Only a few months after playing at the DGA crawfish boil in March 2013, legendary zydeco musician Warren Prejean died on August 3, 2013 at the age of 64. Prejean, a retired truck driver, devoted much of his life to playing and promoting zydeco.
|Warren Prejean on the rub board|
Zydeco fused Cajun music with blues and R&B. Cajun music itself is a union of French, Irish, Celtic, German, Latin, and Appalachian styles. When mixed together, zydeco represents a truly American musical form. The word zydeco itself allegedly originates from a phrase spoken in the regional French, "leh-zy-dee-co sohn pah salay...") meaning roughly "the snap beans aren't salty". This phrase has been referred to as meaning "I'm so poor, I can't afford any salt meat for the beans." Zydeco music relies on a special instrument, known as a vest frottoir (or rub board). The frottoir is a percussion instrument, generally made out of pressed, corrugated stainless steel and is worn over the shoulders. A musician then drags a metal tool (or spoon or something similar) up and down the rub board to make music. Zydeco, like other native Louisiana traditions, takes the best parts of a myriad of cultures and creates something unique.
Here is Prejean with his band at the 2012 meeting of the American Society of Trial Consultants in New Orleans.
In recent years, Prejean played with the Creole Zydeco Farmers. Based in Lafayette, Louisiana and founded in 1989, the band derived its name from its style of music and the agricultural history of Lafayette parish. All of the band’s members, including Warren Prejean, have familial ties to the region. Prejean provided vocals and played the accordion. Prejean performed with the band across Canada and the United States. The Creole Zydeco Farmers have also toured in Europe with performances in Greece, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Holland. They are also a regular performer at New Orleans Jazz Fest.
RIP Warren Prejean.