|Thierry brings Zydeco flair to Accordion fest
The popular Cotati Accordion Festival (CAF) will squeeze in its 23rd year this weekend, Aug. 17-18. As always, crowds, families and accordion lovers alike can expect an exciting and colorful range of diverse music and performances, but this year they can expect something special: acclaimed Zydeco musician and Grammy-award-nominee Andree Thierry will be on stage performing with his band, Zydeco Magic, on Sunday.
This will be Thierry’s second time attending and performing at the CAF, though his last visit was a good 18 years ago. It is Zydeco that Thierry is known for and what seems to be his calling in music, of course, but it was the accordion and the accordion alone that he first fell in love with when he was a child listening to traditional Creole music from his grandparents’ influences. It is because of this Thierry says he finds the CAF so great.
“I really like it,” said Thierry in a telephone interview. “Zydeco is my culture, but…accordion is what I got into first, I love it. I would love to have my own accordion festival one day; I’m all for it.”
Thierry has been surrounded by accordion-based music his entire life. He grew up in the East Bay city of Richmond, where he had a father who played a lot of different instruments and grandparents straight from Louisiana, who held traditional French-Creole concerts and dances at the local church. Though his entire family was interested in their culture’s music, Thierry says he was the first one to attempt to play it.
Thierry says he was in junior high when he put together his band Zydeco Magic. Since then, the band has changed often, he said, from shifting through songs and styles to even a rotating cast of band members. Currently accompanying Thierry’s accordion are Mark Daniels on guitar, Jahon Pride on Bass, Ruben Morento on rub board and Tawan Bradford on drums.
According to Thierry, his band plays traditional songs and tunes, but also strives to keep a fresh sound that is uniquely their own. He says he loves exploring and demonstrating the range of the accordion and proving the instrument can be used for more varieties of music than just Zydeco and polka.
“I try to represent the whole spectrum of Zydeco, from the earlier stuff to now,” said Thierry. “I surprise a lot of people, though, by playing Jimi Hendrix songs. I appreciate every style of music; I don’t look down on any kind of music.”
Last year, Thierry was recognized by the Grammy Awards and nominated to receive the award for his contribution to Corey Ledet’s album, “Nothin’ but the Best.” He says his main focus currently is sharing and promoting his latest album, “Are you Ready to Learn,” and plans to play songs from that album at the festival this Sunday.
Thierry and Zydeco Magic are scheduled to play at 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the CAF on Sunday. According to Thierry, he plans on hanging out and sticking around at the festival before and after his performance to listen to the other acts and enjoy the instrument he fell in love with all those years ago and still loves to this day.