On Saturday the Festival at Sandpoint will put another nail in the coffin of the high-brow music festival.
Already known for refusing to bow to musical snobbery, festival organizers step off into the bayou with Queen Ida and her Bon Temps Zydeco Band.
She might bridle at being called the Grandma Moses of Cajun music, but Ida Guillory was well into her adult years before becoming an accordion-slinging, zydeco-singing music star.
“I didn’t get serious about music until the kids were in grade school,” Queen Ida said last week. “I had some extra time on my hands, and I wanted to put some more time and effort into the accordion; the accordion is not an instrument you want to learn to play with other people around.”
After World War II, her folks had moved the family to San Francisco from Lake Charles, La.
When Ida was a child, “My mother brought the accordion home to my brothers. She wanted to keep zydeco music alive. When she went back to Louisiana, the young people weren’t interested and the old guys were getting too old.”
In San Francisco, her brother had a band going and he invited Ida to sit in. Things weren’t going so well, so they decided to make some changes.
“The waltzes and the two-steps weren’t making it,” Ida Guillory said, “so my brother started incorporating other elements … we’ve added blues elements, some country-western, Latin American, some Caribbean - you might hear jazz licks here and there. All those things go into zydeco music today.
“Even the purists have done the same; you have to make changes.”
Now, Queen Ida plays a bluesy, rockin’ zydeco style that ranges widely enough to take in Creedence Clearwater’s “Molina” and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” alongside more traditional pieces like “Comment Ca Va.”
Queen Ida says zydeco is back in a big way because it’s so danceable. “I think it’s popular now because it’s such a lively music; there’s something about the music that puts a smile on your face and makes you move whether you know you’re moving or not.”
Like her mother, Ida wants the music to survive. Her son, Myrick “Freeze” Guillory, has become a mainstay in the Bon Temps Zydeco band as well as leading his own outfit, Nouveau Zydeco.
She also has an interest in Cajun cooking, having written an acclaimed cookbook, “Cookin’ With Queen Ida.” And that’s what they’ll be doing Saturday, cookin’ with the queen.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Queen Ida and Bon Temps Zydeco Band Location and time: Memorial Field, Sandpoint, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $29.50 reserved, $21 general admission, $10.75 for juniors