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Gator By The Bay Celebrates Zydeco, Blues And Bayou Music

Above: Bill Lee and the Swamp Critters

San Diego is home to a lot of people who grew up somewhere else. And nowhere do we see that more than in the range of music played by San Diego bands.

The Gator by the Bay Festival happening this weekend celebrates Zydeco, blues and bayou music, dancing and eating.

Zydeco is a type of dance music that originated in Southern Louisiana. It's a mashup of Cajun, blues, jazz and associated with the accordion, washboard and fiddle.

San Diego band "Billy Lee and the Swamp Critters" is one of more than 60 bands and artists performing at the festival.

Here's the band during a special performance in our studios.

Video

Bill Lee and the Swamp Critters

"Cajun music is in my blood," said vocalist Bill Lee.

He was raised in the Gulf of Mexico near Beaumont, Texas near the border with Louisiana.

Musicians also run in his family but the industry turned him off at first.

"My mom was a musician in Texas. I always said I wasn't going to be a musician. They struggle, they stay up late," he said.

Everything changed when he moved from south Texas to Southern California.

In 1992, he helped open up the Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego.

"The festival sprang up from the social club. Some of us took off and started Gator by the Bay," said Lee.

Lee eventually got a music degree from the University of San Diego and later formed the band with Sandra Stram, Bob Pruitt, Tim Cash, Scott Walker and Eric Hybersten.

Their upcoming album "Lorraine" will be released May 29.

Gator by the Bay, now in its twelfth year, will be held May 10-12 at Spanish Landing Park on North Harbor Drive.

"There's nothing like this festival. There's 13,000 pounds of live crawfish being brought in from Louisiana," Lee said.

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