Mixing musical flavors The Alligator Zydeco Band spreads Southern harmony across the country.

Posted: May 25, 2003

GLENOLDEN — Greg Troiano sums up zydeco music in two words: "musical gumbo."

Played with an accordion, bass and lead guitars, a trap set, and a rubboard, zydeco is the breezy, catchy Creole-style music of Louisiana. But Troiano, known to his fans as the Snakeman, leader of the Alligator Zydeco Band, has never been to the Big Easy, for one simple reason.

"With music pouring out of every doorway in New Orleans, I'm afraid I'd never leave," Troiano said with a grin.

A resident of Glenolden, Troiano and fellow band members travel to eight states, Florida to Colorado, bringing Southern-style sounds to audiences at about 120 concerts a year.

Today from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the band will celebrate its fifth year performing at Jam on the River on the US Airways Stage, Penn's Landing, off Christopher Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia.

Zydeco is produced by a mix of African, Haitian, Caribbean, and other cultural sounds of Louisiana. It is influenced by Cajun music, another style performed by the band, Troiano said.

For Cajun, the traditional pre-1800s instruments are two fiddles, spoons and a triangle; post-1800s includes the accordion. Cajun music comes from the Acadians, French settlers originally from Nova Scotia who relocated to Louisiana in the 1700s and incorporated folk dances and other European styles into their music, he said.

Both zydeco and Cajun musical styles have French-language influences. The Alligator Zydeco Band performs many songs completely or partially in French, Troiano said.

Formed in 1995, the Alligator Zydeco Band includes Troiano, his daughter Laura Troiano of Glenolden, Mark Armstrong of Paoli, Buddy Plaugher of Holmes, and Mike Whren of Philadelphia. The band has produced two compact discs, White Hot B.Y.U.Z. (Basic Yankee Urban Zydeco) Music and Allons Danser.

Greg Troiano is a self-taught musician who plays the harmonica, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, tenor banjo, charango (a South American stringed instrument), and various rhythm instruments. He played bluegrass, folk, swing, and rock/fusion music with several bands before discovering zydeco at a performance by Queen Ida during a rainy weekend at the 1985 Philadelphia Folk Festival.

"Zydeco was the most powerful music I'd ever heard," Troiano said. "I saw 3,000 people dancing in a foot deep of mud. I wanted more."

About 10 years ago, Laura Troiano began performing with her father, playing a frattoir, also known as a rubboard. The instrument sits on the shoulders, with a washboard-type plate on the chest, and is played with spoons. Laura Troiano said she was "pretty certain" that she was the only student at Interboro High School who played a rubboard.

Her father taught her the basic way of playing, and she formed her own style.

"My friends don't know it exists," said Laura Troiano, nicknamed the Zydeco Girl by her father.

Plaugher's musical history includes his days as a member of the Ridley High School Marching Band and the Crossman Drum and Bugle Corps. Armstrong began playing music at age 10 and was a bluesman until he joined the band two years ago. Whren, a musician for 30 years, is a second-generation guitarist.

"I love zydeco because it is very danceable," Whren said.

That was evident during the band's recent performance at Bottoms Up in Clifton Heights. There, couples in their 20s to 50s danced a modern zydeco dance, holding each other closer than in a traditional waltz and moving their feet in small, tight steps.

Greg Troiano played the accordion with such gusto that he frequently had to wipe sweat from his brow. Laura Troiano's hands flew up and down the rubboard in a blur while she stayed one-on-one with Plaugher's even-handed playing on the trap set for the song "Petite Fille."

Armstrong's sharply toned, improvising solo held the attention of listeners as other patrons stepped in time to the clear, deep sounds from Whren's electrifying bass.

Marty, 56, and Kathy Frick, 55, both of Lansdowne, spent time on the dance floor before taking a break to have a drink.

"We are Alligator Zydeco groupies," Marty Frick said. "We've been listening to them for five years."

