Beau Jocque


Beau Jocque
Beau Jocque at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, 1997
Beau Jocque at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, 1997
Background information
Birth nameAndrus Espre
Born(1953-11-01)November 1, 1953
Duralde, Evangeline Parish, Louisiana
DiedSeptember 10, 1999(1999-09-10) (aged 45)
Kinder, Louisiana
InstrumentsAccordion, vocals
Years active1991–1999
Mardi Gras Records
Associated actsBoozoo Chavis

Beau Jocque (born Andrus Espre; November 1, 1953 – September 10, 1999) was a Louisiana French Creole zydeco musician and songwriter active in the 1990s.

Beau Jocque is known for his gruff vocals, his fusion of many musical styles into zydeco, and above all, for the powerful energy of his rhythm and sound. Backed by the Hi-Rollers, he became one of the top dance-hall acts of his musical decade. He wrote, recorded and performed many songs in both Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole languages, as well as in English, primarily on the Rounder Records label.

Early life

Beau Jocque was born Andrus Espre[1] in Duralde, Louisiana[2] to Sandrus and Vernice (née Allen) Espre. His father (nicknamed "Tee Toe") was a well-respected accordion player who performed at many local dances, but who quit playing music when Andrus' older brother was born.[3] Andrus played guitar in a high school band[3] but his influences were not zydeco musicians but rather acts such as War, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Santana.[4]

He enlisted in the Air Force[5] after high school, and eventually made it to the rank of sergeant, had a top security clearance and was stationed in London and Germany.[3] He once escorted Henry Kissinger around Europe.[6] Espre had his first near-death experience while in the Air Force, when an explosion left him in the hospital with amnesia.[3] He spent nine years in the military,[7] then came home to work as an electrician and welder. He was a long time resident of Kinder, Louisiana. He was also known to write poetry, and preach about respecting nature.


Working in an oil refinery after leaving the Air Force,[6] Espre experienced a work-related accident on September 4, 1987,[3] which left him temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.[4] During his recuperation, as part of his therapy he began playing his father's button accordion.[2] After a year of practice and gaining proficiency on the accordion, Espre and his wife Michelle (AKA Shelly) began to study the styles of the successful groups on the zydeco circuit. "We checked out C. J. Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Boozoo Chavis, John Delafose and I'd watch the crowd. When they got real excited, I'd try to feel what was happening at that point. Was it the rhythm guitar? The drums? The accordion style? I realized that when you get the whole thing just right, it's going to move the crowd."[6]

Espre grew up speaking Louisiana Creole French and spoke it fluently. As he was physically a large man at 6 ft 6 in (198 cm) tall and 270 pounds (120 kg), he took the stage name "Beau Jocque," which was a childhood nickname in Louisiana Creole meaning "Big Guy." In 1991,[4] he put a band together, including his wife Shelly on rubboard.[7] They initially talked themselves into a few gigs in small clubs or for trail ride parties, and word spread quickly about a new zydeco artist. He especially appealed to a younger crowd by incorporating rock guitar solos, blues-rock beats, and rap lines into his songs, along with his bass vocals and growling lyrics.[6] His initial recording got airplay on local radio stations and the larger zydeco clubs began to take notice. Within a short amount of time, Beau Jocque was playing clubs four to five nights a week[4] and just a few years after his accident, Espre was one of the biggest draws on the Louisiana zydeco circuit. In June 1995 one newspaper stated that "There has simply never been a zydeco phenomenon like Beau Jocque and the Hi-Rollers" who have "thoroughly modernized zydeco".[8] His major zydeco influence was Boozoo Chavis who also played the button accordion, with hypnotic riffs and two-step stomps that were favorites with south Louisiana dancers.[6]

In 1995 Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers were the headliners on the Rounder Records "Louisiana Red Hot Music Tour".[7] In June 1999 they were a featured band at the first annual New Jersey Arts and Music Festival.[9]

Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers won the Big Easy Music Awards three times as Best Zydeco Artist.[10][11][7]


Beau Jocque's first recording was a 1992 vanity release titled My Name is Beau Jocque (Lanor Records 1031),[4] which was re-issued in 1994 by Paula Records. Espre sent cassettes of this release to area radio stations and also sold them at his gigs. He had to re-order more copies because they sold very quickly.

