SQUEEZY DOES IT

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It would have been understandable if Eddie LeJeune had never taken up music. After all, his late father Iry has been described as "the greatest Cajun performer of all time".

But when the pioneer of the infectious dance music of French-speaking Louisiana was killed in a car accident at an early age, his young son found himself immersed in a culture that was largely untouched by 1950s America. And over the past 40-odd years, he has devoted himself to it to such an extent that he is one of the stars of the international festival of accordion music being held in London next week under the title Now You Squeeze It.

The younger LeJeune (above right) has had such a wide influence that his show at Docklands's Canary Wharf on Friday (12 Sept) will see him accompanied by two Englishmen on guitar and fiddle rather than his regular band. It is a sign, he said in a telephone conversation from his Louisiana home, of the wider appeal of an idiom with which he has grown up.

The chief early influence on him was his grandmother, who told him stories about his father's life and played his music on her accordion. Soon, he was hooked on a style that combines irresistible toe-tapping tunes with songs that - though their words are barely intelligible to all but the natives - are loaded with melancholic soulfulness.

Working with his brother Ervin, he played restaurants and house parties in the swamp region of the state when his work at the rice mills, oil wells and farms permitted. Although he developed a strong following, he did not record until 1990, when his debut record Cajun Soul appeared in the midst of the explosion of international interest in this accessible form of "roots" music.

Since then, many other performers have appeared - many of them welding elements of rock'n'roll and more modern pop music to the fundamentals of the idiom. But LeJeune is adamant about staying true to his roots. "I play traditional Cajun music. It's important because it's something we need to preserve," he says. As the title of another of his records says, "It's in the Blood".

Now You Squeeze It, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) 10-13 Sept; Canary Wharf Arts and Events (0171-418 2783)

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