Buckwheat Zydeco playing on the main stage at the 2006 Festival International de Louisiane.
|Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr.|
November 14, 1947|
Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.
September 24, 2016 (aged 68)|
Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S.
Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr. (November 14, 1947 – September 24, 2016), better known by his stage name Buckwheat Zydeco, was an American accordionist and zydeco musician. He was one of the few zydeco artists to achieve mainstream success. His music group was formally billed as Buckwheat Zydeco and Ils Sont Partis Band, but they often performed as merely Buckwheat Zydeco.
The New York Times said: "Stanley 'Buckwheat' Dural leads one of the best bands in America. A down-home and high-powered celebration, meaty and muscular with a fine-tuned sense of dynamics...propulsive rhythms, incendiary performances."USA Today called him "a zydeco trailblazer." Buckwheat Zydeco performed with a large number of famous musicians from Eric Clapton (with whom he also recorded) and U2 to the Boston Pops. The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat performed for President Clinton twice, celebrating both of his inaugurations. The band appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, CNN, The Today Show, MTV, NBC News, CBS Morning News, National Public Radio's Mountain Stage, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Dural was born in Lafayette, Louisiana as one of 13 children he had six brothers and six sisters. As a 5-years-old boy, he worked on a farm picking cotton. He acquired his nickname as a youth, because, with his braided hair, he looked like the character Buckwheat from Our Gang/The Little Rascals movies. His father, a farmer, was an accomplished amateur traditional Creole accordion player, but young Dural preferred listening to and playing rhythm and blues.
In 1971, he founded Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, a funk band that he led for five years before switching to zydeco. They were a local sensation and found success with the single, "It's Hard To Get," recorded for a local Louisiana-based label.
He began backing Clifton Chenier, one of the most legendary zydeco performers. Though not a traditional zydeco fan when growing up, Buckwheat accepted an invitation in 1976 to join Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band as organist. He quickly discovered the popularity of zydeco music, and noted the effect the music had on the audience. "Everywhere, people young and old just loved zydeco music," Dural says. "I had so much fun playing that first night with Clifton. We played for four hours and I wasn't ready to quit."
Dural's relationship with Chenier led him to take up the accordion in 1978. After practicing for a year, he felt ready to start his own band under the name Buckwheat Zydeco. They debuted with One for the Road in 1979 on the Blues Unlimited label and then recorded for New Orleans' Black Top label. In 1983, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Turning Point and in 1985 for Waitin' For My Ya Ya after switching to the Rounder Records label. The band then signed to Island Records, becoming the first zydeco act on a major label, and released On a Night Like This, a critically acclaimed album that was nominated for a Grammy as well. The band appeared in the movie The Big Easy in 1987.
In 1988, Eric Clapton invited the band to open his North American tour as well as his 12-night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall. Buckwheat subsequently shared stages and/or recording with Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, David Hidalgo, Dwight Yoakam, Paul Simon, Ry Cooder, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and many others, including indie music band Yo La Tengo on the soundtrack of the Bob Dylan bio-pic, I'm Not There. His music has been featured in films including The Waterboy, The Big Easy, Fletch Lives and Hard Target. BET's show Comic View, used his live version of "What You Gonna Do?" as theme music for the program's 10th anniversary "Pardi Gras" season. He also wrote and performed the theme music for the PBS television series Pierre Franey's Cooking In America. Buckwheat won an Emmy for his music in the CBS TV movie, Pistol Pete: The Life And Times Of Pete Maravich.
Buckwheat Zydeco played many major music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (numerous times), Chicago Blues Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Summerfest, San Diego Street Scene, Bumbershoot, Montreux Jazz Festival, the Voodoo Experience, and countless others.
During the 1990s and early 2000s Buckwheat recorded for his own Tomorrow Recordings label and maintained an extensive touring schedule. Buckwheat Zydeco's last album, Lay Your Burden Down, was released on May 5, 2009 on the Alligator Records label. It was produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and included guest appearances by guitarists Warren Haynes and Sonny Landreth, Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey and Berlin himself. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award. Sonicboomers.com says, "The CD is a vastly entertaining and appealingly diverse package. Bandleader Dural remains an ever-engaging vocalist and a whiz on any keyboard he touches. So, for Buckwheat Zydeco fans, Lay Your Burden Down finds the maestro and his group near the top of their form. For listeners with less interest in the ol' accordion get-down, the collection supplies enough interesting wrinkles to get the good times rolling."
Buckwheat Zydeco's version of the classic "Cryin' in the Streets" appears on the benefit album for Hurricane Katrina recovery, Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast. His version of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy's "When the Levee Breaks" appeared on 2011's Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection. It originally appeared on the 2009 Buckwheat Zydeco album Lay Your Burden Down.