For the past two years, Kay Wright has chartered buses to New Orleans and Beaumont, Texas so dozens of fans can see Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. Most of those fans danced to Delafose and his zydeco band the night before the trips, and many had plans to see him the following evening. Wright, who moved nearly five years ago from Birmingham, Alabama to Breaux Bridge because of her love of zydeco, suffers from a Delafose obsession.
“The first time I saw Geno, I went up to take a picture of him,” she says. “But every time, he went back to the microphone because that’s where he was in his songs. I got frustrated and was about to turn around, and he said, ‘Hey.’ He moved away from the microphone, smiled at me like the most important person in the world and let me take a picture. He makes everybody feel like they are his friend.”
Delafose is the hottest attraction in southwest Louisiana. While other area bands struggle to find one or two gigs a weekend, Delafose and band average four to five.
Such high demand is ironic for an accordionist who bucks the trend of rap- and R&B-flavored zydeco. Geno specializes in traditional two-steps, waltzes and blues, most sung in Creole French—a language many of his fans have forgotten or never knew.
“I’m most comfortable playing the traditional Creole music,” says Delafose. “I enjoy singing in French because I’m at home with that. After I went on the road for a few years, I found that’s what I do best. People like it and I stuck to it. It’s paid off in the long run.”
Each fall, Delafose treats hundreds to free barbecue and music at a fan appreciation party in his hometown of Eunice. Although he spends thousands to put on the event, Delafose says it’s a small price to pay for success.
“I’ll keep on doing it until the day I die—or as long as I can afford it.”
Geno Delafose plays Jazz Fest on Friday, April 27 at 12:40 p.m. on the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage.