Q. Where were you born and when? Tell us a little about where you live now.
A. I was born in Lafayette, LA on March 3rd, 1979, and lived there until I was 18 years old. The youngest of eight children, I am the son of the late Alton Joseph Rubin Senior and Elvina Rubin. My brothers and sisters include Audrey, Joyce, Alice, Louella, Alton Rubin Jnr., David and Anthony. (Dwayne adopted the stage name of Dwayne Dopsie after his fathers stage name Rockin' Dopsie.)
Lafayette is a city of approximately 350,000 people, rich in Creole and Cajun culture. I spent my childhood there and left when I was 18 to move to Metairie. On September 5, 1997, at the invitation of Kerry Boutie, I started performing five nights a week at Zydeco Joe's, under the name of Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Sont Pas Sale, which included drummer Michael Alexander.
Metairie is the first suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana, located on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain between two of Louisiana's largest cities, New Orleans and Kenner. Like New Orleans, Metairie is located below sea level and has large annual Mardi Gras celebrations. The world's longest bridge, the twin span, 24-mile long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway connects Metairie to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where many of Metairie and New Orleans' former residents have moved. Metairie forms a part of the Greater New Orleans metropolitan area and is technically an unincorporated part of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Unlike the other 49 states, Louisiana, due to its French heritage, has parishes rather than counties. With a population of about 160,000 the word Metairie comes from the French word which means farm.
Q. Tell us a little
about the other musicians in your family.
Q. You grew up in a
family where your father, the late Rockin' Dopsie was as you mentioned,
a Zydeco legend. What is your earliest memory of the accordion?
Waking my parents, my Dad came running out while exclaiming in a deep voice, "Boy, what the hell are you doing?" After this, my father started me on the washboard when I was 6, as it was lighter and easier to manage than the accordion. When I was seven, my father gave me a smaller accordion that he rarely played. I began learning by listening to him play and watching his fingers.
Q. Did you see/hear your father perform (or practice) a lot when you were very young?
A. I heard him more in concert than I ever heard him at home. When he was home, he was either eating or sleeping. Usually the only time he would bring out his accordion was to clean it. You can see from this picture of Rockin' Dopsie, that he played the accordion differently from everyone else. He always wore it, what would be upside down, to us, therefore playing the keyboard with his left hand, and pulling the bellows with his right.
Q. Why did you
choose the accordion rather than another instrument?
Q. Was your first accordion
the same type of instrument that you play now?
Q. You were playing
the accordion alongside your father at the age of 7. Can you remember your
very first performance?
Q. Did your father
give you any money for this performance?
Q. Do you
have any humorous memories of your early performances?
Q. Did you
have any musical hero's as a child?
Q. You mentioned that
the Zydeco style is more "blues". Can you tell me a little more
Around the turn of the century while the farmers were out working in the fields, (picking the beans) they would hum melodies to help pass the time. The workers would come in from the fields, and while cooking, would wonder about the salt content of the beans. It is said that the favorite melody was called "Les Haricots Sont Pas Sales" which translates as "The snap beans are not salty." This 'blues' melody, was the beginning of the Zydeco music.
This is how I came up with the name of my first band which I mentioned earlier: "The Zydeco Sont Pas Sales".
while only 9 years of age, you performed on the Dolly Parton Show. How did
this performance come about? What did you do on the show?
performed during a Super Bowl half-time show when only 10 years of age.
How did this performance come about?
you doing a lot of performing at that time?
us a little about where you went to school and your studies.
My father died while I was in 9th grade, and I continued on until the 12th grade when I finally left school without graduating. Looking back, I still don't really regret this, as graduation and even a college degree (which is extremely expensive) doesn't guarantee you a job.
I am currently making a very good, full time living out of music, and feel happy about that.
all this performing effect your work while attending school?
and why, did you decide to make music your career?
