Zydeco: It's Good For You

Zydeco: It’s Good For You

February 4, 2014  |  Cajun Zydeco, Events, Local Interest

It’s a guaranteed good time whenever Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic play, but for me there is something special about a church dance. The music brings folks together, and that sense of community matters. The celebration of Mardi Gras is an established Louisiana tradition, and it travels well. On this Saturday night, in the parish hall at St. Finn Barr Church in San Francisco, we had it all: the music, the food, the joy. Thanks to the hard work of Louis and Alice Guidry who organized the event, this had all the elements of an authentic Louisiana experience. All were welcome, and the band had everyone up and dancing. The two most coveted raffle prizes were to be named King and Queen of Mardi Gras. That was some Second Line!

Andre Thierry was born in Richmond, California, but he was raised with Louisiana Creole culture and those roots run deep. You can read his story here. As a young boy, in his grandmother’s house and at the church dances she hosted, he met some of zydeco’s brightest stars, including the King of Zydeco himself, Clifton Chenier. Andre taught himself to play the accordion, and formed his band Zydeco Magic in 1991, when he was 12 years old. They travel all over the country playing this music. This May, Andre and the band will be part of the world-famous Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans.

He’s a Grammy-nominated artist and a virtuoso on the accordion, but Andre wouldn’t miss a church dance. “It’s one of the last places where the young, middle-aged and old — everybody — can join and meet and have a good time with the zydeco. That’s where I first started going. You know you can’t bring kids, young kids, to clubs and stuff, but the churches have always been the one place that everybody can go, all ages…so that’s what it means.” This was St. Finn Barr’s 13th annual Mardi Gras fundraiser, and Andre has played them all.

The first Creoles came to northern California to work in the Kaiser shipyards during WWII. Andre knows the way of life they brought with them has value, and he’s doing his best to be sure it lives on here through the music. You don’t just listen to Andre Thierry’s zydeco. It’s an experience you share with him. At some point in the evening Andre will call out, “Somebody shout!”

Somebody always does.

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can hear Andre and the band here.




You can find upcoming gigs for Andre Theirry and Zydeco Magic here. In the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, there will be several more church dances in the area. Check it out!

Click on a thumbnail below to enlarge it and click through the gallery.



5 Comments


  1. Dorothy, I don’t know that I’ve heard a lot of Zydeco music in my life…but your wonderful stories about this unique community make me want to seek it out and learn more! :)

    Ellie oxo

  2. Beautiful photos! You’ve really brought to life this vibrant, amazing musical community. The photos make me feel as if I’m right there, and also make me want to go and hear the music live. I’m fascinated by the lively, happy scenes of people enjoying themselves, and also love the photos of the musicians, who really embody colorful, creative expression.

  3. I also forgot to mention how much I enjoyed reading what you wrote, especially about Andre Thierry–what a fascinating man with a great history. I admire him so much for bringing this historic music to life here in the Bay Area, and creating a wonderful community of music-lovers!

    • Thank you, Toni! I am really enjoying meeting these folks and hearing their stories, as well as this wonderful music. Andre is such a talent, and a true ambassador for the culture he grew up with. We are so lucky to have this community in the Bay Area.

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