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Meet Handcrafted America’s Artisan Tee Don Landry, Key of Z Rubboards

Tee Don Landry, Key of Z Rubboards

Listen to any Zydeco band and you’ll hear that distinctive percussive sound of the “frottoir,” the rubboard. Tee Don Landry’s roots go straight to the very beginning of this unique instrument, one of few created in America, because it was invented by his father, metalsmith, Willie Landry in 1946 for the then unknown Creole musicians Clifton and Cleveland Chenier. Clifton went on to be known as the “King of Zydeco.”

Today, Tee Don, a Zydeco and Cajun musician in his own right, carries on that historic family tradition. All of Key of Z rubboards are made of stainless steel by hand, and are numbered and registered.

They’re in demand worldwide, and played by some of Zydeco’s best known stars, and by musicians in other musical genres, as well, including Buckwheat Zydeco, C.J. Chenier (son of Clifton Chenier), ZZ Top, Kid Rock, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rihanna, and many others.

Meet Tee Don…

What drew you to your chosen craft?

I have always been fascinated by this instrument. I enjoyed playing the rubboard for many years before finding out my father had designed the over the shoulder part of the rubboard in 1946 for Clifton and Cleveland Chenier.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I enjoy everything about it, but mostly the happiness my instruments bring to people.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?

It is important to make things by hand because that is what makes each item unique and special. It is important to show the next generation how to make things by hand to be creative.

In what ways are hand-made goods better than those that are mass produced?

Handmade products are better than mass produced because each one is unique in that no two are exactly alike. Someone who takes the time to make handmade products takes pride in the results.

What does the future hold for your type of work?

The future of my work is uncertain because no one in the family has shown an interest in continuing with this trade.


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