Said his wife: "They are great, and it's fun music. What could be better?"

Send Arts news to suburban staff writer Gloria A. Hoffner, The Inquirer, 800 River Rd., Conshohocken, Pa. 19428; e-mail

it to PAarts@phillynews.com; or fax it to 610-313-8243. Contact Gloria

A. Hoffner at 610-313-8006 or gloriah@phillynews.com.

Special Events

West Chester Railroad Market St Station, West Chester; 610-430-2233. www.westchesterrr.net. Memorial Day Special & Family Fun Day. today. Summer Sunday Picnic Specials. Suns 6/1-8/31. Flea markets with antiques & collectibles. Last Sun of month. Call for times, prices.

Vassar Show House & Gardens Showcases interior & exterior designers' work on historic home; benefits area scholarships for Vassar College. Ivy Cottage, 225 Lincoln Hwy, Exton; 610-527-9717. $20. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mons-Fris; 6-8:30 p.m. Tues-Fris; noon-4 p.m. Sats & Suns. Closes 5/26.

Antique Show American & English furniture, glass metalware, ceramics, folk art, quilts, porcelain, collectibles. Brandywine River Museum, Rte 1, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. $7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today - 5/26.

Brandywine River Blues Festival Live music, wine tastings, picknicking, souvenir wine glass. Chaddsford Winery, Rte 1, Chadds Ford; 610-388-6221. www.chaddsford.com. $16. Noon-6 p.m. today & 5/26.

Craft Shows, Sales & Bazaars

Rare & Used Book Sale Memorial Library of Radnor Twp, 114 W Wayne Ave, Wayne; 610-687-1124. www.radnorlibrary.org. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 5/31 & 1-4 p.m. 6/1.

Sidewalk Sale Young entrepreneurs, merchants, crafters, vendors selling their wares. Held throughout downtown Swarthmore. 610-543-4599. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 5/31.

Trips

Caribbean Cruise Stops in San Juan, St John, St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola; Catholic Daughters of Court of St George sponsor. 610-534-9526. $1,148 & up. 10/4-12.

Greenville Salon Boston, Salem, Sommerville, Mass. Includes bus transportation, breakfast & dinner daily, hotel, tours. Leave from Springfield Rd & Oak Ave, Clifton Heights; 610-259-2515. $449. 6/22-25.

Lower Merion Senior Center 36 Ardmore Ave, Ardmore; 610-649-5290. Canada: to Montreal, Quebec & Lake George. $649. 5/30-6/4.

Main Line Art Center Old Buck Rd & Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-525-0272. www.mainlineart.org.

Nativity Seniors Nativity BVM Church, Franklin & Monroe Sts, Media; 610-627-1037. Ireland. Approx $1,700. 10/17-25.

New Jersey Pine Barrens Tour focusing on endangered plant species & ecosystems; Penn State Master Gardeners sponsors. Bus departs from Smedley Park (Environmental Center) 20 Paper Mill Rd, Springfield; 610-690-2655. $32. 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. 6/14.

Schoolhouse Senior Center 600 Swarthmore Ave, Folsom; 610-237-8100 ext 21. Vanity Fair Outlets in Reading. $6. 6/12. Trump Plaza Casino. $15. 6/19.

St Bernadette Social Club Bond & Turner Aves, Drexel Hill; 610-789-8711 or 610-789-5813. Casino trips. 6/9, 7/14, 9/15, 10/13, 11/10 & 12/9. Baltimore Harbor. 6/25. Erhardt's in Poconos. 8/6. To Ocean City for Blessing of Waters. 8/15. Canada trip. 8/23-28. Retreat in Poconos. 10/3-5. "Guido's Wedding" show in Paterson, NJ. 10/17. Call for cost, time, other details.

