Zydeco musician Corey Arceneaux is a father first and foremost. By Dominick Cross / Photos by Robin May

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

LivingIND1
Corey Arceneaux, surrounded by sons Tyler Arceneaux, 10, Corey
Arceneaux Jr., 12, and 18-year-old Desmond Joseph

Ideally, raising children is better accomplished as a family unit, but going it alone doesn’t make the responsibility an impossible task. It does, however, take commitment, planning and love.

Zydeco band leader Corey Arceneaux knows this. He has been a single father of three boys — Desmond Joseph, 18, Corey Arceneaux Jr., 12, and Tyler Arceneaux, 10 — for half a dozen years.

“Fatherhood means a lot because the kids, they are our future and what you instill in them goes a long way,” Corey Arceneaux says. “It’s how you bring them up, discipline-wise and just being there for the kids.”

Arceneaux says there’s a “joy of seeing the kids grow up. I’ve learned a lot from them. Believe it or not the parent can learn a lot from the kids – just little things that they do.”

After 10 years of marriage, Corey and Jamie Arceneaux parted ways, but they have remained on good terms for the past seven years since the split. “Kids need both parents. That’s No. 1,” Corey Arceneaux says. “But it can be done where a single father can raise kids because I’ve done it for six years.”

Arceneaux emphasizes he isn’t raising the boys totally alone. He gets help from the boys’ mother as well as his own mom. “Their mom’s still there. It’s not like she’s absent. She sees them,” he says. “If there’s something I’m not sure about, I call her. We’ve always worked together as far as disciplining the kids.”

Arceneaux took stepson Desmond under his wing when he was 3, believing that a father figure was necessary in his life.LivingIND2

“That’s a big thing with me,” says Arceneaux. “And with them being boys, I’m thinking I had to really be there. Boys, they need that male guidance. The kids needed the male role model. Boys need it more.”

Arceneaux, who made a name for himself as frontman of Corey Arceneaux and the Zydeco Hot Peppers, is also a sales rep for Schilling Distributing and a weekend deejay at KFXZ FM 105.9. First and foremost, however, he is a father.

“I try to manage my time the best that I can,” he says. “Time management is a lot of why I make it.”

Time management comes in with cooking, too. When Arceneaux cooks dinner, he makes enough for a day or two and stashes the meals in the refrigerator. Adherence to a schedule is key, too, he says, from bedtimes to chores around the house.

Life as a musician changed substantially when Arceneaux became a father. “I don’t play during the week. I only play on weekends,” he says. “I had put a stop to the band for a few years because of the family. While I was married, I hadn’t done too much with the band.”

But with encouragement from his stepson, who now plays bass with the band, and more time management, Arceneaux is back to playing and spending time with the boys at the same time.

“That was his thing. He wanted to play music. And he’s like, ‘Dad. Dad, bring the band back,’” says Arceneaux. Desmond started out on scrubboard with the Hot Peppers. “He ventured out — I taught him some things on keyboard — and then he moved to the bass. And as of right now, he’s one of the best bass players I’ve ever heard.”

Arceneaux’s youngest son, Tyler, got into band, too. So at any one time, there’s usually at least three of them on stage at Randol’s every other Sunday and at a few festivals here and there.

“You’ll see two sets of drums on the stage. The reason why is he plays along with the drummer I have,” says Arceneaux. “He can play the songs by himself, he just can’t do a whole shift. He doesn’t miss a beat.”

LivingIND8Corey plays the trumpet in his school band but prefers a computer to a zydeco band. “He plays scrubboard every once in a while,” says Arceneaux. “But he’s not into it as much as the others are.”

Arceneaux’s interest in zydeco came early on because he grew up in a family centered on music; the self-taught accordion player has been playing more than 25 years. And although his kids are influenced by music of their decade, “I teach them their history,” Arceneaux says. “My kids appreciate the music of our rich Creole ancestry.”

With a good work ethic and a moral foundation in hand, Arceneaux’s approach to child-rearing is one that leaves little room for error — on his part. “I don’t want to just tell them what to do or how to live, I want to show them, lead by example. A father is required to provide for his kids, be there to help them get up when they fall, and teach them how to be responsible adults,” he says. “I don’t think it is remarkable what I have done for my kids; it’s only what I was required to do as a father. And I have always had out-stretched arms for the task. My greatest accomplishment is raising these boys, and I will feel this way until I die.”

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