Scott Billington, a producer for Rounder Records who was familiar with the Louisiana zydeco scene, picked up on the buzz surrounding Beau Jocque and signed him to his label. Beau Jocque Boogie was released in 1993, and it contained the song that became his first hit and signature song, "Give Him Cornbread".[4] The song, written by Espre, includes elements of Willis Prudhomme's zydeco arrangement of "Shortnin' Bread" and FM's hip hop song "Gimme What You Got (For a Porkchop)".[6] Audiences demanded that the band play that song multiple times at dances, and as the song gained popularity, fans would throw pieces of cornbread onto the stage.[6][4] Beau Jocque Boogie became the highest-selling zydeco album ever.[7]

Beau Jocque recorded five studio albums for Rounder, with a sixth live album titled Give Him Cornbread, Live released on the label posthumously in 2000. The label also issued two posthumous compilation albums. All were financial successes for both the label and the artist.[4] His contract with Rounder was not exclusive,[4] so Beau Jocque also recorded two albums for New Orleans-based Mardi Gras Records as well as a mini-CD on his own label.

Rivalry with Boozoo Chavis

Beau Jocque's rapid rise to the top of the zydeco circuit created some tension with the older musicians, who felt he hadn't paid his dues. Zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis even recorded a song called "Boozoo's Payback" that included the lyrics "He plays my music and he does me wrong, but he can't sing my song", directed at Beau Jocque.[6]

But the rivalry was also good for business. The Mid-City Lanes Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans staged annual mock battles billed as "Boo vs. Beau" during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which each year drew more than 1,000 patrons and set attendance records at the venue. One year, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones paid the $5 admission charge to experience the showdown.[4] One such "battle of the bands" was the centerpiece of a 1994 documentary film The Kingdom of Zydeco by director Robert Mugge.[12]

It was a friendly rivalry. The two musicians often traded insults in public[7][3] but they were supportive of each other in private. Beau Jocque often played Chavis' songs during his performances, and even performed at a benefit concert to raise money to pay the costs of surgery for Chavis' wife.[3] In the 1994 film, both musicians admitted that the battle of the bands was a promotional gimmick.[12]

The final "Boo vs. Beau" battle in New Orleans was held on May 2, 1999 at the Rock n' Bowl.[13]

Personal life

Espre and his wife Michelle ("Shelly") had two sons, Andrus Adrian and Justin Travis.[7]

In 1995, Espre suffered a heart attack in Austin, Texas while touring with Marcia Ball and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Radio stations in Louisiana had reported the 1995 heart attack was fatal, and he surprised his fans (including the town's mayor) by shortly thereafter appearing in the local supermarket in Kinder.[14]


On September 9, 1999, Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers performed a two-set show at the Rock n' Bowl in New Orleans, and afterwards drove the approximately 200 miles on Interstate 10 back to Kinder.[4] The next morning, Beau Jocque was found collapsed in the shower by his wife, dead of an apparent heart attack[2] at the height of his career. He is buried in Saint Matilda Cemetery, Eunice, Louisiana.[4]

Espre's death was preceded only two weeks earlier by the death of his father, Sandrus.[5]

Hi-Rollers personnel

Members of the Hi-Rollers include:[14]

  • Chuck Bush (bass)
  • Steve Charlot (drums)
  • Russell "Sly" Dorion (guitar)
  • Ray Johnson (guitar)
  • Mike Lockett (keyboard)
  • Wilfred Pierre (rubboard)


Studio and live albums

Album title Record label Stock number Release year
Beau Jocque Boogie Rounder CD 2120 1993
Pick Up on This! Rounder CD 2129 1994
My Name is Beau Jocque Paula Records PCD-1031 1994
Nursery Rhyme Beau Jocques Music 1001 1995
Git It, Beau Jocque! Rounder CD 2134 1995
Gonna Take You Downtown Rounder CD 2150 1996
Check It Out, Lock It In, Crank It Up! Rounder 11661-2158-2 1998
Zydeco Giant Mardi Gras Records MG 1043 1999
I'm Coming Home Mardi Gras 1046 2000
Give Him Cornbread, Live! Rounder 11661-2160-2 2000

