What to See at Folklife #197: A Little Louisiana in the Great Northwest

(Thanks to guest blogger MaryLee Lykes for this post! You can see the full schedule for the 2013 Northwest Folklife Festival online at www.nwfolklife.org/festival beginning May 1.) 

Swamp Soul

Cajun & Zydeco of the Pacific Northwesst

Seattle is home to strong and vibrant Cajun and Zydeco communities that regularly gather to dance, play music and celebrate Louisiana culture.

Cajun and Zydeco music and dance originated in Southwest Louisiana and are popular there still, in addition to having an enthusiastic following throughout the U.S.

Cajun was introduced to the Seattle area by Dewey Balfa while performing at Port Townsend’s Fiddle Tunes. Local musicians Dave Lang, Karen England and Mike Bristow heard Dewey and his band and fell in love with Cajun music, soon after forming our first area Cajun band, “How’s Bayou,”  in 1978. Today there are some eight Cajun bands playing throughout the Seattle Area.

Zydeco hit the Northwest scene around 1985 when Laura Taylor and Richard Smallwood and Living Traditions began teaching Zydeco dance and bringing Louisiana bands to Seattle. Seattle’s first local Zydeco band was “Captain Leroy & the Culture Pirates” (later “Captain Leroy & the Zydeco Locals”).

Opportunities abound in Seattle for participating in Cajun and Zydeco dance classes, dances, music jams. Many celebratory gatherings feature Louisiana music, dancing, and food.

Our community is excited to have 3 shows at Folklife 2013:
Friday Roadhouse 8:00-10:00pm with Whozyamama & Swamp Soul; Sunday Roadhouse 3:00-5:00pm with Troupeau Acadien & Folichon; Monday Armory 11:00am-1:00pm with New Iberians & Richard Allen and the Louisiana Experience. Mini Dance Lesson between sets in Zydeco & Cajun taught by MaryLee Lykes.

There will be a Zydeco dance workshop in Rainier Room on Saturday from 12:00-12:50pm taught by MaryLee Lykes.

This year we are pleased to also have a Cajun Jam Session on the Boeing Green on Saturday, May 25, 4:00pm to 5:00pm.


Marylee Lykes is the owner/director of Lykes To Dance.

MaryLee began teaching dance in Seattle 17 years ago and hasn’t stopped since! Her dancing expertise includes: Swing, Waltz, Ballroom Foxtrot, One Step, Blues, Zydeco, Cajun, and Western Swing and Two Step.

MaryLee co-founded the Swing and Lindy Hop dance instruction organization Swing Girls with Hallie Kupperman in 1992, taught for Living Traditions, and founded her own dance instruction business, Lykes to Dance, in 1998. She teaches extensively on a local, national, and international level. She offers both group and individual instruction for those with or without dance partners.