Zydeco and Cajun music are very closely linked: with the mélange of Blues, folk, French and country influences in common, and the shared feel for good-time dance music, the distinction is largely down to the skin-colour of the player. Nathan Abshire was a Creole speaking Cajun accordionist whose local reputation in the 30s was given wider exposure by his records after WWII, and spread the word even further in the 70s with Festival and TV appearances. With a passionate voice and a vast repertoire of Cajun tunes, Nathan could make a dead man dance with his infectious music.
That changed in the 70s, partly due to the rise of Clifton Chenier, ‘The King of Zydeco’, but also down to a PBS documentary film called ‘Good Times Are Killing Me’, which starred Nathan. He had been getting some college and Festival gigs, but after the TV exposure, Cajun went national. As well as playing more schools and colleges, Nathan recorded two well received albums for the Swallow label, and appeared in more interviews and films. Life was finally becoming a little easier, but Nathan’s long struggle with alcohol was catching up with him, and he passed away in his home town in 1981.