Other Zydeco Notables

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Danny Poullard

Daniel Poullard was Born January 10, 1938 in Ritchie, near Eunice, Louisiana. His father, John Poullard, and his mother, Dorsina Guillory Poullard, brought him into a musical family.

All the men in John Poullard's family played music: John's father was a fiddler, and John's brothers and cousins played Creole and some Cajun accordian.


He occasionally sat in with Amede Cajun and Creole music to this day. John also played at dance halls and later at festivals.

He and Suzy Thompson formed the California Cajun Orchestra in approximately 1983. In 1990, the group collaborated with "D.L. Menard on a cut for the soundtrack of the documentary film, J'Ete Au Bal, for which they used the name "D.L. Menard with the the California Cajuns."


Joe Simien

West Coast pioneer Joe Simien is an esteemed Louisiana French accordionist who lives in Los Angeles. Joe was born on October 3, 1923, in Le Beau, Louisiana. Joe's father kept two accordians on the kitchen floor and everyone in the family was permitted and inclined to pick one up and play a little.

Joe tells how he came to play the accordian again after he had moved to California. John Simien was friends with rub board player Charlie St. Mary.


Ambrose Sam

Ambrose Sam is One of the first men to have played zydeco music in Los Angeles. He continues to live and perform there today. Born on Carencro Bayou and raised in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Ambrose Sam grew up with a famil music tradition which he would eventually carry West.


Ambrose created his own style of zydeco by mixing his father's music with other styles. Moise Sam was very pleased that Ambrose was playing the accordian. Rather than reproach him for departing form the old traditional style, Moise encouraged Ambrose to develop his own style. Today Ambrose can play the double-raw, triple-raw, and piano accordian, and with these he can play "any kind of music-old-time zydeco, rock and roll, blues, and jazz."

at the age of twenty Ambrose married Gladys Fontenot, and he later moved with her to Los Angeles in 1953. He had heard he could find a better job in California, and he had also heard that California was short on accordian players. He started out playing Louisiana French music with the Perkins Brothers, in garages, for private parties, at small clubs, and eventually at church dances.

In 1974 Ambrose sold his home in Los Angeles and moved back to Louisiana with his second wife, Enola Guillory, He built a new house in Opelousas, and continued playing music in the Opelousas area. Enola Guillory passed away, and Ambrose eventually returned to live in the Los Angeles area. Today Ambrose Sam has nine children in all.


Charlie St. Mary

Vocalist and rub board player Charlie St. Mary was born near Lake Charles, Louisiana. His parents, Arsene and Sady St. Mary, raised their fourteen children on Li'l Indian Bayou. According to Charlie, Arsene St. Mary was a fiddler who "never did play the real stomp down zydeco." Rather he played "off the wall music" like "Saute Crapaud (Jump Frog)".

Charlie explains how early rub board players in Louisiana played on boards actually intended for laundry, with spoons, can openers, and other items for scrapers. The boards stood on two legs, and rub board players placed one leg on each side of his or her own.

"It didn't sound too good, it was kinda rough." Then musicians began making boards out of tin, which could be worn around the neck: "We cut it out and put a piece of string in it. It had a little steel in it so it would sound a little better.

"Today Charlie gets his rub boards from his nephew in Reno, Louis St. Mary, who makes boards from steel. Charlie notes that while modern steel boards produce the best sound, many boards commercially available today have a high tin content and do not produce a sound as pleasing as that of a steel board. Charlie's favorite scrapers are bottle openers.

Charlie took the train to California in 1964 and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. He worked for Seco Steel and played rub board on weekends with John Simien and the Opelousas Playboys.

He played with Elridge Thibodeaux of Lake Charles whenever Elridge made trips to California. He also took trips to Los Angeles to play with Joe Simien. Charlie began playing the rub board with Danny Poullard and the California Cajun Orchestra in approximately 1983.

In addition to his playing the frottoir, Charlie has come to be known for his vocals and his "hollers". When a recent medical procedure caused his voice to grow hoarse, Charlie explained that he couldn't wait for his voice to recover so that he could go back to hollering. Today Charlie and his wife Theresa make their home in Sacramento.


Hé, Là- Bas!
A History of Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Music in California
By: Freida Marie Fusilier
Jolene M. Adams

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