Acadian Driftwood

Acadian Driftwood: The Roots of Acadian and Cajun Music

A nearly definitive guide to Acadian and Cajun music!


Acadian Driftwood: The Roots of Acadian and Cajun Music (348 pages plus 32 pages of images) establishes a link between the music of the Cajuns and that of their ‘cousins’ in Acadie, which is not to say that one can equate one with the other. In terms of their respective musical styles Acadians and Cajuns can only be perceived as very distant cousins. Nonetheless, because of historical affinities the time seems overdue for some kind of preliminary attempt at throwing both genres into the same arena even if the result is more likely to be a juxtaposition of musical cultures rather than a homecoming reunion of comrades who attended the same music school.


Acadian Driftwood is a primer in two genres, one that has a very distinct sound and a large fan base and the other inherently disparate in style and virtually unknown around the world. The book includes up-to-date profiles of dozens of artists, with listings of recommended recordings and a comprehensive discography. Although a few comparative cultural essays are included, an attempt has been made to respect the delineation that exists between Acadie in Canada and Acadiana in the United States. 

The Acadian section of the book contains features on traditional Acadian music and the “down home” Acadian style of fiddling, as well as the Acadian brand of country music. An account of the growth of the Acadian recording industry that has taken place in recent decades is also included. Acadian music is still on the rise thanks to this new infrastructure.

The Cajun chapters trace the history of the music from the time of the Grand Dérangement, or Great Expulsion, in 1755 to today, following the trail of the founders and folklorists, tracing the influence of blues, rock, and country on Cajun music, and the related genres known as Creole, zydeco, and swamp pop.

Along the way we pose a few provocative, maybe even taboo, questions, such as, “With a few hundred years of hindsight does the Great Upheaval still seem to be an unforgivable act or were there possible outcomes that mitigate the tragedy?” We also look at the role of women in Cajun music and speculate on the future of Acadian-Cajun relations.

Interspersed throughout the book are a few dozen special features. Some tell the story behind the most famous songs, such as "Jambalaya", "Évangéline", and “Jolie Blonde". Others profile the most influential performers. Still others provide reviews of rare recordings, domestic and foreign. The book is also adorned with reproductions of album covers and sleeves, some very difficult to find elsewhere. The book should help the readers create their own library of Acadian and Cajun music.