Daniel Poullard was Born January 10, 1938 in Ritchie,
near Eunice, Louisiana. His father, John Poullard, and
his mother, Dorsina Guillory Poullard, brought him into
a musical family.
All the men in John Poullard's family
played music: John's father was a fiddler, and John's
brothers and cousins played Creole and some Cajun accordian.
occasionally sat in with Amede Cajun and Creole music
to this day. John also played at dance halls and later
He and Suzy Thompson formed the California
Cajun Orchestra in approximately 1983. In 1990, the
group collaborated with "D.L. Menard on a cut for
the soundtrack of the documentary film, J'Ete Au Bal,
for which they used the name "D.L. Menard with
the the California Cajuns."
Coast pioneer Joe Simien is an esteemed Louisiana French
accordionist who lives in Los Angeles. Joe was born on
October 3, 1923, in Le Beau, Louisiana. Joe's father kept
two accordians on the kitchen floor and everyone in the
family was permitted and inclined to pick one up and play
tells how he came to play the accordian again after
he had moved to California. John Simien was friends
with rub board player Charlie St. Mary.
Ambrose Sam is One of the first men to have played zydeco
music in Los Angeles. He continues to live and perform
there today. Born on Carencro Bayou and raised in Grand
Coteau, Louisiana, Ambrose Sam grew up with a famil music
tradition which he would eventually carry West.
created his own style of zydeco by mixing his father's
music with other styles. Moise Sam was very pleased
that Ambrose was playing the accordian. Rather than
reproach him for departing form the old traditional
style, Moise encouraged Ambrose to develop his own style.
Today Ambrose can play the double-raw, triple-raw, and
piano accordian, and with these he can play "any
kind of music-old-time zydeco, rock and roll, blues,
the age of twenty Ambrose married Gladys Fontenot, and
he later moved with her to Los Angeles in 1953. He had
heard he could find a better job in California, and
he had also heard that California was short on accordian
players. He started out playing Louisiana French music
with the Perkins Brothers, in garages, for private parties,
at small clubs, and eventually at church dances.
1974 Ambrose sold his home in Los Angeles and moved
back to Louisiana with his second wife, Enola Guillory,
He built a new house in Opelousas, and continued playing
music in the Opelousas area. Enola Guillory passed away,
and Ambrose eventually returned to live in the Los Angeles
area. Today Ambrose Sam has nine children in all.
Vocalist and rub board player Charlie St. Mary was born
near Lake Charles, Louisiana. His parents, Arsene and
Sady St. Mary, raised their fourteen children on Li'l
Indian Bayou. According to Charlie, Arsene St. Mary was
a fiddler who "never did play the real stomp down
zydeco." Rather he played "off the wall music"
like "Saute Crapaud (Jump Frog)".
explains how early rub board players in Louisiana played
on boards actually intended for laundry, with spoons,
can openers, and other items for scrapers. The boards
stood on two legs, and rub board players placed one
leg on each side of his or her own.
sound too good, it was kinda rough." Then musicians
began making boards out of tin, which could be worn
around the neck: "We cut it out and put a piece
of string in it. It had a little steel in it so it would
sound a little better.
"Today Charlie gets his rub
boards from his nephew in Reno, Louis St. Mary, who
makes boards from steel. Charlie notes that while modern
steel boards produce the best sound, many boards commercially
available today have a high tin content and do not produce
a sound as pleasing as that of a steel board. Charlie's
favorite scrapers are bottle openers.
took the train to California in 1964 and settled in
the San Francisco Bay Area. He worked for Seco Steel
and played rub board on weekends with John Simien and
the Opelousas Playboys.
He played with Elridge Thibodeaux
of Lake Charles whenever Elridge made trips to California.
He also took trips to Los Angeles to play with Joe Simien.
Charlie began playing the rub board with Danny Poullard
and the California Cajun Orchestra in approximately
In addition to his playing the frottoir, Charlie
has come to be known for his vocals and his "hollers".
When a recent medical procedure caused his voice to
grow hoarse, Charlie explained that he couldn't wait
for his voice to recover so that he could go back to
hollering. Today Charlie and his wife Theresa make their
home in Sacramento.
A History of Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Music in California
By: Freida Marie Fusilier
Jolene M. Adams