St James High School Alumni Association 610-566-1080. Discover Ireland trip to Adare, Kilarney, Dingle Peninsula, Blarney, Dublin, Knock, Galway, Conemara. $1,699 includes coach to JFK, airfare, hotels, breakfast & dinner daily, sightseeing tours. 7/11-19. Bermuda Cruise from Philadelphia; stops at St Georges, Hamilton, Kings Wharf. $965 & up includes travel insurance, port charges, taxes & fees. 10/19-26.

St Mary Magdalen Senior Explorers Sponsors trips to various destinations. 610-359-0931. New Orleans, Memphis & Atlanta, 9-day tour. $1,090 includes meals, lodging. Starts 5/28. New England & Canada, 10-day cruise. $1,659 & up. Starts 9/23.

The Travel Club Lawrence Park Shopping Center, Lawrence Park; 610-356-0344. Niagara Falls. $259. 9/28-30.

Art Exhibits

Barnes Foundation 300 N Latches Ln (2 blocks N of 54th St & City Ave), Merion; 610-667-0290. www.barnesfoundation.org. Work by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rousseau, Matisse, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, other impressionists & post-impressionists, African art & PA Dutch functional pieces. $5. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fris-Suns. 400 people allowed entry per day. Reservations required: 610-667-0290 option 5.

Brandywine River Museum Rtes 1 & 100, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. NC Wyeth, paintings & drawings of summers in Maine. Opens Sat. Closes 9/1. Antique smoking pipes show. Opens Sat. Closes 7/27. Antique show. Preview ($100) 6-9 p.m. 5/23. $7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5/24-26. NC Wyeth house & studio tours. $3 additional; ages 6 & over only. Timed intervals Weds-Suns through 11/23. James Wyeth's Night Vision, commemorates 20th anniv, Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund; print sales benefit Project RENEW mine action program in Vietnam. $6; $3 students, seniors; free ages under 6. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

Cheltenham Center for the Arts 439 Ashbourne Rd, Cheltenham; 215-379-4660. Neil Moul retrospective, sculptures, paintings, prints. Closes 5/31.

*NEW* Community Arts Center 414 Plush Mill Rd, Wallingford; 610-566-1713.

Darlington Arts Center 977 Shavertown Rd, Boothwyn; 610-358-3632. Josephine Tsai, Chinese brush painting. Opening reception, 3-5 p.m. Sun. Closes 5/31.

Franklin Mint Rte 1, half mile S of Rte 452, Lima; 610-459-6168.

Gallery at Cedar Hollow 2447 Yellow Springs Rd, Malvern; 610-640-2787. Craft show: glass, metals, jewelry, apparel, fine & decorative arts. Closes 5/26. Jewish Artist Guild show, mixed media. Closes 5/26.

Haverford School 450 Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-642-3020. Outdoor group show, mixed media. Closes 5/30.

Main Line Art Center Old Buck Rd & Lancaster Ave, Haverford; 610-525-0272. Art exhibit & sale. Closes 6/11.

Merritt Young Suburban Square, 103 Coulter Ave, Ardmore; 610-645-9945. Changing shows each weekend. Call for details.

*NEW* James A Michener Art Museum 138 S Pine St, Doylestown; 215-340-9800. www.michenerartmuseum.org. Alan Goldstein: 15 abstract expressionist paintings based on nature. Opens Sat. Closes 8/23. Japanese ukiyo-e prints (1600s-1867) from Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. Closes 8/31. 30 international contemporary quilts from Museum of Arts & Design, NYC. $4 additional. Closes 7/6. James Lloyd, 5 outdoor sculptures. Closes 7/20. $6; $5.50 seniors; $3 students; free under age 6. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues-Fris (to 9 p.m. Weds), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats, noon-5 p.m. Suns. Joint admission, Mercer Museum: $10, adults only.

Salon des Amis 2321 Yellow Springs Rd, Malvern; 610-647-6010. Stephen Futej, ceramic sculptures. Closes 6/5.

Smith & Childs Custom Framing 52 E Lancaster Ave, Ardmore; 610-896-8330.

