Because It's Happy

1910

With its lilting, jubilant rhythms, zydeco music has a way of making people move. With its lilting, jubilant rhythms, zydeco music has a way of making people move. 

“I’ve seen people get out of wheelchairs or throw down their crutches and dance,” says guitarist Frank Bohan of Zydeco Flames. “Little kids who don’t know how to dance will start running in circles.” 

Bohan and his four bandmates will bring their uplifting Cajun-based grooves—accordion and rubboard included—to Sacramento Music Festival later this month in Old Sacramento. So what else is there to know about this fun band? I chatted with Bohan recently via phone to find out. 

They’ve got history here. Though the band primarily plays in the Bay Area (that’s where they’re from), they’ve got a stronghold in Sacramento. “I still remember the first time we played the Sacramento festival (then known as Sacramento Jazz Jubilee) back in 1993,” says Bohan. “People just went crazy. They were lining up to get in. I would say our greatest fans may be in Sacramento.” 

They’ve got history, period. This year marks the band’s 25th anniversary—which, as bands go, is an unusually long marriage. In that time, they’ve recorded a batch of CDs, performed in front of then-President Bill Clinton and nabbed an award for best zydeco band from the West Coast Blues Society. 

They mix it up. Though zydeco is their stock in trade, they’re not purists. “A lot of times, people say it all sounds the same, so we’ll mix it up, maybe play some straight R&B to get people dancing,” says Bohan. In the end, though, it’s “back to traditional zydeco.” 

For Bohan and the band, making music is a joyous thing— a true labor of love. “You find the path of the heart and follow it,” he says. 

Great advice for us all. 

Zydeco Flames will perform at Sacramento Music Festival, which runs Friday, May 22, through Monday, May 25. For tickets or more information, visit sacmusicfest.com or call (916) 444-2004.