Look-Ka Py Py Podcast (ep 14): Dwayne Dopsie’s Zydeco Birthright

“I loved to listen to it. That was the old-style blues. To play that style of blues on an accordion, it was unheard of — unless you was Clifton Chenier,” says Dwayne Dopsie of his father, Rockin’ Dopsie Sr.’s approach to the instrument. In the heyday of the elder’s career — the mid-Seventies through the mid-Eighties — he redefined the sound of zydeco, his prowess on the accordion pushing the boundaries of the blues-based direction begun by the great Chenier and earning him the moniker: “Crowned Prince of Zydeco.” Rockin’ Dopsie Sr. passed away in 1993 at the age of 61; Dwayne, his youngest son (and a budding accordion player, himself) was just 14.

Dwayne Dopsie, Publicity Photo, mercy

Today, Dwayne is 33, and while few rival his virtuosity on the accordion, none rival the Zydeco artist’s groove. Fresh off of South American and European tours, Dwayne and his band, the Zydeco Hellraisers, cut their new album Been Good to You over the course of a day at Maurice, Louisiana’s famed Dockside Studio. “We ran through it like butter,” says Dopsie of the session, which was also the band’s first in more than three years. It’s that fluidity, the culmination of years of dedication and the appreciation of the tradition laid before him, that has won Dwayne Dopsie accolades the world over and cemented his place among Zydeco’s greats — a birthright fulfilled.