MUSIC : Zydeco Deluge : John Delafose and the Eunice Playboys will make three stops in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
He looks like Eddie Murray--wait--maybe it is Eddie Murray just covering his bases in case the Dodgers don’t do it. An accordion-playing Hall of Famer-to-be first baseman?
No, it’s really John Delafose, the latest in a wave of zydeco artists touring the 805 area code who leave in their wake a swarm of swooning and sweaty dancers. Delafose will play three times in our area in the coming week, including a thoughtful Tuesday night gig at Felix’s Cantina that will conflict with no football games whatsoever.
Delafose and his five-member band, the Eunice Playboys, all from Louisiana, will make their first local stop at Plaza Park in Ventura on Saturday as part of the Ventura Music Celebration.
Then, after a day off, the band will do the Blue Monday thing at Alexander’s in Ventura, then head north to Santa Barbara.
“We spend about three months a year on the road,” Delafose said in a recent phone interview from that port city north of Los Angeles, home to several Giants’ fans.
“We’re just driving around in a van,” he said. “We’ll be back home on the 29th, then maybe take it easy, stay off the road for a while. We’ve been in pretty near every state, I guess. Traveling, you get to see a lot of people, but you don’t get a lot of sleep. It’s a job.”
Delafose, in his early 50s, has been doing zydeco since he was 18 years old and has five albums to date. Don’t expect him to do two albums at once like Guns N’ Roses or one every 10 years like Boston.
“The last one came out about a year-and-a-half ago on Rounder. Another one should be out around November, also on Rounder. I may have a couple of them for sale when I play, but we’re traveling light.”
A good portion of the soundtrack for Mardi Gras, zydeco seems to be taking off after being a well-kept secret--at least in the musical mainstream--for about 40 years. And, nope, a Eunice Playboy is not a girlie magazine from Louisiana or a stud with a funny name.
“A Eunice Playboy is just a name for the gang, the band, there’s five of them,” said Delafose. “Eunice is a small town, about 18,000 people. We play regular back home--three or four nights per week. There’s a lot of zydeco bands in Louisiana. Too many. There’s really a lot of competition. You always have to improve; you can’t just stay in the same place. We do zydeco. We stick to business. We cut up and laugh and we tear it up.”
Like many others, he got the zydeco bug from Clifton Chenier, who gave the genre its name.
Since the summer that never was began, there has been a lengthy list of zydeco talent that has stopped to play under our fog. The enterprising zydeco fan might already have seen C.J. Chenier, Wayne Toups, Queen Ida, Nathan Williams and plenty of others.
“Zydeco is what’s happening now,” said Delafose. “It’s getting bigger and bigger all the time and seems to be spreading out everywhere. Everybody’s getting into zydeco in different states, not just Louisiana.
“We do it all--zydeco, Cajun, a bit of rock, a bit of blues, name it. Whatever we do, people love it. They dance. When we play, the place is packed with everybody that’s able to get in--big, small, young, old, black, white. It’s dancing music, man.”
* WHERE AND WHEN
John Delafose and the Eunice Playboys at Felix’s Cantina (a.k.a. Shake) 525 State St., Santa Barbara, 962-1432, Tuesday night, 8:30, $8.