John and Alan Lomax traveled to the bayous and prairies of South Louisiana 80 years ago to make field recordings of the indigenous music. They left with a trove of pre-Cajun and -zydeco gems recorded from West Feliciana and East Baton Rouge parishes in the east to Rapides and Jeff Davis in the west.

Acadiana scholar and musician Joshua Clegg Caffery studied the Lomaxes’ recordings from that epic trip at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center as part of an Alan Lomax Fellowship in 2013, culminating in his 2014 book Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana.

Now those recordings are available for listening online. The wide-ranging and (by today’s standards) crude recordings run the gamut, from a capella solo renditions of folk songs to proto-Cajun and -Creole tunes by bands. You can hear in these old songs strains of what would become modern Cajun and Creole music.

Click here to check them out.

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