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Buckwheat Zydeco Lays His 'Burden Down'

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Buckwheat Zydeco Lays His 'Burden Down'

Buckwheat Zydeco Lays His 'Burden Down'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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For 30 years the go-to guy for zydeco music has been Stanley Dural, Jr. You may know him better by the name Buckwheat Zydeco.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Mr. Dural is considered a master of the accordion and organ. His latest album on Alligator Records is called "Lay Your Burden Down." And in addition to his own tunes, it features songs by an eclectic group, from Bruce Springsteen to Memphis Minnie to Jimmy Cliff and Captain Beefheart. Buckwheat Zydeco, Stanley Dural, Jr., joins us now from the studios of member station KRBS in Lafayette, Louisiana. Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. STANLEY DURAL, JR.(Musician): It's a pleasure.

SIMON: Now, people tend to refer you as Buckwheat Zydeco. But that's technically the name of your band, isn't it?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Exactly, that's the name of the group - Buckwheat Zydeco.

SIMON: I was going to refer to you as Mr. Zydeco. But what about what about Mr. Dural, is that okay?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DURAL, JR.: That's fine. That's fine.

SIMON: We think of your music, of course, as get up and dance good time tunes. But this is your first album since Hurricane Katrina. And you opened it with an old Memphis Minnie song, "When the Levee Breaks." Why did you choose this one?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: It's very relative to all the hardship that's gone on back in Louisiana. You know, it's hard when you see thousands and thousands of people that have been in one place for so many years and now you have no place to stay. That really touches the heart, you know, people that have gone and haven't come back and people that came back, they'll always be with you.

SIMON: Let's hear a little bit of it.

(Soundbite of song, "When the Levee Breaks")

BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO (Band): (Singing) If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break, if it keeps on raining, levee's going to break, when the levee breaks I'll have no place to stay. Mean old levee taught me how to weep and moan, Lord, mean old levee taught me how to weep and moan, got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home.

SIMON: The album's title cut, "Lay Your Burden Down" is by guitarist Warren Haynes. It might be a little bit of a - seem like little bit of a departure for a lot of your fans. Let's listen to that.

(Soundbite of song, Lay Your Burden Down")

BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO: (Singing) It's heavy, lay your burden down, it's heavy, lay your burden down, brother, can't you see stars in the night, brother, can't you see stars in the night.

SIMON: Do I have this right, Mr. Dural? You actually began as more of an R&B specialist?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Yes, I was a very, very hardcore R&B performer as an organist on the Hammmond B for many, many, many years. I was raised in a home with a music surrounding.

My father played accordion, only for family entertainment. My mother sang spiritually in the home. I was raised with seven sisters and six brothers in a two-bedroom home. And I was always into music. And I played piano at the age of five till nine when I got my first organ.

SIMON: So how did you meet the Zydeco?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Well, I was introduced to a gentleman called Clifton Chenier — the King of Zydeco. And he was one of my father's best friends. And he played the accordion and my dad tell me that I need to play the accordion like Clifton Chenier. And I got an invitation from the King of Zydeco to perform as an organist in his group. And I was sort like a bad critic on accordion music because I heard it 24/7 at home. My dad played it every morning, every lunch, every night. And so…

SIMON: I have to interrupt. What did he play on the accordion for breakfast?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Zydeco.

SIMON: So you had coffee, roll and Zydeco?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Yeah, up-tempo before he went to work in the morning.

SIMON: Oh boy.

Mr. DURAL, JR.: And he come home at twelve and it was accordion again. He was true a trooper on the Zydeco Creole music, you see. And I heard it 24/7, that was enough for me. But I decided to go and perform with Clifton Chenier for one night right here at Lafayette (unintelligible). And I put my organ on stage, the Hammond organ, and we played for four hours non-stop. And he was telling people goodnight and I couldn't believe it, and I thought we had just got onstage - that's how much energy he had projected. I wound up staying with Clifton over two years. I said next band I get, I'll be playing accordion.

SIMON: What comes first to you - your music, lyrics?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Music, the melody, and then lyrics. That's the way I do it. That way you can go in any direction you want to go, you see.

SIMON: Another song I want you to get you to take a listen to with us. I'm interested in - you have a 1972 Captain Beefheart song, winds up on the CD, called "Too Much Time." Let's first listen to that.

(Soundbite of music)

BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO: (Singing) I got too much time, too much time, I got too much time to be without love, I got too much time, too much time, I got too much time, too much time, I got too much time, too much time, I've had too much time to be without love.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DURAL, JR.: You have too much time on your hands not too be in love with somebody. See what I'm saying?

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. DURAL, JR.: I could love somebody. Too much time to be without love.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I do understand that. I mean in life you feel torn between not having enough time and sometimes having too much.

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Vice-versa, exactly.

SIMON: What's the year like for you? How often are you on the road?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: I get on the road maybe around 10 months out of a year. In and out, you know. I don't know how many dates I do because I mean I don't even think about it. This is what I do and I love doing what I'm doing. You get out there, you know, you see thousands of people who got smiles on their faces. That's my reward. Somebody's happy.

SIMON: And is it a particular pleasure to bring the organ, the accordion, and Zydeco to, well, someplace where it really is a kind of exotic visitor, like Munich, Germany or Moscow?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Sure, it's like (unintelligible) the culture. I love going to different countries because this is my culture. This is how I live. And I like to see what you do in your country. I (unintelligible) my ears to wherever I go. I make it my business to understand the culture, you know, and respect it all, you know.

SIMON: Do you ever hear any music in another place you kind of want to bring back or at least learn something from that and make it part of your own?

Mr. DURAL, JR.: Yeah, sure. I call myself like music crazy because some people may say that you can't like everything. Maybe I don't like everything, but I will listen to everything. If it's not the whole CD, I'm going to love something on that CD. And that's with all type of music, you know, from Zydeco to blues, country and western, to Japan. Go to France or whatever. Wherever, I'm going to like some.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Your album ends with a long and really very mellow instrumental, "Finding My Way Back Home."

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Is this the kind of tune you want to end the set at night and let people go home with this mood on their minds?

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DURAL, JR.: It's a good sentimental song. It's a meditation song. And that's also like a tribute to all the victims of the hurricanes, you know, and (unintelligible) finding my way back home. (Unintelligible) no matter where you go, how long you stay, you always come home.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. DURAL, JR.: You might take your time to get there, but you're coming back.

SIMON: Mr. Dural, it's so nice to talk to you. Thanks very much.

Mr. DURAL, JR.: It's so great to talk to you, Scott. Thank you very much.

SIMON: Speaking with us from Lafayette, Louisiana. Stanley Dural.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Buckwheat Zydeco's latest album, on Alligator Records, is called "Lay Your Burden Down," and you can hear songs from Buckwheat Zydeco's new album at our Web site,

(Soundbite of music)

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