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Bonne Musique Zydeco: Bio

Bonne Musique Zydeco (BMZ), literally "good zydeco music," is a 6-member band specializing in the Creole music of Louisiana and east Texas. BMZ draws upon the style of traditional Cajun and Creole musicians, and the influences of the blues and New Orleans artists of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s to create a blend of music designed for dancing. Bervick J. Deculus, a native of Louisiana, bass player and leader of BMZ, founded the band in 1991. He is carrying on the tradition of his well-known family, which includes internationally recognized, Grammy Award winners Queen Ida and Al Rapone, and the innovative Beau Jocque, a circuit to draw in the area between New Orleans and Houston, who also gained international popularity before his early death in 1999. BMZ has featured several accomplished accordionists and recording artists, namely, Al Rapone, Willis Prudhomme, Jo Jo Reed, Christopher P. Ardoin and Bryant Keith Broussard. Many of these artists are featured on BMZ’s first recorded CD, Gumbo Mix. BMZ still enjoys arranging performances with these Louisiana musicians. BMZ has gained a strong reputation on the West Coast for bringing native Louisianans and people of all ages and cultures out to dance. The band plays at a variety of private parties and social events, community dances, cultural festivals, and local Cajun/Creole restaurants. The members of BMZ are all veteran musicians. They are Kent Menard - accordion. Billy Butler - drums, Lead vocals and rubboard. Norman Weatherly – Keyboard & background vocals. Andre Allen - drums & background vocals, George Sallustio - Guitar and B.J. Deculus - bass and Saxophone. Each member has extensive experience playing a variety of musical styles with renowned artists.

Bervick J. Deculus - Bass Player & Band Leader

B.J. started his music career in the eighth grade while attending James H. Henderson high school in China, Texas, a suburb 14 miles west of Beaumont, Texas. His family moved there from Louisiana in December 1959 during the school’s mid-term. Initially, B.J. wanted to play the trumpet but the school only had one beat up alto saxophone. The band director, Charles E. Styles, who was very busy with the mid-term school year and concert season, gave B.J. the saxophone and a beginner’s book and told him to come see him in September at the beginning of the school year. Over the summer months, B.J. labored intensively with learning how to play the saxophone with the help of his closest friend, Forrest Beverly, who was already an accomplished saxophone player. By the beginning of the school year, B.J.’s hard work paid off when Styles saw that he had accomplished the ability to perform the band’s material on the alto saxophone. Styles allowed him in the band. Four years later, BJ graduated from high school as the first chair in the alto saxophone section and he was a member of the school’s jazz band, whose members consisted of the best of the best.

During his high school years, B.J. performed with local R&B bands in and around the Beaumont area. Playing alto saxophone next to his friend, Forrest, were precious years where he began to learn how to musically express himself through his horn. This is the time when he began hearing bass lines from the R&B tunes of that era, particularly the melodic bass lines of James Jamerson of Motown. The bass lines appealed to him and he always believed that one day he would explore the bass guitar.

Upon graduating from high school, B.J. entered the US Army and auditioned for the military band. He successfully passed the audition and he was placed on a list with other awaiting saxophone players. Although he never had the opportunity to perform in the military band as there were a large group of saxophone players, he continued to study music during his three year military stint. After his service in the military, B.J. enrolled at the Los Angeles City College where he continued his music education by performing in the Jazz band and taking music courses. By this time, he had switched over to the tenor saxophone. When he transferred to California State University, Northridge, B.J. took many classes in music theory and beginner’s classes in piano. As he maneuvered his way through college, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and later receiving a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California (USC), he always carried music as a minor.

The competitive process in the music business in Los Angeles was challenging and treacherous. B.J. had to deal with reality and that was to secure gainful employment and continued his studies in college. He began working fulltime while attending college fulltime. Upon graduating from college and graduate school, he continued working a highly demanding job with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and raising a family. Though the music took a backseat during these years, he never forgot about it. He laid down his saxophone and picked up the bass guitar that he occasionally played on his own. When his cousin, Queen Ida and her brother, Al Rapone, would perform in Los Angeles during the mid-eighties, B.J. was always invited to play the bass on a couple of songs that was taught to him by Al on the day of the performance.  

In the early nineties, while well situated in his chosen law enforcement career, he made the big move to get music back into his life. He bought a bass guitar and began taking formal bass lessons to get him up to speed. In 1991, he formed the Bonne Musique Zydeco band with him as the bass player. Since then, he led the band through trials and tribulations but has never quit or given-up. Today, the band has four professionally recorded CDs. BMZ’s core members have been with the band for ten years, a testament to B.J’s leadership and love for the music.

Billy Butler - Lead Vocalist & Rubboard Player