European zydeco band the Cajun Roosters earned a 2014 Prix d’Hors award from the Cajun French Music Association for their 2013 album Hell Yeah!, marking the first time a non-American band has won in that category.
Each member of the five-piece band hails from a different country – accordion player Chris Hall is from the UK, fiddle player David Buyle is from Belgium, guitar player Hazel Scott is from Scotland, bass player Michael Bentele is German, and drummer Antoine Fève is from France – but the love of Cajun and zydeco music brings them all together.
“The CFMA always gives one award, the Prix d’Hors, to a band not from Louisiana or East Texas,” he said. “We’ve been nominated almost every year with our previous CDs as first runner up, but now finally with our latest album Hell Yeah!, we’ve won the award, which is for us a great, great honor.”
For Bentele, earning recognition from the CFMA has been a high point for the band, and it shows that their dedication to Cajun music and culture transcends all borders.
“We listen to Cajun zydeco daily, but there is no club around where there is always a band playing, like there is in the Lafayette area,” he said. “We’re sort of missionaries trying to get the music we love to Europe.”
Bentele, who also manages the Cajun Roosters, travelled from Germany to Lafayette to accept the award in person and to visit with fellow Cajun and zydeco performers he has made friends with over the years.
The Cajun Roosters host a traveling festival called the American Cajun Blues and Zydeco Festival featuring Louisiana musicians, which is in its 14 year.
With 17 stops across Germany, this year’s festival will help spread the gospel of Cajun music more than ever before, with a dose of blues to help attract crowds unfamiliar with zydeco music.
“For this year, we got an artist called Buddy Flett from Shreveport,” Bentele said. “This year’s he’s the Louisiana blues part for our festival.”