Heart of Louisiana: The Dopsie brothers

Heart of Louisiana: The Dopsie brothers

In Louisiana, this family is considered zydeco royalty.  They've entertained crowds around the world with their high-energy music.  FOX 8's Dave McNamara sits down with the Dopsie brothers, who talk about their famous dad and their zydeco sound in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.

He called himself the "crown prince of zydeco". Rockin Dopsie, the zydeco accordion player and band leader from Carencro, La., was one of the early masters who brought zydeco to the world.  Since his death in 1993, Dopsie's sons have become the royal family of zydeco. 

"They got Tiger Dopsie, Dwayne Dopsie - my dad give me the name Dopsie Jr., and Anthony Dopsie," said David Dopsie, the man known as Rockin' Dopsie Jr.

Their real family name is Rubin, but dad became Dopsie when he first started playing music.

"My daddy said he got the name from a guy that danced jitterbug from Chicago," said Rockin' Dopsie Jr. He used to be a jitterbugger and his name was Dopsie, and when he died, my daddy took the name as a young kid and started playing accordion and he call himself Duped , little Dopsie."

Zydeco is a hard-driving mix of South Louisiana rhythm and blues that features the accordion and washboard. First it was called lala music. The name zydeco comes from the farm.

"Zydeco is a snap bean, a green bean, that's what they name the music after, zydeco," said Tiger Dopsie.

Tiger played drums in his dad's band,  Rockin' Jr. played the washboard, and Anthony took over the accordion after his dad's death. 

 "He was a different kind of accordion player," Anthony said. "You got some guys that play single notes, one note at a time, man he could play like three, four notes at one time and it made the most beautiful harmony."

And learning to play by watching dad was difficult, since he held the accordion upside down.

 "He played left-handed so he played upside down," Dwayne said. "So I play right-handed, so it was hard to follow."

 "Me and Dwayne can both sound like him, play like him and everything and all, he was just a different breed, he came from the blues," Anthony said.

Dwayne was in ninth grade when his dad died.  The other three brothers were already playing in their dad's zydeco twisters.  Now, baby brother leads his own band, the Zydeco Hellraisers.

Dad also taught his sons how to be showmen. 

 "When you would see the accordion come out, you would jump, and when they would see my old man, it looked like he didn't even have to play because they were waiting for him," Tiger said.

While Tiger keeps the beat, Anthony wears dress clothes like his dad. Instead of a crown, Jr. wears a cowboy hat and apron, and does his trademark spins and splits.

 "I give it about another five or six years and I'm quitting, and y'all better catch me because in the next five or six years, I'm just going to be shaking my booty," Jr. said.

 "I used to do splits when I was smaller, smaller - like way smaller," Dwayne said. "I'd like to dress nice like them but I sweat way too much."

These brothers are keeping their royal lineage alive, making sure that the crowds still get the real feeling of zydeco.

The Dopsie brothers and their bands are regulars at the French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest.  Rockin' Dopsie Jr. played this past Sunday.  Younger brother Dwayne and the Zydeco Hellraisers close out the day this Saturday on the Fais-do-do stage.

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