I felt like I had been blessed with a musical skill given from God, through my father. I knew if I didn't take advantage of it, it would be taken away. I really believe the Lord had given me this talent, so I wanted to use it.
much of an influence was your father on your choice of a career with the
Q. Can you
fill in what has been happening with your professional career over the last
was "Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers" started? How did the name
come about? How did you select the players and types of instruments?
Our band consists of the traditional Zydeco band format of guitar, bass, drums and washboard, led by accordion. The guitar player is Jamil Williams, drummer Keith Sonnier who grew up next door to me. We did school shows together, and I always promised that when I had my own band, I would invite him to join it, which he did. My bass player Michael Alexander, comes from my band I started when I first moved to New Orleans. While playing one night after we first started, our washboard player, known only as "Crab", walked in and asked if he could play with us. We knew immediately after the first piece, that he was the one, and is now full time with the band.
Q. Is there
any place where people can hear you performing regularly?
did you learn about the "Search for the Hottest" competition sponsored by
the American Accordionists' Association, the Lawrence Welk Resorts and Accordions
did you go about making a home video to send in?
was your reaction (and the bands) to being selected for the Hottest Finals?
Q. At the
competition, were you surprised to be met at the airport by the media?
Q. How did
it feel being part of a competition? Was this a first time in competition?
The only other competition I had entered was the "Battle of the Bands" which I won last year at the AAA convention in New Orleans.
Q. Did you feel good after your performance at the competition?
If I did it over again though, I would just be me, and do what I had really wanted to do, and that was "really just go nuts!!!"
Q. Do you
think the concept of the "Search for the Hottest" event should be repeated,
maybe in a few years?
the event, you have been featured on a number of TV shows. Was it fun being
on shows that few accordionists (if any) had been featured on before?
So far, I haven't done any other TV appearances (apart from Sunday Morning, which was part of a documentary filmed about the Search for the Hottest Accordionist.) However, they are working on appearances with the Late Show, with David Letterman, Regis and Kathy Lee, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno plus a few others. I really hope they work out.
you told us a little about your accordion. Can you tell us about the tuning
and any other special features?
I only use one G-C-F accordion (as opposed to having two accordions) and this is enough to do an entire show. I have a new accordion on order, a black one with Rhinestones, with the name "MERCY" down the front, because when they hear me play, they are going to be saying exactly that: "MERCY"!
readers outside the USA who have not heard you perform on TV, do you sing
as well as perform? Do you dance? How would you best describe what you do?
Q. Describe how you try to integrate the sound of your accordion into
the group and your music?
Q. How much
of your music is your own composition/s? How much is your own arrangements?
I play strictly Zydeco music of which 95% is my own music and about 5 percent traditional Zydeco. (Within the Zydeco style theme I can also play blues, boogie, 2 step and waltzes.)
Q. Do you
have any recordings for sale. If so. where can the be purchased.
your most "interesting" performance situation?
many performances do you estimate to have made during your career?
Q. Do you
make the arrangements for the band, are they written arrangements or worked
out by ear? How do you go about learning a piece?
We don't want to give ourselves limitations, or ever appear on stage as having been rehearsed. The crowd can and must feel the spontinatey. We don't want to rehearse something, then when it doesn't happen that way on stage, be disappointed. For us it must come naturally. Everything is done on stage, and whatever happens, happens
advice do you have for aspiring accordionists wanting to form bands and
be professional performers?
Today there are lots of expectations on kids, the pressure that if you don't make it then and there, its over. There is time to learn about yourself, time to focus on what you want to accomplish, and want you want to do.
Q. Do you have any
musical heroes today?
Q. What non accordion
music do you most like to listen to?
other interests and hobbies besides music do you have?
Q. What do you regard
as your greatest achievement? What musical achievement are you most proud
Q. What are your more immediate career objectives and where do you see
your career progressing in the future?
I would love to have an "Accordion Theater," which I could have accordionists coming from around the world to play in. A good place would be in New Orleans or maybe even Branson.
I feel blessed that I can make my living with the accordion, and will do so for as long as I can. I want to know that I have made a difference, and there is never going to be anyone else like me.