Zydeco musician Ruben Moreno admits that, strictly speaking, he doesn’t live anywhere — or at least not for very long. But he proudly counts the Sun Dog City as one of his somewheres.
“I live in North Park,” he enthuses, “When I can pay my rent on time. I like the vibe there. Open-minded people, nice businesses, and the hipsters don’t bother me yet. Reminds me of parts of Houston today. Minus the southern cooking.”
Over the past two years, Moreno’s music took him from L.A. to Houston to Costa Rica to Europe. “I haven’t had more than six weeks to sit still anywhere.” But he’s bringing his peripatetic Zydeco Revolution band to the Bon Temps Social Club on Saturday, February 9, letting in him check in on a few of his favorite haunts.
“Performing at Centro Cultural de la Raza was an honor,” he recalls. “The people and the energy were magical. I once played a Zydeco dance in Balboa Park. We left this lady in a crazy trance. Totally into the show and music. She didn’t want to let us leave to the next town. Eventually we got away without being harmed!”
Moreno grew up part Latino and part Creole in Houston, Texas beating the summertime heat, “The same way the other Mexicans do. We use our melanin. We work in the sun, play in the sun, and live in the sun. Some of us even worship the sun.”
He logged long hours in his grandmother’s bar, connected by a secret door to the family home. In and around the bar he heard “Zydeco, Cajun, Blues, Tejano, Conjunto, Salsa, Afro-beats, and so much more.”
He heard zydeco first “in the womb,” but got his primary education in the music starting age eight, at Pe-Te’s Cajun BBQ House, and the Texas Crawfish Fest. “The accordion and washboard drew me in at first… I remember every Sunday morning jams in my grandmother’s backyard where I learned the most. Sixteen years of those jams. All these old musicians were famous accordion players, guitar players, percussionists, full bands really. Tons of drinking and jamming. Sharing stories and music and their art.”