Blind since birth, it's an inconvenience that hasn't obviously hasn't hindered Lynn August one bit.
"I can't see," said August. "But all my other faculties check out."
August grew up in the Creole section of Lafayette listening to R&B and the local zydeco music. At the age of four, he was memorizing his favorite songs from the radio and reproducing them on a tiny harmonica. As an adolescent, August graduated to drums. By the time he was 11, he was often playing as much as six nights a week at local clubs with his cousins in a rock and roll band. One night the band opened for Esquerita at the White Eagle in Opelousas. Much impressed, the ebony Flash Gordon hired August on the spot. August spent three years with Esquerita playing mostly around New Orleans. It was Esquerita that convinced August that his musical future would be better suited if he became a front man. So as a result, when Esquerita left town, August went home and taught himself to play piano and organ.
For several years, August made a healthy living playing solo in restaurants and nightclubs and in 1966 cut his first single--"Little Red Rooster"--for the local Tamm label. Two years later, he formed a large combo, which played local clubs like Slim's Y-Ki-Ki. By 1970, a barroom brawl in club convinced him to go back as a solo artist on the Holiday Inn Circuit.
In 1978, he was hired to play organ in accordionist Marcel Dugas' band. It was then that he observed the growing popularity of zydeco. Two years later, August's wife convinced him to purchase his own accordion. August woodshedded for six months and then formed a zydeco group, the aptly named Hot August Nights. The band was soon kicking up dust on the festival and zydeco circuits. In 1989, he made his first zydeco album for the local Maison de Soul imprint. This was followed by two great CDs released on Black Top, a label with national and international exposure.
In 1994, August was booked for a lengthy tour of Europe. The promoter asked August to record a CD for the tour. August did so, producing and playing several of the instruments on the CD. Not only was the CD very good, but it also provided August some interesting job skills.
August's career took a turn two years later when he founded his own company, Touch Tech. From working in the studio, August learned as much about programming and operating computers as he could. August designed and sold computers to blind people so they could go back to school and learn job skills. August built the company into a half-million dollar a year business, all while spending 75 percent of his time on the road. Naturally the strain was overwhelming and in 1998, August had to submit to open-heart surgery.
Fully recovered, naturally August's schedule has been reduced, but he has retained his passion for music and recording. His most resent project, Legends Making Memories, teams him up with swamp pop legend Willie Tee and the Cypress group. It was released in 2012 on the Maison de Soul label.
By: Jeff Hannusch