The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101851   Message #2058613
Posted By: Peace
22-May-07 - 04:41 PM
Thread Name: Obit: creole musician Bois-Sec Ardoin - May 2007
Subject: RE: Obit: Bois-Sec Ardoin
Musical legend Bois Sec Ardoin laid to rest

Herman Fuselier

EUNICE - When James Adams ended his Zydeco Pas Salé radio show at 3 a.m. Monday, he spent the next four hours driving east on Interstate 10. Adams was determined to be in Louisiana for the funeral of Creole accordion legend Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin.

Adams' three-hour program was dedicated to Ardoin and the family's rich musical legacy. Adams is not family, but Ardoin moved him to play traditional music.

"He was my inspiration from a kid," Adams said. "When the family used to come to the International Festival and the Cajun Gumbo Cook-off in Houston, I remember that like it was yesterday.

"He would play on the back of a little trailer. People just went crazy.
"Even went I got older, every time they would come to Houston, I would miss work and come to see them."

Adams was among the friends, fans and relatives who attended Ardoin's funeral Monday at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.

Ardoin, 91, died of natural causes Wednesday at the Eunice Manor Nursing Home.

Ardoin was among the first musicians to record "la-la," the rural house party music of black Creole sharecroppers. After World War II, la-la blended with urban rhythm and blues and became zydeco. Ardoin and fiddler Canray Fontenot played the traditional Creole style for 50 years before Fontenot died in 1995.

Their partnership not only made them local favorites but also earned the duo an appearance at Carnegie Hall and shows at music festivals across the globe. In 1986, Bois Sec and Canray, as they were called by fans, earned a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's highest honor for traditional arts.

Ardoin's death was reported in the Sunday New York Times, which even impressed his grandson Sean, part of the family's fourth generation to record Creole music and zydeco.

"When you grow up next to a mountain, you don't know how large it is," he said. "But whenever somebody sent me an e-mail that showed the New York Times said that he died, that shows you that with the mountain called Bois Sec, the view of him was far and wide.

"I'm just glad to be a little foothill on the mountain of Bois Sec."

Ed Poullard, a fiddler and accordionist from Beaumont, Texas, was among the many who remember Ardoin as a "quiet gentleman" who was always willing to share his time and music with others.

"Even when he was in the public eye, there was always a silent part of him that people didn't really grasp," said Poullard, a Eunice native. "He had a big family around him all the time.

"He really appreciated his quiet moments. But he didn't let on that he was glad to be away from people. He always welcomed people. I always remember that about him, and people appreciate that."

Melvin Ceasar, Ardoin's cousin and co-host of the Zydeco est pas Salé program on KRVS, said Ardoin remained humble despite his worldwide notoriety.

"His legend was the accordion," Ceasar said, "but he was just an old Creole man, and he never forgot that.

"For Creole people, it's hard for them to say no. And that was him. Whatever you wanted, he said OK.

"The thought was what you give today, you're going to get it back. All the stuff he gave, now he's getting ready to get it back."

With 12 of his 14 children still living, Ardoin also is survived by 32 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.