Nous allons!: XPN's Zydeco Crossroads ends Saturday with dance party at Union Transfer

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Keith Frank with his Soileau Zydeco Band at "Zydeco Crossroads Weekend" in October. A show-ending dance party is Saturday.

All good things come to an end.

Really good things, however, might need multiple endings.

WXPN-FM's Zydeco Crossroads program, originally set to conclude with its grand finale weekend in October, will return one last time (this time for sure!) for a free "Zydeco Crossroads Dance Party" on Saturday at Union Transfer.

"We knew there would be a good reaction," WXPN program director Bruce Warren said of the program. "We just didn't realize how good of a reaction there would be."

Zydeco Crossroads, a 16-month partnership between WXPN and KRVS Radio Acadie public radio in Lafayette, La., aims to raise awareness of zydeco, a fast-moving, heel-kicking, bluesy genre with southwest Louisiana roots.

Philadelphia's zydeco lovers (there are a lot of them, Warren said) can dance the afternoon away to the energetic, funky rhythms of Louisiana's Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. The Grammy-winning group was set to perform at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August but had to cancel because of travel issues.

"We wanted to have the show with Chubby because he's an incredible performer and important performer in the world of zydeco," Warren said.

Since its July 2014 kickoff performance with C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band at the XPoNential Music Festival, Zydeco Crossroads has featured eight events, including an October 2014 show in Lafayette, La. - "ground zero" for zydeco music, Warren said.

WXPN and KRVS produced 12 hours of zydeco shows, broadcast from venues such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, World Cafe Live, and Penns Landing Caterers. With support from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, WXPN also launched a Web page dedicated to zydeco history, featuring interviews, essays, music streams, audio and video clips, and performance footage.

"We wanted a genre that was underserved, something that we had a sense our audience would connect with," Warren said. "Zydeco is a musical expression of a certain culture. It combines elements of French music, African American music, R&B, and blues. It's a rich stew, like a jambalaya of music, and we felt we had a number of different platforms that we could use to expose people to it."

Zydeco Crossroads featured some of the top names in zydeco music, such as Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, Marcus Ardoin and Da Zydeco Legendz, Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band, and Leon Chavis and the Zydeco Flames.

When deciding which bands to book, WXPN worked closely with Allons Danser, an organization that prides itself on being "Philly's home for Cajun and zydeco music and dance."

"Zydeco bands love Philly," Allons Danser committee member Terry Spross said. "And Crossroads really helped that out. We typically draw 130 to 150 people at our events, and these events were drawing 600."

Herman Fuselier, 53, hosts The Zydeco Stomp, a weekly zydeco show on KRVS. Warren said KRVS helped WXPN "connect the dots."

"When Bruce Warren called me, he didn't have to ask me twice," Fuselier said by phone from Louisiana. "I was thrilled when he called."

Fuselier is from Opelousas, La., a small town known for its reputation as the birthplace of famed zydeco artists, such as accordion master Clifton Chenier, the recipient of a posthumous Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2014.

Zydeco Crossroads hosted a live broadcast in Lafayette's Blue Moon Saloon & Guest House, which featured Fuselier and WXPN's World Cafe host David Dye.

"Some people born and raised here think it's something that's just here - they don't realize it has a following," Fuselier said. "Just last week I had a lady ask me, 'Zydeco in Philadelphia - why is that?'

"I think it's just another pat on the back for the music and culture. A lot of Louisiana people have moved and brought the music and culture with them. The growth has been really pleasing to see."

The Zydeco Crossroads Grand Finale Weekend, held Oct. 23-24, featured five zydeco bands, including Rosie Ledet, one of the few widely known female artists in the genre. It also featured the debut of Zydeco Crossroads: A Tale of Two Cities, a recently completed 87-minute documentary about the project by filmmaker Robert Mugge.

Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band have performed internationally since 1989. Chubby's father and grandfather, Roy Carrier and Warren Carrier, respectively, were successful zydeco artists. Zydeco tradition and culture is often carried throughout families.

"I'm the third generation of zydeco music," Chubby Carrier said over the phone from his home in Lafayette. "It means a lot to me. It comes from my culture, my heritage, and my tradition, and I'm trying to keep that tradition alive."

He said zydeco fans could expect a lot of "shake-your-booty" music on Saturday.

"It's a good way to unwind if you've had a long week of work," he said. "It's going to put a smile on your face."

csasko@phillynews.com


DANCE PARTY

"Zydeco Crossroads Dance Party" with Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band

2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St.

Admission: Free, but registration is required at www.xpn.org/zydeco-crossroads-dance-party.