We all know about getting from A to B, but how about Y to Z, the Y being York and the Z being Zydeco. Now there’s not an obvious connection between York and Zydeco, but stick with me, as I take you from York to Zydeco.
The tale ends with my most recent addition to my vinyl collection, Boogalusa Boogie by [easyazon_link identifier=”B0000001HJ” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Clifton Chenier[/easyazon_link]. This is the only Zydeco album to earn a five star review from Rolling Stone, who described it as “Indispensable: a record that must be included in any comprehensive collection.”
So how did this Englishman, living in Cincinnati, come to discover Clifton Chenier? Well the clue is on the record sleeve itself. Take a look in the bottom-left hand corner and you’ll see the word Arhoolie. Now until about a year ago, I’d never heard of Arhoolie Records, when browsing through my Facebook feed, I saw a link from Dom Flemons to an article in the Oxford American, which appeared in the winter 2014 Southern Music Issue devoted to Texas.
The article was called, “It’s got ahold of me” and features an interview by Dom Flemons with Chris Strachwitz, the founder of Arhoolie Records. It’s a fascinating read with some great tales of Chris Stratchwitz’s experiences as a field recorder. This led me to buy the documentary DVD, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00RWKN8XM” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]This Ain’t No Mouse Music[/easyazon_link];The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records. One of the artists appearing on the DVD was Clifton Chenier, hence the interest in Boogalusa Boogie.
So that explains, how I got from Dom Flemons to Zydeco, via Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records, but how did I first come across Dom Flemons. Well I’ve seen Dom Flemons a couple of times since moving to Cincinnati. Firstly I saw him acting as Master of Ceremonies on Pokey LaFarge’s Central Time Tour, which I caught at Middletown, Ohio. During the show he played some tracks off his [easyazon_link identifier=”B00KJFZXIK” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Prospect Hill[/easyazon_link] album, one of my favorite albums of the last couple of years.
Most recently I saw Dom Flemons at the Cincinnati Music Hall as part of the [easyazon_link identifier=”B013SZFMCE” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]American Originals[/easyazon_link] concert, based primarily around of the music of Stephen Foster.
That still doesn’t explain, how I came across Dom Flemons. Well,the first time I saw him was as part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops at a concert in the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds, England, during their [easyazon_link identifier=”B002U33GQU” locale=”US” tag=”tonnewmus-20″]Genuine Negro Jig[/easyazon_link] tour. . I’d got the tickets having heard the Carolina Chocolate Drops on one of my favorite radio shows, the Bob Harris Show. The concert itself was excellent and the support on the night, David Wax Museum, was also superb.
So, that’s taken the story back over the Atlantic to Leeds, England, where does York fit in? York is where this whole story starts, as that is where I met my lovely wife Tara, who goes to most of the gigs with me and who patiently indulges my love of music. The Carolina Chocolate Drops concert was one of our first gigs as a couple. We loved the Carolina Chocolate Drops that much that we included one of their songs on the CD we gave our wedding guests as a favor.
So there you have it, how I got from York to Zydeco and ended up with the Boogalusa Boogie by Clifton Chenier