Geno Delafose is nothing if not hard working. Last Mardi Gras season, Delafose spent 10 days playing 11 gigs that stretched from Cowboys Night Club in Scott, Louisiana to the St. Petersburg, Florida Cajun/Zydeco Crawfish Festival. Each weekend, Delafose averages three to four gigs within an hour’s drive of his 140-acre, Double D Ranch near Eunice.
Such high demand is ironic for a 40-year-old accordionist who bucks the trend of rap- and R&B-flavored zydeco. Son of zydeco legend John Delafose, Geno specializes in the music’s roots—traditional two-steps, waltzes and blues. Most of his songs are in Creole French, a language many of his fans have forgotten or never knew.
But Delafose, who has childhood memories of conversing with a Creole grandmother who could not speak English, is sticking with what he knows best. “I’m most comfortable playing the traditional Creole music,” says Delafose, a Grammy nominee for his 2007 CD, Le Cowboy Creole. “I enjoy singing in French because I’m at home with that.”
On June 12—Creole Culture Day—Delafose’s refusal to follow the crowd has earned him the Richard J. Catalon, Sr. Creole Heritage Award, an annual honor issued by the Bayou Vermilion District of Lafayette.
The Catalon Award is named in honor of a late carpenter and historian from Vermilionville. Marvel Broussard, Catalon’s daughter, says Delafose continues her father’s tradition of sharing Creole culture with the world. “Geno brings his culture all over the place,” says Broussard. “And that’s what daddy was. He believed in the Creole language and heritage he came from. He taught the language to the young kids. He believed in Lafayette. He believed in Louisiana.”