Kids’ Stuff: Buckwheat Zydeco for the Young and Young at Heart

As a student of the legendary Clifton Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco has spent the last 35 years celebrating zydeco one way or another. He’s won a Grammy, he performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and he has cut more than 26 albums. In 1994, he took his music in a more family-oriented direction for Choo Choo Boogaloo, and now he’s back with a second children’s album, Bayou Boogie on the Music for Little People label.

Like its predecessor, Bayou Boogie is a joyous blast of zydeco, funk and R&B that teaches kids about the heritage and instruments of zydeco while inspiring the whole family to get up and dance. It’s important to provide kids with access to this kind of tradition, Buck says, “not just grown-up music,” because they’re the future of Louisiana and its artistic heritage. Bayou Boogie‘s “Walking The Dog” is a raucous celebration of the chore, while the rambunctious feel of “Barefootin'” is sure to have all its listeners moving to the titular dance.

Playing for kids, says Buck, is its own reward. “When I have the younger generation coming up with the older generation, when I know the young kids are paying attention,” he says, “that’s what it’s all about.” And that multi-generational aspect isn’t just talk. Buck has regulars in their mid-twenties that started coming to his shows at three or four. The incendiary energy of the music appeals to people of all ages. “It’s happy music,” he says. “You got no business being sad when you listen to zydeco!” He laughs when he compares the frantic gyrations of his younger audience to the older generation’s two-stepping and says, “When we perform, you always see a happy face. It doesn’t matter if it’s two people or 2,000 people.”

Buckwheat Zydeco plays Voodoo Saturday, October 30 at 6:45 p.m. on the SoCo/WWOZ Stage.