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Published: 2002/04/22
by Chip Schramm

Down Home Live! – Buckwheat Zydeco

Tomorrow Recordings 70004-2

It's always a great combination when you can find an album that is both
musically enriching and selfishly entertaining at the same time. And no
matter what connotation the word "zydeco" may have in the average music
listener's mind, you don't have to be a graduate of Louisiana State
University or even Tulane to enjoy this album. World renowned as a
mainstay on the touring festival circuit, Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, Jr.
has built upon the cultural tradition of musicians like Clifton Chernier.
Indeed, his instrument of choice is the squeezebox, or accordion to the lay

It goes without saying that making the same kind of music for so many years
has made Buckwheat a master of his craft. But what makes this live album
interesting is the well-orchestrated support he gets from his band. He has
three guitars, three horns, bass, and – of course – a guy on washboard.
With all that
in the mix, it's almost amazing how smooth this album sounds. Part of that
stems from the fact that Buckwheat did the musical arrangements for the
live performance in advance, so it was somewhat rehearsed. But you
couldn't tell that if you didn't read the liner notes, like me. His
energetic shouts to the audience (and of course the band) come off as
totally spontaneous, which is one of the finer points of a good band in any
live environment.

Most of the music on the album is good time boogie, with the expected
undercurrents of Louisiana Cajun tradition flavoring the songs throughout.
The song arrangements vary from zydeco staples like "What You Gonna
Do" and "Hard To Stop" to Fat's Domino's "Walking To New
Orleans", and The Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden" as a cover to
close the album. Even the original "Make A Change" has some reggae
feel, adding to the depth of musical influences at work on the album. All
the songs are lengthy numbers, as the band expands and contracts its sound
to match the billowing of Buckwheat's accordion.

There is a lot of jamming throughout the album, which really brings to
light the notion that Buckwheat Zydeco was one of the original jambands,
long before more modern acts like Leftover Salmon covered some of their
songs. Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal takes some surprisingly aggressive guitar
solos in spots, which seems oddly at home with the horns, washboard, and
accordion. The horn interplay is very upbeat and even throughout, which is
a testament to the chemistry Buckwheat is able to mix with his band. two of
the horn players are from his touring band, while the other two are from his
home of Lafayatte, in southwestern Louisiana.

This album really is bright, positive dance party music, as only
Louisianans can provide. Just hearing it again makes me wish I could go
back down to Jazzfest this year, or maybe sneak an extra trip down one
night of Mardi Gras, when I'm not in Mobile, my own home. Above all else,
this is an album worth exploring for those that appreciate groove jazz and
all its musical relations. With spring in the air, this kind of music
should get play from the swamps of the Deep South to large urban music
halls from coast to coast.

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