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Geno Delafose 

Creole cowboy incorporates hip hop

Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 p.m.
Pre-show dance lesson: 8 p.m.
Hideaway BBQ, Raleigh
Tickets: $16 in advance, $18 day of show

click to enlarge Geno Delafose
  • Geno Delafose

Here's something you don't expect to hear often from a Creole cowboy at 7 a.m., moments before he heads out to his day job tending cattle on his ranch in Eunice, La.: "I'm not really a hip-hop dude at all."

Geno Delafose is the cowboy in question, and he has been playing Zydeco since he was 7, sitting in on rub-board with his father's band. There are few pretenders in this business, and Delafose is exactly what he appears to be—a singing, accordion-playing cowboy who's really close to the land. "I'm very traditional," Delafose says. "I speak French and was brought up with the music and brought up with all the older guys."

But Delafose has changed with the times, and hip hop is something he incorporates. "There's a couple of kinda hip-hop tunes that I like, and I kinda put my little twist to it and people like 'em." Accepting a new genre into an old one is not a big thing in Zydeco. After all, it's a musical melting pot of country, swamp pop and R&B sprinkled in with traditional Cajun and Creole tunes itself.

Really, the No. 1 requisite is that the music has to be danceable. "If we can get 'em moving a little bit, then after the alcohol starts working, they ready for anything," Delafose says, laughing.

But traditional Zydeco is the still the backbone of Delafose's sound. "It's not as complicated as bluegrass music or hip hop," the accordionist says. "But it's that constant drive, the backbeat that's constantly going, makes you bob your head. Next thing you know, you've got your feet moving."

Delafose says he intends to keep up with musical trends, but that he'll also stick close to his roots by keeping his day job. "My little cattle farm will be a retirement for me," says the 34-year-old, adding he'll keep the night job, too. "I'm gonna play as long as I can, as long as people want to hear me."

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