*NEW* Spread Eagle Village Village Hall, Rte 30 & Eagle Rd, Wayne; 215-348-1794.

Swarthmore Borough Hall 121 Park Ave, Swarthmore; 610-328-0510. Swarthmore artists show, multi-media. Closes 7/5.

Temple Sholom 55 N Church Ln, Broomall; 610-356-5165.

Tyme 17 W Eagle Rd, Havertown; 610-853-1215. www.tymegallery.com. Adam & Sandi Lovitz, paintings. Closes 6/10. Joseph Finisdore, sculptures. Permanent.

Villanova University Connelly Center, Rte 30 & Ithan Ave, Villanova; 610-519-4612. Robert F McGovern retrospective, mixed media. Closes 6/23.

Performing Arts

Professional & Community Theater

Royal Family Comedy. Hedgerow Theater, 64 Rose Valley Rd, Rose Valley; 610-565-4211. www.hedgerowtheatre.org. $19 & $22; $17 & $20 seniors; $10 students. Thus, Sats-Suns. Closes 6/1.

High School Productions

*NEW* You Haven't Changed A Bit Musical comedy. Radnor High School, 130 King of Prussia Rd, Radnor; 610-293-0855 ext 3525. $10; $8 advance. Daily. Opens 5/30. Closes 6/1.

Auditions & Rehearsals

Barnstormers Theater Ward & Tome Sts, Ridley Park; 610-769-3905. www.ridleypark.net/Barnstormers. Play Sumissions: submit plays for direction to The Barnstormers, PO Box 12, Ridley Park, PA. Attn: Play Selection. Or email brouhaha64@hotmail.com.

Chester County Youth Orchestra Lionville Middle School, 550 W Uwchlan Ave, Exton; 610-524-0943. www.ccyo.org.

Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra 28 N Lansdowne Ave, Suite 1, Lansdowne; 610-284-3719. www.lansdowneso.org. Ongoing auditions. Call for appt.

The Delaware County Concert Band Christ Presbyterian Church, State Rd & Fosse Ave, Drexel Hill; 610-543-3646. New members needed: all ages. 8 p.m. Tues.

For Kids & Teens

Baby-Sitting 2-day programs for baby-sitters ages 11 & up on childcare, handling emergencies, first aid. Delaware County Memorial Hospital, 501 N Lansdowne Ave, Drexel Hill; 610-284-8158. Various times, days. Call for schedule, fees.

Practice SAT Exams Complete exam with score analyis; sponsored by Knights of Columbus Post #3858. 610-869-4926. $10. All 8:30 a.m.-noon. Tyler Arboretum 515 Painter Rd, Media; 610-566-9134. Garden Sprouts; ages 4-5. $8 per day. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Tues. Teeny Tiny Trackers: Life Under a Log; age 3 with adult. $8. 10-11 a.m. 6/9. Tiny Trackers: Meander in the Meadow; ages 4-6. $8. 1-2:30 p.m. 6/13. Bats Are Incredible! Ages 6 & up. 7:30-9 p.m. 6/20. Registration required.

Area Library Programs

Events free unless noted.

Pre-registration required for most programs.

Haverford Twp Free Library 1601 Darby Rd, Havertown; 610-446-3082. www.delco.lib.pa.us

*FREE* Prospect Park Library Maryland Ave, Prospect Park; 610-532-4643. Storytimes; all ages. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tues, 11:15-noon & 6:30-7:30 Thus.

For Singles

Professional & Business Singles Network 800-537-3859. www.pbsninfo.com.

The Alligator Zydeco Band will return to its hometown for free performances from 6 to 8 p.m. next Sunday at Glenolden Park, West Knowles Avenue, Glenolden, and from 1 to 4 p.m. July Fourth at Glenolden Park. For information on these events, call 610-583-3221 or check www.glenoldenborough.com.

For a full show schedule for the Alligator Zydeco Band, visit www.alligatorzydeco.com.

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