Singles and EPs

Song title(s) Album title Record label Stock number Release year Note(s)
"Pop That Coochie" / "My Name Is Beau Jocque" My Name Is Beau Jocque Paula Records 461 <unknown> 7", 45 RPM
"Don't Sell That Monkey" / "Maria" (performed by Roy Carrier) <unknown> Paula P-463 <unknown> 7", 45 RPM
"Make It Stank (Special Aromatic Dance Mix)" / "Make It Stank (Special Aromatic Dance Mix with Spoken Intro)" Gonna Take You Downtown Rounder PR 1077 <unknown> 12", 33 1/3 RPM, Promotional single

Various artist compilation albums

Album title Record label Stock number Release year Song title(s)
Feet: A Global Dance Party Ellipsis Arts CD 1010 1993 (reissued in 2004) "Give Him Cornbread"
Roundup The Unusual Suspects: The Roundup Records CD Sampler, Summer 1994 Rounder RUP-1 1994 "Don't Tell Your Mama, Don't Tell Your Papa"
WWOZ on CD Friends of WWOZ <unknown> 1994 "Beau's Mardi Gras"
Alligator Stomp: Cajun & Zydeco, The Next Generation, Vol. 5 Rhino R2 71846 1995 "Give Him Cornbread"
The Lanor Records Story, 1960-1992 Zane Records (UK) ZNCD 1009 1995 "My Name Is Beau Jocque"
Louisiana Spice: 25 Years of Louisiana Music on Rounder Records Rounder CD AN 18/19 1995 "Give Him Cornbread"
The Real Music Box: 25 Years of Rounder Records Rounder CD AN 25 1995 "Give Him Cornbread"
The Royal Family of Zydeco Rock 'n Bowl (Rounder Records) CD 1001 1995 "Give Him Cornbread"
"Brownskin Woman"
"Beau Jocque Boogie"
Young Zydeco Desperadoes: Black Creole Sounds of Today Trikont (Germany) US - 0204 1995 "Give Him Cornbread"
"Ma Brunette"
"Beau Jocque Shuffle"
All Over The Map Rounder CD AN 26 1996 "Nonc Adam"
Bayou Dance Party EasyDisc ED CD 7014 1996 "Richard's Club"
Planet Music Sampler: Vol. 7 Louisiana Fest Planet Music <unknown> 1996 "Git It, Beau Jocque"
The Real Louisiana EasyDisc ED 9002 1996 "Nonc Adam"
Roll Up The Rug: Triple Swing Time, volume 2 Living Traditions Music <unknown> 1996 <unknown>
The Very Best of Cajun Dino Entertainment (UK) DINCD 127 1996 "My Name Is Beau Jocque"
Zydeco's Greatest Hits EasyDisc ED CD 7025 1996 "Give Him Cornbread"
Bayou Beat EasyDisc EDCD 7053 1997 "Beau's Cajun Two Step"
CMJ New Music Monthly, Volume 41 January 1997 College Music Journal <unknown> 1997 "Gonna Take You Down"
Discover the Rhythms of Cajun/Zydeco EMI LC0542 1997 "Brownskin Woman"
Hey Mardi Gras! EasyDisc ED CD 7015 1997 "Beau's Mardi Gras"
Rounder Essentials: A Baker's Dozen Rounder CD 9902 1997 "Give Him Cornbread"
Southern Gumbo: The Best of New Orleans R&B, Soul and Zydeco on Rounder Records Rounder (German release) BR1 1997 "Make It Stank"
Zydeco Dance Hall EasyDisc ED CD 7035 1997 "Git It, Beau Jocque!"
"Couché Dehors Ce Soir"
Cajun & Zydeco Festival EasyDisc ED CD 7067 1998 "A Little Love Always Make it Bettah"
Crescent City Songbook Rounder VS-1 1998 "Gonna Take You Downtown"
Mardi Gras Time EasyDisc CD 9004 1998 "Mardi Gras Blues"
Zydeco Barnyard EasyDisc 12136-7070-2 1998 "Shaggy Dog 2-Step"
Zydeco Fever!: A Sizzling Hot Louisiana Combo of Cajun and R&B Nascente (UK) NSCD 029 1998 "Make It Stank (Aromatic Dance Mix)"
"Baby Please Don't Go"
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door"
Zydeco Party EasyDisc ED CD 7045 1998 "Comin' In"
Zydeco Stomp: All Instrumental Rounder ED CD 7065 1998 "Kinder 2-Step"
