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Buckwheat Zydeco Biography

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Birth Name: Stanley Dural, Jr.
Born: 1947/11/14
Years Active: 1971—
Genres: Zydeco, R&B

Buckwheat Zydeco (born Stanley Dural, Jr., November 14, 1947), is an American accordionist and zydeco musician. He is one of the few zydeco artists to achieve mainstream success. His music group is formally billed as Buckwheat Zydeco and Ils Son Partis Band, but often they perform as merely Buckwheat Zydeco. Dural was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. He acquired his nickname as a youth, because, with his braided hair, he looked like the character Buckwheat from “Our Gang”/”The Little Rascals” movies. His father, a farmer, was an accomplished, amateur traditional Creole accordion player, but young Buckwheat preferred listening to and playing rhythm and blues.

Dural became proficient at the organ, and by the late 1950s he was backing Joe Tex, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and many others. In 1971, he founded Buckwheat & the Hitchhikers, a funk band that he led for five years before switching to zydeco. They were a local sensation and found success with the single, “It’s Hard To Get,” recorded for a local Louisiana-based label.

He began backing Clifton Chenier, one of the most legendary zydeco performers. Though not a traditional zydeco fan when growing up, Buckwheat accepted an invitation in 1976 to join Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band as organist. He quickly discovered the popularity of zydeco music, and marveled at the effect the music had on the audience.

Buckwheat’s relationship with the legendary Chenier led him to take up the accordion in 1978. After practicing for a year, he felt ready to start his own band under the name Buckwheat Zydeco. They debuted with “One for the Road” in 1979 on the Blues Unlimited label and then recorded for New Orleans’ Black Top label. In 1983, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for “Turning Point” and in 1985 for “Waitin’ For My Ya Ya” after switching to the Rounder Records label. The band then signed to Island Records, becoming the first zydeco act on a major label, and released “On a Night Like This,” a critically acclaimed album that was nominated for a Grammy as well. The band appeared in the movie “The Big Easy” in 1987.

In 1988, Eric Clapton invited the band to open his North American tour as well as his 12-night stand at London’s Royal Albert Hall. As even more doors opened, Buckwheat found himself sharing stages and/or recording with Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, David Hidalgo, Dwight Yoakam, Paul Simon, Ry Cooder, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and many others, including indie music stalwarts Yo La Tengo on the soundtrack to the Bob Dylan bio-pic, “I'm Not There.”

His music has been featured in films including “The Waterboy,” “The Big Easy,” “Fletch Lives” and “Hard Target.” He also wrote and performed the theme music for the PBS television series “Pierre Franey’s Cooking In America.” Buckwheat won an Emmy for his music in the CBS TV movie, “Pistol Pete: The Life And Times Of Pete Maravich.” Buckwheat Zydeco has played many major music festivals, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival numerous times, Newport Folk Festival, Summerfest, San Diego Street Scene, Bumbershoot, Montreaux Jazz Festival, the Voodoo Experience, and countless others.

During the 1990s and early 2000s Buckwheat recorded for his own Tomorrow Recordings label and maintained an extensive touring schedule. Buckwheat Zydeco's album, “Lay Your Burden Down,” was released in May 2009 on the Alligator Records label. It was produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and included guest appearances by guitarists Warren Haynes and Sonny Landreth, Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey and Berlin himself. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Buckwheat’s especially powerful and haunting version of the classic “Cryin' in the Streets” appeared on the benefit album for Hurricane Katrina recovery, “Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast.” Buckwheat's version of Led Zeppelin's “When the Levee Breaks” appeared on 2011's Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection. It originally appeared on the 2009 Buckwheat Zydeco album “Lay Your Burden Down.”