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About Jean-Pierre Blanchard Zydeco Band
My name is Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Originally from France, I moved in 1972 with my family to Houston, Texas, and I have spent the years since absorbing the music and culture of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. After several years in Houston, I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, and I eventually landed in Austin, Texas, where I live now with my wife and two kids.
When, as a teenager, I first arrived in Houston, I had already begun playing harmonica and had fallen under the influence of American blues greats, especially the undisputed king of blues harmonica, Little Walter Jacobs. I had not lived in Houston long before I discovered another unique form of American music: zydeco. Clifton Chenier and others with similar styles used to play frequently in Houston, especially in the area known as French Town. Influenced by what I heard, I began playing accordion and eventually put together my first Zydeco band, which went on to win recognition and awards from the local press.
When I first began playing zydeco, the music was not widely known among the general American public, and there were not that many zydeco bands. In the years since, zydeco has become more popular, the number of zydeco bands has increased, and, as represented by some artists, the style of zydeco has changed. These days many zydeco fans are only familiar with the newer style of the music, usually played on the Cajun accordion, but I still play the older style that was established by Clifton Chenier years ago. I like the older style because the music has different beats and rhythms and it is played on the big accordion, which is not as musically limited as the Cajun accordion.
Before Clifton Chenier passed on in 1987, I crossed paths with him many times and became friends with him. When we talked, we would speak in French. I spent a lot of time watching and listening to him play, too, studying his accordion technique and paying attention to how he led his band and captivated his audience. Clif was simply the best there ever was, and he will always be my main zydeco influence. I could play the newer styles, and I do occasionally perform on the Cajun accordion, but it’s the older style and the big accordion that really turn me on. To me, the older style of zydeco is like a trusted gumbo recipe—why change it?
These days my band, Jean-Pierre and the Zydeco Angels, is based here in Austin. I shared the stage with CLIFTON CHENIER , BUCKWEAT ZYDECO, FATS DOMINO, ZACHARY RICHARD, WAYNE TROUPS, DOUG KERSHAW, ROCKING DUPSEY and many others. I played many major Festivals all over Louisiana and Texas, Mardi Gras Festivals, Clubs etc.. Laissez Les Bon temps Rouler, Cher !! Jean-Pierre Blanchard