Heading To Louisiana
Heading to Louisiana For the inaugural Zydeco Music Awards on Thursday January 20 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette. The first three Hall of Fame honorees are to be Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis and Joseph Roy Carrier. It is so great to see the long overdue recognition for Roy Carrier’s contribution to the world of Zydeco. In fact it was the current younger generation of performers that pushed for Roy to be included along with greats Clifton & Boozoo. It is these musicians that cut their teeth at Roy’s Offshore Lounge and their way to make sure his legacy lives on.
From the Zydeco Music Awards web site http://www.zydecomusicawards.com/
Roy Carrier Biography
Bebe & Calvin Carriere' backstage at Jazzfest 1999
Bebe’s first ever performance in New Orleans at the age of 96 and Roy was the one that brought them there
Joseph Roy Carrier was born in 1947 to a sharecropping family along with 8 siblings. From a hard-scrabble life, working the fields, Roy would eventually become the patriarch of the extended Carrier Family, one of the most influential music families of Southwest Louisiana. Starting with pioneering Creole fiddler Joseph Bébé Carriére, to Bebe’s younger cousin Calvin Carriére on to cousin Roy, the Carrier Family is found at critical junctures in the development of LaLa, Zydeco & Cajun music.
Roy’s father, Warren was an accordion player. At the age of six, Roy was recruited to accompany his father on scrub board (frottoir) playing LaLa at night in the living room with relatives and friends who would stop by. The passing on of music from one generation to the next is part of the tradition of Zydeco that continues today.
By the age of 10, Roy was working with his father playing house parties at night to help supplement the meager pay they earned by day in the fields. Roy soon graduated to drums and then guitar when his parents presented him a Sears Roy Rogers insignia guitar as a present. Roy’s eye though stayed focused on the accordion. Since accordions were hard to come by, Roy’s daddy wouldn’t let him play, fearing damage to his instrument. Undeterred Roy "borrowed" his daddy's accordion and taught himself to play in the barnyard. When he got caught, he got a whippin'. However, Warren understood his boy's determination and eventually allowed him to play.
In 1961 at the age of 14, Roy formed the first Night Rockers band with himself on guitar, his brother Murphy on drums, his Uncle John on scrub board and Chris Johnson on accordion. By 1962 Roy was leading the band on accordion but a farm accident cost him most of the index finger of his right hand. It would be 2 years before Roy tried to play an accordion again.
In the meantime Roy was following his idols soaking up as much pure Zydeco as he could in the clubs around Church Point, Lawtell & Opelousas. He was not old enough to enter the clubs so he would stand on a crate outside a window to watch and listen to his mentor Clifton Chenier. At 17 he picked up the double row accordion again determined to overcome the loss of his finger on his chord hand. In the process he developed a style of "crossing chords". It is a technique that is unique to Roy’s music and is one of his signature sounds.
In 1973, at the age of 26, Roy went to work on the offshore drilling platforms. The next 16 years of his life were spent in a cycle of 7 days of hard labor offshore and 7 days playing music on land. All through this period, there would be impromptu jam sessions in the barnyard that included Boozoo Chavis, Delton Broussard, John Delafose and Chris Johnson. Following the family tradition, Roy’s children, sons Chubby (Joseph Roy Jr.), Troy (Dikki Du) and daughter Elaine all became members of the Night Rockers before they were 10 years old.
Roy considered Clifton Chenier his mentor and other than his cousin Clifton, Roy's cousin, Bebe Carriere had the most influence on Roy's music. Bebe would pull out his fiddle and play whenever Roy asked. "I always would get excited watching him stomp his feet and work out on his fiddle. Accordion players would always get tired, but not Bebe. He was one of the best I ever heard."
In 1980 while still working the rigs, Roy purchased a neighborhood roadhouse in Lawtell and christened it The Offshore Lounge. 1981 marked the establishment of Thursday night Zydeco jams at Roy's Lawtell, Louisiana club.Patrons could enjoy as many as six bands for a two dollar cover charge. Throughout the 80’s it became THE place for aspiring Zydeco musicians to meet, learn and jam with other Zydeco musicians. It is difficult to find any Zydeco musicians that came of age in the 80’s and 90’s that weren’t schooled and encouraged by Roy. From helping Beau Jocque find his boogie to encouraging John Delafose to perform publicly and giving him songs in the process, to loaning equipment to Zydeco Force, to giving Geno Delafose his first paying gig, Roy was a guiding force in the development of Zydeco.
Roy’s first recordings occurred in 1987 for Lee Lavergne’s Lanore Records. From 1987 to 1992, four cassettes were produced and from that material two CDs were licensed to other labels. Some of that material can now be found on Mardi Gras Records Zydeco Soul CD. In 1989 Roy quit the offshore rigs to focus full time on his music. At the urging of his elder son Chubby who had already broken away to lead his own Bayou Swamp Band, Roy began touring outside Southwest Louisiana. His first trip to the Mid-Atlantic was in 1992 and Roy became a regular in clubs up and down the East Coast. Roy was a great chef and loved to cook for his family, friends and fans. When Roy came to town you could not only count on great music but a big pot of gumbo. Roy served up his signature dish along with sage advice on life, music,love and marriage. Along the way Roy endeared himself to countless SW Louisiana musicians, friends across the US and around the world.
In 1996 Roy began recording music for the Right on Rhythm label out of Washington DC. Five critically acclaimed CD’s resulted. Nasty Girls in 1997, Twist & Shout in 1998, Offshore Blues in 1999, Whiskey Drinkin Man in 2002 and the last one, Living Legend, licensed to Severn Records for national distribution in 2005. Real Blues Magazine recognized Roy Carrier multiple times in their Annual Real Blues Awards for being the best Zydeco Band or releasing the best Zydeco CD. Roy’s music never veered far away from the blues-based style of Zydeco’s origins and at heart Roy truly was a blues man. Roy made a few appearances at the New Orleans Heritage Festival and overseas headlined festivals in The Netherlands and France.
With Roy’s passing in 2010 the first tier of original Zydeco players are all but gone. Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis,Rockin’ Dopsie, John Delafose, Delton Broussard, Marcel Dugas all left an indelible mark on the music. Bringing up the end of that class was Roy Carrier. Performing for more than 50 years, Roy was the bridge from Zydeco’s beginnings — to where it is today. He will be missed.