Accordionist Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr., leader and founder of the funky New Orleans band Buckwheat Zydeco, passed away Saturday, September 24, in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana at the age of 68.
Zydeco is cajun-creole funk music. It’s about as funky as you can get, a blended musical analog for gumbo and other spicy cajun cuisine. The word Zydeco is believed to be a creolized version of the French word for green snap beans, les haricots. It comes from a local phrase for how’s it going (i.e. Ça va?): Non, les haricots ne sont pas salés. No, the snap beans aren’t salty (i.e. I’m not having a great day).
Clifton Chenier and Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas on the air. KCRW once had a wonderful cajun-Zydeco show called “Gumbo Ya-Ya,” hosted by Chuck Taggart, who produced the best box set of New Orleans creole music called Doctors, Professions, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans.
Buckwheat was instrumental in bringing Zydeco music into the mainstream. The band has performed with famous musicians such as Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, and Eric Clapton, and appeared many times on national TV shows. They also performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta to a worldwide television audience. The group toured all the time–around Louisiana and the south, as well as in European clubs and big festivals such as the Montreux Festival in Switzerland.
A prolific artist over a 30-year span, Buckwheat’s joyful and soulful last album, Lay Your Burden Down, was nominated for a Grammy in 2009. Here is Buckwheat performing in 2007 at the big New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: