A testament to the readability and subject matter of the 1983 first edition of South to Louisiana, is that I bought two copies of it—and they both got stolen from my bookshelf! Of course this is a study in the history of the music of South Louisiana—Cajun, blues, swamp pop, and zydeco—but it’s also a celebration of its culture and the ingenuity of those who shaped it. This edition is expanded with further published research and dozens of post-first edition interviews. It also documents the post-1983 history and the story behind several of the newer artists. Broven details the pioneering South Louisiana artists, their music, their influences, and their history—history that also includes the importance of the dance halls, zydeco clubs, fais do dos, radio stations, juke boxes and DJs.
Broven is especially fascinated by the South Louisiana record men, specifically Eddie Shuler (Lake Charles), J. D. Miller (Crowley), and especially Floyd Soileau (Ville Platte) who gambled on and recorded that fabulous music. As he pointed out, these men gave their little communities international identities by bucking the trend of the rest of America’s musical mass uniformity. Easily 50 percent of the book deals with record men (besides the South Louisiana holy trinity) as well as the hits, misses and break-evens. While the second edition of South To Louisiana will certainly become the bible of the area’s music, there are a couple of minor shortfalls. Outside of a few name checks, Broven overlooks the phenomenal explosion of zydeco around here (live and on CD) that occurred in the late 1980s and extended into the millennium. Back then, zydeco around here was as big as disco was at Studio 54. Also, overlooking Zachary Richard doesn’t make any sense. Petty complaints aside, this book is well-written, well-researched and well-balanced between the genres. It’s a great reference and will give readers hours of enjoyment. Well worth the energy tracking this book down, mes amis.