Sean Ardoin is a fourth-generation Creole accordion. But he’s here to tell you, “I’m going to the artist I want to be.” The Ardoin name is truly Creole royalty. The legacy started with legendary Creole musician Amedee’ Ardoin, the first Louisiana Creole accordionist to record; followed by Bois Sec Ardoin, to Sean’s father, Lawrence “Black” Ardoin and the Ardoin Brothers, and then to Sean.
Sean represents both the rural roots and progressive future of Louisiana’s Creole-Zydeco sound like no other artist. He’s truly one of Zydeco’s “triple threats.” He’s a rare combination of tradition, talent and creativity. He also works hard to keep the tradition alive with his super group Creole United and founded the Creole Hall of Fame in order to recognize the Creole contribution to the world. Sean has finished his latest release- “Kreole Rock and Soul” (released on September 14, 2018). He sees it as a way to escape the confines of the traditional Zydeco idiom. He’s always been a cutting edge creative force, but this new genre will enable him to fly free and explore this new genre’s bright future.
Ardoin may have a serious pedigree in Louisiana’s often underappreciated Creole tradition but he uses that as a jumping off point to invent new approaches, without abandoning all the goodness he and his forebears have cultivated. Ardoin calls the new genre, Kreole Rock and Soul, a roots-based sound that embraces and incorporates contemporary pop and classic rock. He lays it down full of tasty accordion licks, catchy songs, and a brash, upbeat attitude that inspires as it persuades you to get up and dance.
Though it all pivots on Ardoin’s quicksilver accordion and earthy, expressive voice, Ardoin’s signature style ropes in acoustic guitar, fresh songwriting, and electronic elements–something Creole artists have been exploring for over a decade at Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas’ festivals and trail rides. “What you hear on the touring circuit is way more traditional than what you’d hear at current Creole events,” explains Ardoin. “Creole music, Zydeco and now Kreole Rock and Soul is just one part of that, it’s living music, and living music is always changing.”
He knows there are a few things that you have to have, to have a good Creole song. “You have to have the accordion,” he laughs. “That’s the center of it all. The accordion makes the Creole sound.” You have other important instruments, like the washboard. And you’ll have a specific rhythmic sensibility, a rhythmic center that Ardoin has heard popping up in pop music in recent years. “When I heard Pharrell’s ‘Happy,’ I heard a Creole song, because it had that rhythmic center,” Ardoin states.
He heard a similar affinity in a range of songs on Kreole Rock & Soul, from The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” and Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra” to Estelle’s “Do My Thing.” “I’ll hear certain songs and think, that’s a zydeco song, just without the scrub board and accordion. They’ll have the right time signature and the basic beat. It’s in the consciousness of the music industry right now. I believe we’re poised to finally get our moment in the sun. We Creole folks have the swag, the food, the dance, and the language. We just need to reach people outside our community,” one reason the album’s songs are all in English.
Ardoin reaches out by blending what he heard from his first moments growing up in a musical family with decades of open-eared listening. He brings southern rock sensibilities into tracks like “Kick Rocks,” and that special R&B ballad vibe on tracks like “Butterfly,” a tribute to Ardoin’s wife that brings back the old tradition of the Creole slow dance, often called “buckle shining.” He keeps family tradition alive, co-writing with his son on tracks like “Overdosed,” while giving some love to close musician friends like fellow Southern Louisiana singer-songwriter Cory Landry on tracks like “What Do You Want to Do.” Lots of musicians have written songs about their mom in the past. Ardoin adds his own with “Mama.” He conveys the story of his relationship with his mother, combined with a rock melody and soulful vocals.
“As a constant self-assessor and observer, you have to recognize trends. You have to ask how you can break through the rigid assumptions and get to the point where they will listen to you, so that you regain control of the narrative,” Ardoin reflects. “I thought about it a long time, and I was like you know what? Kreole Rock and Soul. That describes what I do, and that can bring people to what I do. Now, I can bring them to Louisiana, on our own terms.”
Sean is ready to bring the Kreole Rock and Soul experience to world. His latest album is a calling card, a road map to a new Creole style that honors Ardoin’s deep rural roots in spirited cosmopolitan ways. This is a fun album with bright melodies. Kreole Rock and Soul is now available everywhere on September 14, 2018.
You can find it here:
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