Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, CSPS Hall, Cedar Rapids, IA

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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (January 23, 2014)
 “The words on that last song were hard to understand…”

 “That’s because he was singing in Creole.”

“Oh.”

How cool is zydeco master Jeffery Broussard?

He is so cool that his toothpick remained in the right corner of his mouth for the entire concert. It’s his trademark, and to the dismay of high school vocal directors all over the country, Jeffery sings just fine while keeping that toothpick firmly in place.

Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys are one of those groups that not a lot of people have heard of, but they should. Their award winning brand of zydeco is firmly rooted in its Louisiana, Creole roots, and the band knows their stuff, combining traditional Creole songs with contemporary zydeco, adding in some R&B and funk, in a mix that makes it hard to resist getting up and dancing.

Jeffery knows zydeco like nobody else. His father was Delton Broussard, an accordionist and innovator in his own right. His band, the Lawtell Playboys, broke new ground in the genre when they added some R&B and funk elements to traditional Creole music. Jeffery played drums in his father’s band, later forming the landmark zydeco group Zydeco Force with bassist Robby Robinson. After that group broke up in 2005, Jeffery formed the Creole Cowboys in order to keep the traditional forms of Creole and zydeco alive, as well as continue to explore contemporary zydeco much as his father had done.

There are some younger players out there doing “zydeco”: or so they think. They pick up an accordion and throw in a fiddle and assume that makes for zydeco. Jeffery’s goal is to make sure “real” zydeco is kept alive, and the Creole traditional music that gave birth to zydeco as well. If you’re a fan of some of those more modern “zydeco” groups, you might be surprised to hear the difference in both style and musicianship when Jeffery and his band play their brand of music.

Jeffery’s passion for the music is apparent from the first few notes he played at the start of the concert. He has a seriously good time performing and the music is the message, that message being “GET UP AND DANCE AND HAVE A GOOD TIME!!!” His enjoyment of playing is infectious, as is his impish grin he likes to flash at his band mates during songs.

He gets right to playing great Creole and zydeco, and a lot of it. Jeffery and his band played as many songs in the first set as a lot of performers do during an entire performance. The band had a mission: get people up and dancing to their music, or at least have a good time. So, other than some introductions and a couple of funny stories and jokes (mostly about the cold weather) the show was non-stop, foot stomping, get out of your seat and dance till you’re out of breath zydeco goodness.

That’s the nature of zydeco: it’s meant to get people up and dancing, not sitting down and contemplating the meaning of lyrics. It’s party music, plain and simple, but that doesn’t mean its shallow or trivial. Like all forms of traditionally based music, zydeco reflects the culture and people that birthed it. With every note, Jeffery holds forth music that reflects people who love life and want to wring every moment of joy out of it they possibly can.

At the end of the show, it was “Mission Accomplished”. For a couple of hours, the audience forgot about the cold and snow and were transported to a good time get together in the bayou country of Louisiana, with great music and good times. The only thing missing was jambalaya and crawdads.

About the toothpick: Jeffery did take it out of his mouth one time, when he went to take a drink of water. A few people in the audience made note of it, and his wife turned to tell us that it’s not very often Jeffery removes that toothpick. I’ll leave it at that…

 

 

 

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