Zydeco music legend Step Rideau will play the Crosby Festival

A washboard, guitar, accordion and sitting on the front porch spawned one of the South’s greatest musical revivals in the French-Creole tradition of Zydeco music in the 1950s. At the pinnacle of this marriage of rock and roll and rhythm and blues in southwest Louisiana was the legendary Step Rideau, who will appear at the Crosby Zydeco Festival on April 1-2.

“It’s an all-star lineup,” said festival organizer Troy Barrett. “We have two legends on Sunday – Keith Frank from Louisiana and Step Rideau from Texas.”

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Both have been in the industry for decades and draw fans from across the region and beyond, Barrett said.

“We are expecting record crowds for this event,” he said.

Gates open at noon on both days, with the show starting at 4pm on Saturday and running until 11.30pm

On Sundays, the show starts at 3:00 PM and closes at 6:30 PM

Both days of the festival will be at the Crosby Fair and Rodeo, 14920 FM 2100 in Crosby.

The event features 20 food and craft vendors from Louisiana and Texas with lots of crawfish and stellar entertainment.

Zydeco legend Step Rideau recalled his introduction to music, which he says made his body move.

He has great memories of his grandparents who lived next door to each other in rural Louisiana.

“After working in the fields, my grandfather would take his Fender amp out on the front porch in the evenings and play some tunes. My mother sang in the choir, so music is in my genes on my mother’s side,” he said.

Many times, families would move what little furniture they had out of the house, he said, and invite the neighbors over for a house dance.

“They used an accordion and the washboard they used to wash their clothes to keep the beat. The dances, he said, were called la las.’

Rideau describes the genre as a mix of up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll, double beats and clicking, he said.

“That’s what Zydeco means,”beans,’ or beans,’ he said, referring to the hard times. The main instruments were the accordion and the washing machine, along with the electric guitar, bass guitar and drums. Some bands also add keyboards and saxophone.

“I started playing music at 24 as an adult, my first job being a car mechanic,” he said. He was born and raised in Lebo, Louisiana as a farmer and worked for a Chevrolet dealership in Lafayette for three years in the late 1980s.

The oil crisis caused him and others in southwest Louisiana to flee for work.

“I moved to Houston,” he said, where he had many relatives in the construction business to work with for several years.

Zydeco was on the rise during those years, he said, with many churches hosting dances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“I went out and saw Boozoo Chavis and the Magic Sounds and he was the one who really inspired me and lit a fire under me,” he said.

Motivated by Boozoo’s fun energy on stage and the charisma that captivates the young Rideau, he goes out, gets his own accordion, and begins teaching himself how to play.

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By 1991, he had formed his own band, Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws.

They practiced in the garage like many thriving bands in those days and also used an empty house next door.

“I even used it once just to recruit two musicians, one of whom has been my drummer for 27 years now,” he said. “His family is also from Louisiana and he has a passion for this music.”

After a few practices, Stepp said they were ready to hit the road.

Their first concert was at St. Monica Catholic Church at Acres Homes in Houston.

“After that word of mouth spread that we were a good group and we started to gain a good reputation,” he said.

His career really took off when his idol, Chavis, not only complimented him but booked him for his festivals quite a few times before he passed away.

“He told me, ‘Man, I’m proud of you. You have it. That was one hell of a compliment,” he said.

The success led to their first tape, “Here comes Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws” in 1994.

His catalog now includes eight CDs and numerous singles, three in the last two years.

His landmark album is “Standing Room Only”, which was released in 1998 and remains popular with music fans.

“At first it was a couple here and there on the weekends, but then they booked us on Thursdays and then Wednesdays,” he said. It was too hard to handle working full-time, so he took the leap and went full-time.

In October he will celebrate 32 years in the music industry and the phone keeps ringing and the bookings are solid.

He now performs about 100 festivals a year and numerous private events, dances and club shows, mostly in Texas and Louisiana.

Fans can hear Rideau with tickets available online at thecrosbyzydecofest.com or by calling 713-705-0989. Interested vendors can email [email protected] for more information. Tickets are $25 for Saturday and $30 for Sunday.

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