Alphonse "Bois Sec" ArdoinVer en iTunes
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Singer and accordionist Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin was a crucial link to the musique Creole traditions of a bygone era — his music kept alive the Cajun "la la" music which developed in the African-American communities of his native southwestern Louisiana, and which was a clear antecedent of the contemporary zydeco sound. Born in rural Duralde in either 1914 or 1916, Ardoin was tagged with his nickname — translating as "Dry Wood" — because as a child he was always the first one in the fields to seek shelter during a rainstorm; born and raised as a sharecropper, farming remained the primary focus of his life even as an adult, often at the expense of his musical pursuits. He taught himself the accordion at the age of 12, inspired by the exploits of his older cousin, the famed Creole virtuoso Amedée Ardoin, who in the years to follow he regularly backed at house parties and club dates. However, unlike his cousin, Bois Sec never became a professional player — his mother was dead set against a career in music. In 1948, Ardoin teamed with fiddler Canray Fontenot, his principal collaborator in the years to follow; as the Duralde Ramblers, they became a fixture at local house parties and dances, and earned such tremendous regional success that they even played the Newport Folk Festival in 1966, the same year they cut their classic album Les Blues de Bayou for the Melodeon label. By the early '70s, Ardoin was fronting the Ardoin Brothers Band, which featured his sons Morris, Gustave and Lawrence (later the frontman of the French Zydeco Band), as well as Fontenot; after Gustave was killed in a 1974 auto accident, Ardoin appeared to lose much of his passion for music, and the following year retired from playing dances, although he continued making the infrequent live appearance for years to come.