Allons en Louisiane Rounder 11161-60993-2 1999 "Going To The Country"
Cajun & Zydeco Jamboree EasyDisc ED 12136-7076-2 1999 "Just One Kiss"
Cajun Heat Zydeco Beat EasyDisc ED 1213670772 1999 <unknown>
Gaga for Ya-Ya: Zydeco Madness Winter & Winter (Germany) 910 041-2 1999 "Tequila"
"Come Go With Me"
Let's Party, It's Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras Records JS 1305 1999 "The Second Line/The Back Door"
The Oxford American Southern Sampler: 1999 Oxford American <unknown> 1999 "Don't Tell Your Mama, Don't Tell Your Papa"
WWOZ on CD: Roll Wid It! Friends of WWOZ <unknown> 1999 "Get It Beau Jocque"
Zydeco Essentials Hip-O Records 767 440161 2 1999 "Low Rider"
Absolutely The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco, vol. II Fuel 2000; Varèse Sarabande 302 061 114 2 2000 "Ma Brunette"
Putumayo Presents Zydeco Putumayo World Music PUTU 160-2 2000 "What You Gonna Do?"
Super Mardi Gras Mardi Gras Records MG1045 2000 "The Second Line/The Back Door"
Authentic Zydeco Music: From Southwest Louisiana Jose Suescun Music Distribution JS 1318 2001 "My Name Is Beau Jocque"
"When You Think About Me"
"Grand Marais Two-Step"
"Beau Jocque Two-Step"
Mardi Gras in New Orleans Rounder 1166-11600-2 2001 "Beau's Mardi Gras"
Roots Music: An American Journey Rounder 11661-0501-2 2001 "Just One Kiss"
Ultimate Zydeco Mardi Gras Records MG 1056 2001 "Pine Point Trail Ride"
"No Good Woman"
Au Revoir Mambito Records MR003 2002 <unknown>
Louisiana: The Rough Guide to the Music of Louisiana World Music Network (UK) RGNET 1094 CD 2002 "Mardi Gras Blues"
Louisiana Legends Collection Mambito MR004 2002 "I'm A Lonely Boy"
The Louisiana Party Collection: Cajun & Zydeco Classics Time-Life Music M18851 2002 "Give Him Cornbread"
The Louisiana Party Collection: 30 Cajun & Zydeco Classics Time-Life Music R154-36 2002 "Give Him Cornbread"
Zydecajun Instrumentals Mambito MR001 2002 <unknown>
Zydeco: The Essential Collection Rounder 1166-11605-2 2002 "I'm On The Wonder"
"Give Him Cornbread"
American Routes with Nick Spitzer: Carnival Public Radio International AR 03-09 2003 "Mardi Gras Blues"
Boozoo Hoodoo!: The Songs of Boozoo Chavis Fuel 2000 302 061 278-2 2003 "Boogie Woogie All Night"
Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans Shout! Factory D4K 37441 2004 "Give Him Cornbread"
Best of Louisiana Music! Mardi Gras Records MG 5102 2005 "Morning Train"
Rough Guide to Zydeco World Music Network (UK) RGNET 1145 CD 2005 "Boogie Chillun"
Down South Party Mix Mardi Gras Records MG 1092 2006 "I'm A Girl Watcher"
New Orleans: Rebuild, Restore, Rejoice Mardi Gras Records MG 5104 2006 "I'm A Girl Watcher"
Rough Guide to Zydeco: Allons Danser! Creole Accordions Dance World Music Network (UK) RGNET 1145 CD 2006 <unknown>
Putumayo World Party Putumayo World Music PUTU 263-2 2007 "Just One Kiss"
The Essential Guide to Cajun Music Play It Again Sam 6891316025 2008 "Baby Please Don't Go"
"Give Him Cornbread"
Absolutely The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco, vol. 3 Fuel 2000 302 061 778 2 2009 "Boogie Woogie All Nite Long"
The Rounder Records Story Rounder 11661-3295-2 2010 "Give Him Cornbread"
The Heart, The Soul, The Spirit Larrikin Entertainment (Australia) <unknown> <unknown> "Give Him Cornbread"


