Back in the late 80s I went through a big Cajun phase, slowly and haphazardly educating myself by reading liner notes. Like many others at the time, I got hooked first on zydeco—via Buckwheat Zydeco (who experienced a huge mainstream bump via the soundtrack from The Big Easy), Clifton Chenier, and my favorite, Boozoo Chavis—but that stuff started me down a road that led me to the Cajun sounds of Iry LeJeune, Nathan Abshire, Bois Sec Ardoin, and Canray Fontenot.
There was something innately soulful in their wild, shouted vocals, as well as in the heady interweaving of accordion and fiddle on so many of the records. It wasn’t long before I hit on the root source—the scant output of accordionist and singer Amede Ardoin. Back then I bought a terrific vinyl release on Arhoolie Records, but to be honest, as much as I appreciated and understood Ardoin’s importance, I wasn’t quite ready for the rawness of the recordings. Earlier this year Tompkins Square released the definitive Ardoin collection, a double CD called Mama, I’ll Be Long Gone: The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin 1929-1934, and this time I’m prepared to enjoy Ardoin’s art.