December 29, 2015
6th Annual Roy Carrier Tribute Dance
Slim’s Yi Ki Ki Lounge
One of the most well-worn dance floors in southwest Louisiana is marinated in sweat and beer. A non-smoking dance hall now, years of cigarette smoking cling to every wall and corner right up to the ceiling of Slim's Yi Ki Ki in Opelousas, LA.
This is not a fancy place. In a picture dictionary, a picture of Slim’s would be beside the word “Roadhouse.” The heavy steel and plastic chairs and tables scattered around the dance floor are indestructible. I imagine that when love and jealousy collided on the dance floor the chairs have been used as truncheons and the tables have been used to hide under.
It’s fitting that the annual New Year Roy Carrier Tribute Dance takes place here, where zydeco has reigned supreme for decades. Roy, born in 1947, was a hard driving accordion player and offshore oil-rig worker. His Offshore Lounge in Lawtell, LA, was a smaller version of Slim’s, a place where Roy, who died in 2010, played for fun and was a mentor to a handful of musicians in the Zydeco universe today. Geno Delafose, the son of Roy's friend John Delafose, had his first paying gig at Roy's Offshore Lounge.
Roy purchased the Offshore Lounge in 1981. It was one of the places where traditional Creole La La music morphed into what's called zydeco today. There is no richer place on earth where so many cultures have produced so much traditional ethnic music that has become recognizable American music than southwest Louisiana.
His sons Troy and Chubby, who front Dikki Du and the Zydeco Crew and The Chubby Carrier Swamp Bayou Band, respectively, carry on the Carrier tradition. Several of their children and nephews are the next generation of Carriers that will honor their grandfather well into this century.
Since 2009, Troy Carrier of Opelousas and Dick Brainard of Portland, OR have teamed up to organize the dance, the proceeds being held to renovate Roy’s Offshore Lounge in Lawtell.
This year, Dexter Ardoin (3:00), Dikki Du (4:45), Leroy Thomas (6:15), & Jeffery Broussard (8:00) entertain. Each of them know that Roy Carrier paved the way for zydeco dancing.
Lafayette is ground zero for Zydeco dancers three times a year. Mardi Gras, the Festival Acadiens et Creole, and New Year festivities. “Where did you all come from?” Chubby asks from the stage. Responses ring out: New York, Pittsburgh, San Diego, New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, Delaware, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Harrisburg plus one woman from France and another from Ireland... and others I can't remember!
The crowd is a little more sparse this year than in past years but the energy level is high octane. The Carrier family sisters, wives, nieces and friends, cooked up a great Louisiana feed of gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, fried chicken… the kind of stick-to-your-ribs food to keep dancers on the floor for hours.
Dikki Du and Chubby joined forces to sing, “Roy Left Lawtell, And He Ain’t Comin’ Back.” Old Roy’s spirit was never more alive and well.
I missed Dexter Ardoin's set but Dikki Du, aka Troy Carrier, saluted his father Roy again and again in his set. "One of my father’s sayings was, 'If you can't do right all the time, do right some of the time,' ” Troy says to introduce a song.
The dance floor was shakin' all day. VIDEO
A rare sighting: Troy and Chubby Carrier together on stage...Papa Roy woulda loved this! They joined forces to sing,"He left Lawtell, and He Ain't Comin' Back". In the midst of this foot stomper, it felt like Roy was keeping time from above. A version by Chubby in 2013 "Found My Woman Doin' The Zydeco with Another Man"
Carrier nephew Mike Broussard on the accordion, Troy on the drums...is there any instrument the Carriers don't play?
Dancers from from all over the USA are here; this sample is from New Orleans, Lafayette, Atlanta, Harrisburg, Opelousas and ...?
Leroy Thomas rocked the house; Leroy told me his father Leo Thomas was recently honored at a Pioneers of Zydeco party, showed me a photo of 78 year-old Leo accepting the award in a brilliant ruby colored suit... that man knows how to dress!
Kensey Carrier, Elaine Carrier (Roy's daughter), Laura Carrier; Carrier family members with Marie Carrier, Roy's wife and Troy's step mother at right. The Carrier's cooked up a storm of jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice to fuel the grateful dance crowd.
NOTE: SLIM'S YI KI KI CLOSED AFTER THIS GIG, WHAT A GREAT WAY FOR THIS ICONIC BAR TO END ON. THE ROY CARRIER TRIBUTE WILL BE HELD AT THE FEED & SEED IN LAFAYETTE ON DECEMBER 27, 2016