Alt-Day Sunday: Beau Jocque & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers – “Give Him Cornbread”

If you asked me to describe “Zydeco Music,” my best description would be country and blues music played with an accordion and washboard. Yes, the one they used to wash clothes with is as important as lead guitar or drums in a Zydeco band. It’s the music I grew up with family in Natchitoches and Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s the soundtrack to several family gatherings, seafood boils, and trail rides.

My Dad was a huge fan of Beau Jocque. He played his cassette tape in his Eldorado Cadillac quite often and yes, I am old enough to remember cassette being played in my lifetime. Born Andrus Espre in Duralde, Louisiana, Beau Jocque, meaning “Big Guy” in Louisiana Creole, was/continues to be a legend in the genre since his passing at the age of 45 on September 10th, 1999. Even though his Father, “Tee Toe” was an accordion player highly respected in their hometown, Beau Jocque played the guitar in high school and was inspired by James Brown, ZZ Top, Sly and the Family Stone, and Santana. After service in the air force, Beau worked on an oil refinery until an accident left him temporarily paralyzed in 1987. As part of his physical therapy, he began to play his Father’s accordion and would start a Zydeco band with his wife, Michelle, a year later and the rest is Louisiana History.

Beau Jocque & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers made their last late-night television appearance on a special New Orleans episode of The Late Show with David Letterman on May 15, 1998. Skip to the 38:15 mark for their performance of the title track from their 1996 album, “Gonna Take You Downtown.”