Stanley 'Buckwheat' Dural Jr. Brings Zydeco Music to Metro Detroit
Musical troupe Buckwheat Zydeco plays classic Louisiana swing at the Magic Bag in Ferndale on July 16, 2013
It's a quick infection. A snap of the fingers to the beat or tap of a toe and it's on your body like a fever and you are hooked. That is the effect of Zydeco music. But don't ask Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr. – often called the king of Zydeco – to explain the musical genre's contagious spirit. When his band, Buckwheat Zydeco, comes to the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, he invites you to experience the music genre firsthand.
Cooked up in southwest Louisiana, Zydeco is heavy with accordion riffs complemented by a washboard (played as a musical instrument), featuring bluesy folk styled vocals. It's rhythm and blues with a signature upbeat tempo – which keeps the party going, says Dural. But he was not always a fan of Zydeco. Dural wanted to rock and roll.
"Growing up, I heard it 24/7. Accordion in the morning, lunchtime, nighttime – that was enough for me. Know what I am saying?" says Dural, 65, in a thick Creole-and-Cajun-meshed accent. "My background is playing organ and rock 'n' roll funk music. You know, James Brown and Little Richard; let's have a good time. In my generation, accordion was for elderly people. I wanted to boogie-woogie."
Another take on Zydeco as defined by famous Louisiana musician Clifton Chenier, Dural's mentor (and the real king of Zydeco, says Dural), is snappy. "Many years ago it was 'la la,' and if you ask me what that means, believe me, I don't know. Then Clifton Chenier explained it as snap-and-crackle music. You know fresh string beans, when you have to pick them, they snap off the vine. It's that snap. That's how he defined it. So I said, 'Well, he's the master, so I guess that's what it means.'"
Not one to be limited, Dural uses well-known songs from different genres and spices them up or tunes them down to fit the Zydeco style, borrowing from older and younger generations to create a universal performance. "And each night it's different," says Dural.
"I go where the audience wants to go. We do requests, but I don't just play a style all night. And I have been criticized for that," says Dural. "But the thing is, man, if you're gonna be a musician, if you are going to play music, play music – no matter what type of music they say it is. I mean, since when do you hear an accordion player playing some Jimi Hendrix? That’s why I take a couple of songs and play it in the Buckwheat Zydeco repertoire."
He adds, "I don't want to hurt the song. You know that slogan, 'If ain't broke, don't fix it'? If you can't do anything good with someone else's music, leave it alone."
Buckwheat Zydeco plays at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16 at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. For more information, visit the BLAC online calendar.