Spicy music heats up Cajun Fest
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
The only thing spicier than the homemade fare at the 32nd annual Cajun Festival, slated for Saturday, Sept. 22, are the dueling Cajun and zydeco musicians performing nonstop at the Fais Do Do Pavilion and the Gazebo Stage.
The festivities kick off when the gates open at 11 am with the Dixieland music of the Band-Aids Jazz Band ushering in the Medina Lake Second Line Dancers "New Orlawns" style. Once started, the fun and dancin' won't stop until 10 pm.
"The musicians just love to play this festival - even more than the ones in Louisiana. This festival is so different and enjoyable that musicians have actually turned down festivals back home to play here in Lakehills," said the Cajun Fest's prime mover Bob Caswell in an earlier interview.
According to Caswell, zydeco music made its debut at the Cajun Fest in 2005 - the year Hurricanes Katrina and Rita played havoc with the traveling plans of musicians already scheduled to appear. "Unfortunately, most of them were stuck in Louisiana because of Rita," Caswell recalled. "It really put us in a bind."
However, Cedryl Ballou, originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now of Waco, saved the day. That year, he and his band, the Zydeco Trendsetters, first rocked the Cajun Festival - and they've been back ever since.
The Zydeco Trendsetters - aka Ballou's "family" band - include legendary guitarist Classie Ballou Sr., Ballou's grandfather; bass guitarist Cedric Ballou, his father; and multi-instrumentalist Cam'ron Ballou, a cousin, with T. Zenon on the scrubboard and Sydney Pennie on drums.
This year, Ballou and the Trendsetters bring their special brand of zydeco with a "side order of funk" to the Gazebo Stage from 3 pm until 5 pm and again from 7:30 until the festival closes.
Known as "The Jewel of the Bayou," Leroy Thomas is one of the most gifted, versatile, and dynamic musicians on the zydeco scene. He and the Zydeco Roadrunners offer an extensive repertoire of traditional zydeco mixed with Cajun, blues, R&B, and country music, overlaid with an innovative, funky, hard-driving sound.
"I favor 'old school zydeco'," Thomas said. "I like keeping the tradition of Louisiana alive and flowing. I might throw in my own flavor now and then, but I always come back to original zydeco - the real deal.
Thomas' and the Roadrunners' "real deal" zydeco hits the Fais Do Do Pavilion from 1:15 pm to 3:15 pm and 6 pm to 7:45 pm.
Well, folks, time to "re-sole yo dancin' shoes" 'cause one of the hottest Cajun bands to emerge from the bayous, Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys, will bring their fire and drive to the Fais Do Do Pavilion from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm and again from 8 pm until the festival closes at 10 pm.
Awards have racked up like pool balls for this Cajun phenom. In 2011, Naquin won awards for Best CD and Song of the Year at the Cajun French Music Association (CFMA) for Cravin' Cajun, and "Les Fourdoche," respectively. In 2006, he was selected as CFMA Male Vocalist of the Year. Additionally, Naquin became CFMA Accordionist of the Year in 2004, 2002 and 2000.
A new addition to the Gazebo Stage from 11 am until 12:30 pm is San Antonio's Cher La-Bas - which means, "My baby's over there!" in English. This full-fledged, authentic, dance-style, Louisiana-inspired Cajun band offers a driving Cajun rhythm, complete with a "chanky-chank" Cajun accordion, fiddle, bass guitar, drum, rhythm guitar, rub-board and accented - literally - with Cajun French vocals.
An unprepossessing gang of seven, Cher Las-Bas always says modestly, "We're just a group of good old boys who like to make music - and we do a good job of it!"
Rodney Thibodeaux and Tout Les Soir return to the Gazebo Stage from 12:45 pm to 2:45 pm and again from 5:15 pm to 7:15 pm with their special brand of traditional Cajun music.
But wait! That's not all! Thibodeaux and Tout Les Soir also offer zydeco, South Louisiana swamp pop, blues, country and '50s and '60s rock & roll. Their self-described "progressive Cajun" music is primarily traditional Cajun, but with a soupcon of spice.
Thibodeaux's talents on the Cajun squeezebox earned him a nomination from the Cajun French Music Association for Accordionist of the Year in 2000.
The Cajun Fest takes place from 11 am until 10 pm, Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Lakehills Civic Center, 11225 Park Road 37. Admission is $10 with children ages 10 years and under admitted free. For more information, visit
Y'all come, hear!
Pictured: Photo by Judith Pannebaker
Cedryl Ballou & The Zydeco Trendsetters
Photo by Judith Pannebaker
Rodney Thibodeaux & Tout Les Soir