Monday, March 21, 2005

Buckwheat Zydeco Essentials

Zydeco is much more than frenetic, rhythmic, accordion-rich dance music from the Deep South. It chronicles the history of the black French-speaking Creoles of southwestern Louisiana.

Zydeco blends Carribean rhythm and blues, with pedal-to-the-metal rock, and drums, along with Creole lyrics. The accordion, washboard, drums and guitar play prominent roles. (brief intro to zydeco origins)

One of the most accomplished performers is the aptly-named Buckwheat Zydeco. The band is led by Stanley Dural, nicknamed Buckwheat after the Little Rascals character. Inspired by the father of modern zydeco, Clifton Chenier, he formed his ensemble, and won much acclaim outside his stomping ground of the Coast. Initially with a contract with Rounder Records, and then a major deal with Chris Blackwell, and Island Records, who also popularized reggae via the talent-rich Bob Marley. Featured in the film "The Big Easy", zydeco became quite popular post the release of the film, and led to the band opening for acts like U2 and Eric Clapton. (A fabulous write-up on the growth, and beginnings of Buckwheat Zydeco from the liner notes of "The Buckwheat Zydeco Story")

Buckwheat Zydeco

A good introduction to the band is the CD 'Menagerie' or the personally-selected (by Buck) 'Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party', featuring many of their best pieces, and numerous fine guest musicians. It helps to have an ear for Creole, and to keep a spicy bowl of crawfish & chitlins by your side while spinning the disc.

'Hot Tamale Baby' could be an Indian Bhangra piece, originally by Clifton Chenier, and taken to another level by the band.

'Hey, Good Lookin'" is the Hank Williams composition, sounding quite innovative here, and featuring Dwight Yoakum - fabulous harmony.

"What You Gonna Do?" is a fast, yet introspective number, asking some essential questions when 'you're caught in the desert, and your plane won't fly/ when your rent come due, you gotta pay up or you gotta move/What you gonna do/when the zydeco turn it up on you'

"Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad" is a collaboration with Eric Clapton - fast, two-step swamp rock

Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection/Buckwheat Zydeco Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party/Buckwheat Zydeco The Ultimate Collection/Buckwheat Zydeco Zydeco's Greatest Hits/Various Artists The Big Easy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Various Artists The Big Easy Eve's Bayou Best of Clifton Chenier/Clifton Chenier Zydeco Sont Pas Sale/Clifton Chenier Zydeco Shoes: A Sensory Tour Of Cajun Culture/Alexandria Hayes

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