Recently I learned the Louisiana slogan; “Come as you are, leave different”. My experiences over the last two years don’t quite subscribe to this ‘feeling’ anymore. Hairline cracks have appeared in ‘that’ feeling, however, I know exactly how this came about, it came hitchhiking on the back of the ‘new normal’ which is not normal at all and which I resist, with everything I have, that this is ever going to be ‘new normal’.
My first introduction to the Zydeco as a Deejay was the song that made a tipparade listing in 1978 by Clifton Chenier; “Keep on knockin’, but you can’t come in”, especially the French language version, which I could barely pronounce as a deejay, it had something magical, a party feeling that you couldn’t stand still on. “Tu Peux Cogner Mais Tu Peux Pas Rentrer”, the French version became a much played song in the discotheque. This was my first introduction to Zydeco and it would have a long lasting influence on my life.
At the beginning of the nineties, a local band in the south of the country changed its name from the “River Band” to the “River Zydeco Band”. On the market square drummer Frits Loonen gave me a cassette tape with four songs on it. Everywhere they played there was a full house atmosphere, I heard. I didn’t have the time because I was working as a DJ those evenings. In 1993 the band and their already active fan club immediately organized a Cajun and Zydeco Festival. I myself presented the “Veerse dag festival” for about ten years and the organizer dragged the presentation team along to present the C&Z festival in 1995. I was quickly sold on the zydeco in particular. The next year I was already on stage singing my song “I have a money tree in my garden” with the group Louisiana Radio. Over the next few years I went to Cajun and Zydeco dance lessons with Gary Hayman, Phil Underwood, Mary Elms, Harold Guillory and others. Soon I also found the Cajun music much more enjoyable now that I had learned to dance. Festivals all over Europe were visited and I had become a full-time member of the ‘C&Z family’.
Fast forward to 2019, we had just finished a successful edition of the 27th ZydecoZity festival and that winter from France the group Ton Ton Gris Gris came to play at the Beer Advertising Cafe. Because I am very politically aware and active with my weekly radio program and podcast dotcom.radio I had given singer Guy Ott a yellow vest and he put it on on stage. Later in the interview this was also briefly touched upon.
Later that week I was summoned by the board of the festival to ask if I could keep politics and music separate from now on. Ok, but actually quite strange I thought, music has always been an outlet and I myself had already recorded two protest songs with the River Zydeco Band. “Here’s to Your Health” and “Hope Comes in the Dark“. “A hair trigger because, after all, I was robbed of a piece of free opinion expression.
By now I had emigrated to France and was making my ZydecoZity radio program from there, when on March 17, 2020 at 12 noon the first lockdown was set I knew exactly what was happening from the very first moment. This is a false flag operation to institute global dictatorship according to the agenda 21 plan. I had been informed for years through virologist Stefan Lanka that a live virus did not exist and that an outright assault on our freedom was now taking place. This needed to be stated as fears struck society about the “deadly virus” that had been patented years before. So I decided that I could no longer remain silent, and although this was limited to a single announcement in the two-hour elderly program it turned out that the board totally disagreed with my approach.
I can’t keep quiet, what I know everyone should know, that little hair crack became a fat crack, I decided to quit my program, my passion of the past 25 years, not a light decision.
Once in France, a little bit settled, it started to itch again and I applied at the regional radio FDL, because in all of France, the roots of the Cajun, there was no radio program dedicated to this music. At FDL they were also charmed by the music after listening to an old radio recording from the Netherlands. After the preparations and recording of jingle’s we started energetically on December 2, 2020 and after a few months on the evening shows, the broadcast was not only on Tuesday evenings but also on Sunday afternoons. Partly thanks to the French cultural input.
That whole culture of music that was the everyday life before the dictatorship had been wiped out. France is a country where protesting and standing up for your rights is in the genes like no other in the world and only because of the lockdown, the confinement, the weekly “yellow vest” protests were nipped in the bud, but not in the bud, that discontent was steadily festering under the skin. Cautiously some announcements were made on the radio in English but also in French, Van Morison’s hit; “Baby please don’t go was played in June 2021 followed by; “No more lockdowns” a song which for convenience was renamed cajun music. My own protest songs were played on the radio after that and when in July the weekly protests started again in full force in France, in which I also participated, my program was recorded non-stop on August 10 in protest with a short statement at the beginning. Whatever the consequences, I felt I had to do this! Each week the feeling of having fun with the music on the radio prevailed but the serious note was always briefly touched upon.
You have to know that many people here are really scared and also go through ‘life’ outside and alone in the car with a mask on, the propaganda machine has done its job very well here. However, at the demonstrations where I have also spoken a few times with the help of an interpreter, they are fully aware of the plan to introduce the China style “Social Credit System”.
On September 4th there was to be a live gig, for the first time in two years by the local band Blue Bayou, also the organizers of the famous Saulieu festival and later the follow-up version in Saint Sernin du Bois. The band played every other year at the ZydecoZity festival so every year hands were shaken when I announced the band on stage or whether we were meeting here in France.
Just this month the Pass Sanitaire had come into effect and with it, apartheid had taken hold here. Technically, everyone must be vaccinated or tested negative which applies to every visitor, staff as well as artist.
The location of the performance was on a terrace which was located exactly next to the gathering point of the weekly event where both the start and end point were. I walked by with a big protest sign and my washboard to also make some “noise” together with some others.
At that moment the band was just unloading and building up the installation, I had both hands full, but I could have put that away too, I felt a distance, …
… and no one from the band spoke to me either, beyond a friendly nod, no one inquired how it was now for my that I was living in their country, no one made a comment that I had started at the radio to promote their music there, could promote their festival.
I was already at our meeting point when I realized what had just happened, the distance I felt came from both sides, even the band members did not know how to deal with the new situation of apartheid, of keeping their distance. I had a short conversation with the bandleader, but of course he was also busy building up to be in time. Later, after the demonstration, the band was already playing and going to watch or dance nearby, it had become forbidden territory without the Pass Sanitaire as a consciously unvaccinated person. A strange surreal feeling of ‘not normal’.
Fed up by now with new energy, we must not let this happen, part of our ‘family’ fallen to the propaganda machine, part of ‘our lives’ no longer normal. The following week there were three men who were beating their drums lustily and skilfully, and I joined in on the washboard, I know where their unbridled energy came from, the discontent to counterbalance the situation that had arisen. This energy, the dictatorship is never going to suppress it, after all, isn’t a part of the Cajun and Zydeco culture also formed by oppression and a slave past?