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The French Connection

Hearing that manic accordion and creaky fiddle, you might think you're in Louisiana. But as Dennis Stroughmatt will tell you, French Creole music is just as much at home in Illinois as it is in the French Quarter.

Coming after the Illini but before the English, the French dominated Illinois. Yet aside from a few town names like Prairie du Rocher – in the French Corridor of southern Illinois – the French didn't leave that big a mark.

With a little help from his band, Creole Stomp, Stroughmatt is bringing this era of Midwestern history to life. His music reminds audiences that even before steamboats plied the Mississippi, these mighty waterways shaped the culture and music of the region by blending Indian, French, Spanish and African influences just as jazz and blues would do years later.

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Check out Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies, another Illinois band that plays that Southern zydeco sound.

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Join Dennis Stroughmatt as he shares how his twin loves of history and music led him to the Creole music world.

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Watch Dennis Stroughmatt perform "Quand J'etais Pauvre" with his band Laisser Les Bon Ton Rouler on Arts Across Illinois: CenterStage in 2002.


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Stroughmatt fiddles for the crowd at a 2004 show in Evanston.

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Dennis plays Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with Dexter Ardoin and the Creole Ramblers.


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