A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music
By age thirty-nine, Blair Kilpatrick had settled into life as
a practicing psychologist, wife, and mother. Then a chance encounter
in New Orleans turned her world upside down. She returned home to
Chicago with unlikely new passions for Cajun music and its defining
instrument, the accordion. Captivated by recurring dreams of playing
the Cajun accordion, she set out to master it. Yet she was not a
musician, was too self-conscious to dance, and didn't even sing
in the shower.
Kilpatrick's obsession took her from Chicago's Cajun dance scene
to a folk music camp in West Virginia, back and forth to south Louisiana,
and even to a Cajun festival in France. An unexpected family move
brought her to the San Francisco Bay Area, home to the largest Cajun-zydeco
music scene outside the Gulf Coast. There she became a protégé
of renowned accordionist Danny Poullard, a Louisiana-born Creole
and the guiding spirit of the local Louisiana French music community.
Engaging, uplifting, and illuminating a unique patch of the American
cultural landscape, Accordion Dreams is Kilpatrick's account of
the possibility of passion, risk-taking, and change-at any age.
~From the University Press of Mississippi catalog (fall-winter,
Available in January 2009
Excerpt from Chapter Three: Charivari
At first, I felt like celebrating: I finally had my hands on a
real accordion. But what I deserved was an old-fashioned Cajun "charivari"-a
mocking, raucous serenade, when the neighbors gather outside the
window of an ill-fated couple on their wedding night. It is a party
for a pair that's mismatched, or outside the bounds of propriety,
like when an old man takes a young wife or a widow remarries with
unseemly haste, or when an older couple gets together, second time
around for both of them. Once the glow fades, there you are, stuck
with the reality that falls short of your dreams.
I remembered how excited I'd felt, when Steve and I drove away
from that music store. I'd cradled my new accordion on my lap, eager
to get home and unwrap it. But now, after three months, I couldn't
deny the truth: this dance was not going smoothly.
My new accordion and I were definitely an odd couple
the 3rd chapter from Accordion Dreams
for Listening" from Accordion Dreams
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