The first Frottoir to be used strictly as a musical instrument, was born from that historical, chance encounter between a now famous, Creole musician and a Cajun metal craftsman. The story of this historic musical invention remained a quiet, respectfully-held source of family pride for the Landry family with connection to the Cheniers for more than fifty years. And now, the time had come to historically record this event, Tee Don and his mother, Ms. Myrtis Landry, and CJ Chenier, Mr. Clifton's son are the sole surviving keepers of this story. To this day, Tee Don Landry continues the valued tradition first established by his father in 1946. All " Key of Z" (TM) Rubboards are still shaped and finished by hand.
‘Tee Don’ Landry, Rubboard Royalty
“Tee Don” Landry has a historic, international business that has established Sunset,LA as the Rubboard Capital of the World. His customers include ZZ Top, Kid Rock, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rihanna and Grammy-winning zydeco bands.
Landry has shipped more than 4,000 of his handcrafted Key of Z Rubboards across the globe. Local and national TV channels have featured his work.
Landry and his worldwide, rubboard legacy have now crowned him as grand marshal of the Sunset,LA Mardi Gras.
Rubboard royalty is in Landry’s blood. In 1946, his father Willie Landry, a master metal worker, made the first laundry washboard-turned-musical instrument from a drawing in the sand by zydeco pioneers Clifton and Cleveland Chenier.
Historians believe that momentous, Creole and Cajun collaboration makes the rubboard one of the few musical instruments invented in the United States. One of those rubboards resides in the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
Born in 1957 in Port Arthur, Texas, Tee Don Landry was 3-years old when his family moved back to Louisiana. He developed a strong interest in music, but was unaware of his family’s rubboard history until watching a video about Clifton Chenier.
Chenier, who had become the Grammy-winning, King of Zydeco, told the story of the sand-drawn, “piece of tin” worn as a vest over the shoulders. A curious Landry asked his mother Myrtis about the Landry that Chenier talked about in the video. She replied, “Mais Tee Don, that was your daddy.”
Landry’s interest in the music and culture exploded after that revelation. He traveled the world playing rubboard with Lynn August and the Hot August Knights and Zydeco Joe Mouton.
He started his trademark, Key of Z Rubboards, and quickly became the favorites of Buckwheat Zydeco. C. J. Chenier, Chubby Carrier, Terrance Simien, Boozoo Chavis, Geno Delafose, Rockin’ Dopsie, Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies and other top zydeco bands. But the customer base also expanded to include Pop Star Rihanna, Miranda Lambert,Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Billy F Gibbons, Elvin Bishop, Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers, Lyle Lovette drummer Dan Tomlinson, Gatemouth Brown drummer David Peters, Amanda Shaw drummer Roger Kennedy and other renowned percussionists.
Landry has demonstrated and sold his rubboards at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festivals Acadians et Creoles and Festival International de Louisiane.
Each rubboard is numbered and registered. The instruments come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors to satisfy customers who order them for Christmas, Mardi Gras and other gift occasions.
In the international press he has received, Landry often mentions the joy of making his “happy instrument.”
“I’ve never seen a person who wasn’t smiling when they play the rubboard,” said Landry. “They’re always happy to get it.”
By: Herman Fuselier
Enjoy playing one of these amazing instruments or simply enjoy owning a piece of Zydeco Music History! Contact Tee Don for your own frottoir!
Member of : Louisiana Crafts Guild , Louisiana Division of the Arts.
Billy F. Gibbons , of ZZ Top says," the Frottoir (ie.) Rubboard is one of only four musical instruments invented in the United States".
Tee Don is still making the musical instrument his father, Mr. Willie J. Landry helped to invent back in 1946. Each Rubboard is hand crafted one at a time, as well as being numbered and registered.