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May 6, 2014 1:27 PM by Heather Miller

State senator wants Sunset to be 'rubboard capital of the world'

The town of Sunset could soon be dubbed the "rubboard capital of the world" if a resolution by state Sen. Elbert Guillory clears the Legislature.

According to the resolution by Guillory, R-Opelousas, the Zydeco rubboard, also called a "frottoir," is one of four "true musical instruments" that were invented in the United States.

In 1946, Louisiana native Willie Landry was working at the Texaco Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, when he met Cleveland and Clifton Chenier, two brothers who also were from Louisiana.

The resolution says Cleveland would use bottle openers to strum an old-time, handheld washboard while his brother, the now legendary Clifton, would play "his own unique brand of emerging Zydeco music."

Clifton later proposed a rubboard design to Willie Landry, and Willie crafted the first frottoir to be used as a musical instrument.

Thanks to that chance encounter between Landry and the Chenier brothers, the rubboard has become a staple in Zydeco music.

Landry's son, Tee Don, learned the craft of rubboard-making and continues to carry on his father's legacy at Key of Z Rubboards in Sunset.

"Tee Don Landry's heritage and strong commitment to preserving a unique musical instrument has resulted in the production of high quality stainless steel rubboards," according to the resolution.

The rubboards have been used by both Zydeco greats and famous musicians, including Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top; Buckwheat Zydeco; C. J. Chenier; Chubby Carrier; Zydeco Joe;
Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers; David Peter of Louisiana LeRoux; Gatemouth Brown;
16 Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies, and Boo Zoo Chavis

Guillory's resolution passed in unanimously in the state Senate and is awaiting passage in the House.


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