  • Louisiana Blues (directed by Jean-Pierre Bruneau, 1993); Beau Jocque appears as himself in a film history of Cajun and Zydeco music.[15]
  • The Kingdom of Zydeco (directed by Robert Mugge, 1994); Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis appear in this documentary which features their friendly rivalry while both were seeking to earn the title "King of Zydeco" following the deaths of Clifton Chenier and Rockin' Dopsie.[16]
  • By the River of Babylon: An Elegy for South Louisiana (TV documentary directed by Don Howard and Jim Shelton, 2015); includes music performances by Beau Jocque and Clifton Chenier.[17]

Other media appearances


  • 1994: Big Easy Music Awards, Best Zydeco Artist[10]
  • 1994: Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers were voted Hottest Band at the inaugural Zydeco People's Choice Awards. Additionally, band member Classie Ballou was named as Best Bass Guitarist at the same awards ceremony.[20]
  • 1995: Big Easy Music Awards, Best Zydeco Artist[11]
  • 1995: Beau Jocque's composition "Yesterday" (from his Pick Up On This! album) won the Best Song of the Year award at the Second Annual Zydeco People's Choice Awards. Hi-Rollers bandmate Ray Johnson also received the award for Best Lead Guitar Player.[21]
  • 2000: Big Easy Music Awards, Best Zydeco Artist[22]


  1. ^ "Jocque, Beau". Library of Congress. October 7, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (September 13, 1999). "Beau Jocque, 45, Musician Whose Band Updated Zydeco". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Tisserand, Michael (1998). "Riding Low and Rolling High". The Kingdom of Zydeco (First ed.). New York, NY: Arcade Publishing. pp. 267–278. ISBN 1-55970-418-7. OCLC 38765020. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hannusch, Jeff (May 1, 2002). "Masters of Louisiana Music: Andrus "Beau Jocque" Espre". OffBeat Magazine. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Cross, Dominick (September 11, 1999). "Beau Jocque, zydeco musician, dies at 43". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. B1, 3.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Himes, Geoffrey (June 22, 1994). "Zydeco's Newest Big Squeeze". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Henry, Elizabeth (2004). "Jocque, Beau". Contemporary Musicians. Gale. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Who's Who of Riverbend". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Chattanooga, TN. June 16, 1995. p. F2.
  9. ^ Bonelli, Winnie (April 11, 1999). "Woodstock '99 Will Celebrate 30th Anniversary on July 23–25". Herald News. Woodland Park, NJ. p. C15.
  10. ^ a b "Big Easy: Neville Big Award Winner". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. April 20, 1994. p. A13.
  11. ^ a b "Jazz sax player Anderson among Easy award winners". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. May 5, 1995. p. FUN section, 15.
  12. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (July 2, 1994). "Film Review: The Top Contenders to Be King of Zydeco". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "Sunday's Calendar". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. May 2, 1999. p. Living section, 14E.
  14. ^ a b Billington, Scott (April 22, 2015). "Beau Jocque: The Funkiest Band in the Land". Zydeco Crossroads. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "Louisiana Blues (1993)". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Kingdom of Zydeco (1994)". Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  17. ^ "Season 3 of AMERICA REFRAMED airs Tuesdays, on Public Television's WORLD Channel at 8 p.m.". USA. PR Newswire. April 6, 2015.
  18. ^ "Late Night With Conan O'Brien (1993–2009) Episode #2.188". IMDb. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  19. ^ "People: Celebrity News and Notes". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. February 10, 2010. p. Living Section, C01.
  20. ^ Cross, Dominick (January 18, 1994). "Chavis' chops are tops at new zydeco awards". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. News section, 1-B.
  21. ^ Cross, Dominick (January 23, 1995). "Zydeco Master Crowned". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 4B.
  22. ^ "Big Easy Award Winners Announced". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. April 26, 2000. p. National section, A13.

Further reading

  • Sandmel, Ben (1999). Zydeco!. photographs by Rick Olivier. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press. ISBN 9781578061150. OCLC 40143040.

External links