Zydeco with zing
Zydeco is the folk music of New Orleans. Generally upbeat, positive, celebratory and bluesy, it is the sound of bayou culture, it is the voice of the people of Louisiana, it is American tradition.
Within every genre of music there is a special artist who comes along that brings that genre into a new generation. For zydeco, Dwayne Dopsie is that special artist. The youngest son of the late King of Zydeco, Rockin’ Dopsie, this guy has big shoes to fill. With one foot firmly planted in his family tradition and the other in innovation, Dopsie has accepted the challenge and continues to be the innovator for this traditional music. He has taken the best of his father — in style and showmanship — and is carving his own musical territory.
Known for his respect of traditional sounds, this singer-songwriter and accordionist is not afraid to branch out into other genres, infusing blues, funk, rock, pop and reggae into his own high-energy style that defies stereotypes and blazes a refreshingly distinct path for 21st century zydeco music.
For Dopsie, music is personal and, although he occasionally spices up the traditional genre with rock and other contemporary influences, Dopsie readily admits he is old school. That probably has something to do with the fact that while he’s something of a traditionalist, the tradition is all about getting people moving.
Dopsie plays a unique style of zydeco. As a small child, he was interested in the washboard, but quickly realized he had incredible talent with an accordion. He has been playing the accordion since age 7. He says that zydeco is his calling, music that is in his blood, heart and soul. No surprise since it is his family’s legacy dating back to his grandfather.
Now, Dopsie is on a mission to bring zydeco from the Louisiana bayou to the rest of America and the rest of the world. For Dopsie, zydeco is like drinking water and his passion to take it to other places is what drives him. He feels it is important for the younger generations to know where it came from since it has such deep roots. It started back when people were still picking beans and cotton in the fields. Dopsie also incorporates a heavy dose of Creole culture into his songs, including singing some of the lyrics in French.
Backing him on his quest are the Zydeco Hellraisers (Paul Lafleur on washboard, Kevin Minor on drums, Dion Pierre on bass, Kipori Woods on guitar and Reggie Smith Jr. on saxophone). The band is tight, with incredible musicianship and astounding enthusiasm. If unfamiliar, they will give you an introduction to zydeco that you’ll never forget.
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers create a new hybrid that fuses the traditional sound with the energy of a new generation. It’s a mixture of blues and intense playing, which gives it the power of a freight train. It is unique, high-energy, blues infused soul music and they will definitely kick some bayou grooves.
Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers perform at the Tahoe Donner Driving Range as part of its Summer Concert Series on July 27. The all ages show is $35 in advance or $40 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at tahoedonner/shop. For more information, call (530) 587-9400. For more information on Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers, visit dwaynedopsie.com.
Saturday, July 27 | 8 p.m. | $35 advance/$40 at the door | All ages | Tahoe Donner Driving Range | Truckee, Calif.