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New artwork underscores rich music legacy
The rubboard should be called the happy instrument. This zydeco percussion instrument, worn as a metal vest hanging over the shoulders, draws immediate attention.
The musician playing looks to be having the time of his life. Good players make the rhythm look easier than it is.
Fans, eager to join the fun, have bought more than 3,700 “Key of Z” rubboards from “Tee Don” Landry in Sunset. His customers include Rihanna, ZZ Top, Kid Rock and other stars.
Rubboards are in Landry’s blood. In 1946, his father Willie Landry, a master metal worker, made the first rubboard from a drawing in the sand by zydeco pioneers Clifton and Cleveland Chenier.
Landry’s creation is now considered one of the few instruments invented in the United States. One is housed in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution.
The rubboard gets another honor at 10 a.m. May 22 when a giant sculpture is unveiled in Sunset, where Landry lives and crafts his handmade instruments. Designed by welder Pat Miller, this 4-foot by 6-foot creation will be the town’s first public art piece. It will rest on the northwest corner of Duffy and Napoleon avenues, near I-49.
Following the unveiling, the Wayne Blue Burns Band, which includes Landry, will perform at a reception at the Sunset Community Center, 108 Leo Richard Lane.
The giant rubboard becomes a permanent marker in Sunset’s reign as the “Rubboard Capital of the World.” The state legislature made the official proclamation in 2014.
Irish musician Tony Davoren was instrumental in the campaign. A touring musician with “Riverdance,” Davoren fell in love with the arts and crafts scene in Sunset.
Davoren was searching for an authentic rubboard to send to a friend back in Ireland when he discovered the Key of Z’s history. He and Dori Janise, a guiding force behind the May 22 unveiling, successfully worked with local legislators for the proclamation.
A few miles north of Sunset on I-49, Opelousas has become home of a new statue honoring zydeco and Cajun music godfather Amede Ardoin. A steady stream of locals and visitors are stopping to take pictures at the St. Landry Parish Visitors Center.
The giant rubboard is poised to become another attraction and tribute to the parish’s rich music legacy.
Herman Fuselier is music and entertainment writer for the Times of Acadiana and Daily Advertiser. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
Giant Zydeco Rubboard Unveiling
10 a.m., May 22
Duffy and Napoleon Ave., Sunset