COOS BAY — Most local kids have heard rock music. Also hip-hop. And country, of course.
Zydeco? Not so likely.
Next week, students from throughout Coos County will sample this Louisiana-born confection of Cajun, French Creole, blues and Afro-Caribbean influences, courtesy of the South Coast Clambake Music Festival. It promises to be tasty.
“I think what the kids will really think is cool is the washboard,” said Janet Saint, a retired teacher and Clambake board member. “They don’t even know what a washboard is.”
For three decades, Clambake has celebrated jazz, swing and other genres of “America’s original music.” A key element is Clambake’s “Music in the Schools” program, which is backed this year by a $3,000 grant from the Coquille Tribal Community Fund.
“This is an important music program that also brings out a little bit of history to our kids and our community,” said Jackie Chambers, a Coquille Tribal member who coordinates the tribal fund. She recalled attending a Music in the Schools event last year:
“Seeing kids of every age get up out of their seats and dance to music they may have never even heard was a sight to see,” she said. “The program was very interactive, exciting, and fun all around.”
Saint said experiencing a live show not only inspires appreciation for music, it also shows that playing in a band is “cool,” and it teaches the value of mastering a craft.
Visiting bands often invite the kids to sing along or dance. Teachers might even be pulled onto the dance floor.
“Oh my gosh, the kids love it,” Saint said. “Most of the kids will say it’s their favorite assembly of the year.”
This year, the kids will hear Gator Nation, a California band whose music encompasses zydeco, Cajun, and New Orleans rhythm and blues.
“A lot of these kids where we live – they’ve never gotten to see that, and maybe they never will,” Saint said.
Another attraction will be the presence of Marshfield High School’s Swing Club. The teen dancers (coached by Saint) will show the younger kids an extra reason to relish music.
Clambake is one of five artistic and cultural organizations receiving grants from the Coquille Tribal Community Fund this year. The five grants account for $16,200 of the more than $290,000 being awarded for 2018.
All 57 grants for 2018 will be awarded at a luncheon on Friday.