AARP Prime Time Radio is the distributor for Zydeco Nation. Fiscal sponsorship is provided by Deep Springs College and the International Documentary Association. This project was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, an independent non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information, visit www.calhum.org.
The 32-year-old star of the West Coast zydeco scene, Andre Thierry has deep roots in the culture. His parents and grandparents were all part of the migration of Louisiana Creoles to Northern California. Thierry spent much of his childhood living with his maternal grandparents, Houston and Lena Pitre, who organized the famous dances at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Richmond. Thierry would be present when visiting musicians like Clifton Chenier stayed at the Pitre home, and Chenier correctly predicted that Thierry would be a great accordionist because of his long arms.
By the time Thierry was eleven, he was performing at the 23 Club in Brisbane, California. More than two decades later, his band Zydeco Magic performs several nights a week—at clubs, festivals, fraternal-hall dances, and parties in California and elsewhere. In this clip, Thierry reminiscences about how his grandparents recreated rural Louisiana at their California home.