My Interview w/ Zydeco Legend Preston Frank

May 21, 2013 Watertown, MA

Photo Credits: Frank Pinter

Interview: 5/21/2013

Prince: Hello Everyone. I’m in Watertown, Ma speaking with the Legendary Zydeco Artist Preston Frank, to learn about Zydeco and his music. So thank you once again Mr. Preston Frank for sitting down with me to discuss about Zydeco Music.

Preston Frank: (Head Nod)

Prince: So please Mr. Frank, introduce yourself and your music to my audience.

PF: Well my name is Preston Frank, and I am from Louisiana. In a community called “Swallow” [Soileau]. I’m halfway between Lafayette and Lake Charles.

Prince: Great! And you are Creole too, is that correct?

PF: Yeah (laughing) I speak Creole [Creole French]; so I have too. C’mon now (laughing)

Prince: Okay! (laughing) So tell me, “What is Zydeco?”

PF: Zydeco is like a “Snap Bean”

Prince: A what? A “Snap Bean?” I do not know what that is?

PF: You don’t know what a “Snap Bean” is? (laughing)

Prince: No, but that’s why I’m here: to learn about Zydeco

20130523-234015.jpgPF: Well that’s the term we use for Zydeco–Clifton was the one who named it “Zydeco.” Anyways, I play more of the Creole Zydeco Rhythm. It’s got Rhythm and Blues, etc.

Prince: Great! So how long have you been playing Zydeco?

PF: (Pause) Over 30 some years. But I don’t just do this [Zydeco] for a living—I have regular job for living.

Prince: (Laughing) Really?

PF: I don’t depend on music for a living—I work at a plywood plant.

Prince: Nothing wrong with a paying job. (Smiling) So what types of musical instruments are in Zydeco?

PF: There’s guitar, bass, drums, scrub board [washboard], and fiddles. But the way I play is “Creole fiddlin.”

Prince: I understand that Zydeco has been your family for generations and generations; but can you tell me of a personal story of how you got into Zydeco?

20130520-010930.jpgPF: I got started with my dad and my uncles. I’m the fourth generation in my family to play Zydeco music. My kids are 5th Generation and my dad was the 3rd generation. When I was young, I wasn’t really interested in playing Zydeco. But when I bought [me] an accordion everything changed. My dad started helping me with songs, when I had no clue what they meant; but that’s how I got started. Then my kids came along, and I taught them at a very young age. My oldest son [Keith Frank] does it for a living but we don’t play that much because I don’t do it for living. We have played together, and we would have played tonight, but things happen.

Prince: Okay so tell me the influence behind Zydeco?

PF: It’s got a lot of Jive, Spunk, and that “driving beat.”

Prince: So your music is like the James Brown version of Zydeco?

PF: Well, not like that (smiling). The best way to put is a “driving beat.”

Prince: So is there a similarity between Zydeco music and the New Orleans sound? Or is there a complete difference?

PF: It’s completely different.

Prince: Well, please explain.

20130520-010948.jpgPF: Well the difference between New Orleans and Zydeco is that New Orleans is a Jazz sound.

Prince: Really?

PF: Yeah; where I come from its more of a bluesy sound. It’s got a lot of spunk and a lot drive. That’s what the people really want.

Prince: So in regards to music today—gospel, blues, R&B, etc.—do you think it come from Zydeco? Or is it a blend?

PF: It’s a combination of all the music.

Prince: Great. My last question to ask you is, “What do you love about Zydeco?”

PF: It has a lot of fun in it. I don’t play as often as I wish, but its great music to enjoy yourself.

Prince: Well that’s all I have for you. Thanks for chatting with me

PF: Alright; no problem. Thank you.

Here are videos of Preston Frank’s Zydeco Playing

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