“I was nine years old when I first started playing zydeco. My uncle John used to play the washboard for my father [Roy Carrier], and he didn’t make it one night so my dad woke me up to come out and play my first zydeco show at the Church Hall in Lawtell, Louisiana. After I played my first gig, that’s all I wanted to do, but I couldn’t go into the bars at that age and play. I had to wait until the church halls came around.
My dad had all the instruments: drums, accordion, and bass. We didn’t have toys. Those were our toys, so after homework, we’d play music until it was time to go to bed. My brother [Chubby] played the accordion. My sister played the drums and I played the washboard.
We had a tough time, coming up playing this music, because no one our age wanted to hear it. They would tease us and call us little French boys.
Eventually, my dad moved to Lawtell and bought the Old Gin Side Inn, which is now the Offshore Lounge. We would have jam sessions and that’s where a lot of the musicians created themselves. If you wanted to learn to play zydeco, that was the place to go. It was like a big family, like Roy Carrier had all these kids, man. He took every one of them in and it didn’t matter if you knew how to play or if you didn’t, he wanted you up there.
At 19, I had my first chance to travel around the world with CJ Chenier. That’s when I used to sleep cross-country. It was a great education.
We’ve been playing [more] at home now. Tourists have lots to do with it, because people want to dance, so it’s opening up venues. Before, they just wanted the younger version of zydeco, and a lot of young kids were standing on the floor not dancing. Another thing [the younger set is] doing is adding lots of speakers to it, making it loud, and it doesn’t have to be so loud, you know? I don’t know why they are doing it, but it’s giving a lot of other bands opportunities because people want to hear the older stuff.
As for the elders, we go to local nursing homes to play music for them. They walk in there with their canes but when the music starts, they drop those canes and start dancing. It’s an amazing thing to see. It really takes the pain away, man. When it’s all over with, they go get their canes and go back to their rooms. [zydeco] really brings out the best in people.”
Dikki Du & the Zydeco Krewe play the Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Festival on Sunday, June 23 at 2:30 p.m.