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Personal Reflections
6TH Annual Ft. Lauderdale Cajun Zydeco Crawfish Festival
@ Mills' Pond Park, May 8-10, 1998
by Gloria Fern Pierce
These are my favorites, my moments, my reflections, and my excitement. I love Chubby Carrier and Geno Delafose. This had been a full scheduled weekend for me. I had an all day computer class right in the middle. I know I missed much of what I would of loved to have seen and heard, but I was at least fortunate enough to see and hear these two faves of mine.

CHUBBY CARRIER - Magic, smoke, energy, alive, alive. Florida loves this man, this groove, this excitement. Chubby Carrier knows entertainment - he knows how to rock the audience - he starts out not with a song, but with a build up of rhythms - intros to the band, all the while gathering the audience to its feet. He gets their attention, they jump, they shout, they holler, and just when the excitement level is so high - they can't stand it anymore - then, and not before then, he goes into his music, his groove. He has captured them all.

His sound is less Cajun, more soul, more jazz, some rock and then back around the circle with some Cajun thrown into the mix, then still more soul, more jazz and everyone is jumping. His band is all with him; the chemistry between them is strong. They are all from Cajun country - Louisiana - no question of roots here. Saxophone, washboard, drums, guitar, bass, and Chubby on accordion - and often with the infamous male shake dancer to liven the stage act even more. This time seeing the dancer, I was surprised to see he was almost fully clothed, albeit in tights, no bare buns as last year, but still outrageous.

There is so much energy here, it shakes the air. It's hot on this evening, yet hardly anyone leaves until late - Chubby has them captured. The energy level is still very high, the music gets louder, it is difficult to maintain. Chubby and his band work each instrument to keep the peak. I especially liked the saxophone player who added a pure jazz element - hardly seen so strongly in Cajun and Zydeco bands. I loved it.

Gloria & Geno
Photo © 1998 by Gloria Fern Pierce.
All rights reserved
GENO DELAFOSE - "He's so pure" - I overheard this comment from a fan. That smile! It's magnetic and childlike. If you are lucky enough to get up real close, that smile is so contagious, warm, friendly and heartfelt. His pressed cowboy attire attracts the attention of both the females and the males in the audience. There is an innocent sexiness that slowly draws the audience in - unlike Chubby who gets them from the 1st beat and has to keep them there; Geno slowly sucks you into his mood and it builds and builds to the end.

He too understands the value of entertainment. A new addition this year were the female washboard players. At one point the number of girls increases until there were 6 of them on the stage. The girls are so full of expression; they help keep the attention focused on the stage. Then Geno starts to build the energy; he's doing "Boogie Woogie Chu Chu Boogie - Sugar Shack". Once Geno builds his steam, his energy keeps building, his personality and warmth shine through the mix as "Jambalaya". The longer Geno plays, the more the audience loves him and the bigger his smile gets. How much bigger I can't imagine, but he can make the women all - all ages - melt. Like Chubby's band, they are all from Louisiana. Not a surprise though that the girls are from the more upbeat New Orleans.

Geno and girls w/rubboards
Photo © 1998 by Gloria Pierce.
All rights reserved
Over at the History Tent, after Geno's performance, Michael Tisserand, author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, available in September, was heading up a discussion with Geno and Steve Riley and Steve's fiddle player - David Greely.

I was particularly impressed with Geno and so paid the most attention to him. He is so articulate, thoughtful, insightful and sensitive and wise for his 27 years. He doesn't drink any alcohol - having had a bad experience with a "Tom Collins" that his mother had once given him when he was young. It was a wonderful story, and his mother was very wise. He learned very young that he didn't need alcohol to be who he is.

Geno made several comments, which I noted. "Music doesn't have a color - if you can play it, play it." "In order to go forward with your music, you have to change a little with the times." He loves the Ft. Lauderdale festival because it brings together both the black Creole Cajun and Zydeco music. For Fort Lauderdale, this festival is a tribute to the festival office and all the people who work so hard to bring it all together. They do a great job and I commend them over and over again.

Gloria Pierce
Miami, FL

Copyright © 1998 by Gloria Pierce, all rights reserved.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
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