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Homegrown Plus: Cedric Watson Trio

A man plays the button accordion

Cedric Watson onstage in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, July 25, 2019. Photo by Stephen Winick.

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with Cedric Watson, a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist, and songwriter. Watson is one of the brightest contemporary talents to emerge in Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music over the last decade. Cedric was born in 1983 and grew up in San Felipe, Texas, surrounded by the blues, old soul, country, and zydeco music.

Though hip-hop was then popular with his peers, Cedric developed an affinity for the old-style French songs of Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. He soon found himself in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he became part of the musical community and began contributing to the continuity of Creole music, quickly immersing himself in French music and language. Over the next several years, Cedric performed French music in 17 countries with various groups, including Corey Ledet, Les Amis Creole with Ed Poullard and J.B. Adams, and the Pine Leaf Boys; with this last group he added a Creole and Zydeco foundation to their Southwest Louisiana sound. He has played with some of the great names in Creole music, including Dexter Ardoin and the Creole Ramblers and Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. Cedric continues to explore the roots of Louisiana’s Creole music with his own band, Bijou Creole. Cedric’s creative style and obvious joy in playing make him an engaging and exciting performer. He makes the audience get up and dance–which certainly happened in the Coolidge Auditorium! See for yourself in the player below!

The Cedric Watson Trio also includes multi-instrumentalist Chris Stafford (of the band Feufollet) and rubboardist Desireé Champagne. Chris Stafford comes from a family with a long history in Cajun music. A great-uncle of his, Jesse Stafford, was recorded by John and Alan Lomax in 1934, and those recordings are here in the American Folklife Center archive.  Stafford’s immediate family also listened to Cajun music among other types, and he got his start as a musician early. His band Feufollet has long been at the forefront of their generation of Cajun music.

A man plays the fiddle

Chris Stafford onstage with the Cedric Watson Trio in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, July 25, 2019. Photo by Stephen Winick.

Desiree Champagne got her start playing flute and guitar, but she now specializes in the traditional percussion instruments of Creole and Cajun music, frottoir (rub-board) and ti-fer (triangle). She has been collaborating with Cedric Watson for several years, and she is also in his larger band, Bijou Creole.

A woman plays the Cajun triangle.

Desiree Champagne onstage with the Cedric Watson Trio in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, July 25, 2019. Photo by Stephen Winick.

In the interview I spoke with all three musicians about their musical histories, and also their feelings about the relationships among the styles of South Louisiana music variously called “Cajun,” “Creole,” “French,” and “Zydeco.” Watch the interview in the player below!

You can find both of these videos with more bibliographic information on the Library of Congress website, with the concert here at this link and the oral history at this link.

Read more about Cedric and his bands at his website.

The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress.  For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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