wear a suit.

"There's only eight or nine rub-board players in the state, so I'm already in the Top 10."

The continuing popularity of Acadiana is the foot-friendly nature of Cajun and zydeco music, which practically make dancing inevitable.

"That's one of the attractions of this music. It doesn't matter how old or young you are," said Tintorri. "We get kids, college kids and grandparents. That's why we like to play all-ages places. I like the rhythm, the syncopation. We could now do an hour-and-a-half of original tunes, but we like to split it up, half and half."

Usually Acadiana plays once a month, but with summer coming, they want to hit the festival circuit, and a CD is threatened in a month or so. Thus far, nobody's ready to quit their day job.

The money isn't exactly rolling in, according to Tintorri.

"We haven't made a nickel yet although we do pay Teresa or else she'll go play somewhere else. Who knows? We might make a profit eventually. We're getting to be a good zydeco band and a good Cajun band. Before that, I always bought into the theory that you had to be born into it or related to it to play it. We're just going to keep on doing it."

And for once, the drummer, Koutzoukis, had the last word: "I just can't get that syncopation out of my head. Every part of me just smiles."


Saturday: Blue Stew, 10 a.m.; Teresa Russell, 10 a.m.; Iron Mountain Boys, 10 a.m.; the Estrada Brothers, noon; Chet McCracken Jazz Trio, noon; Lindy Hoppers Dance Group, 1:30 p.m.; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, 2 p.m.; Hazel Payne & A Taste of Honey, 2 p.m.; Mr. "O," 2 p.m.; Big Mountain, 3:30 p.m.; Yoka Enzene, 4 p.m.

Sunday: Southern Cross, 10 a.m.; Crosscut, 10 a.m.; Buzzworld, 10 a.m.; Stevie Davis & the Stealers, noon; the Pontiax, noon; King Cotton, 1 p.m.; Papa-Nata, 1:30 p.m.; Domino Affect, 2 p.m.; War, 3:30 p.m.; Acadiana, 4 p.m.

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