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Are you ready to Zydeco?



New Orleans’ Buckwheat blows into Buffalo Bill’s

Who: Buckwheat Zydeco

Where: Buffalo Bill’s

When: Wednesday, Aug. 27

If there’s ever a CD to get you out of the blues, one of Buckwheat Zydeco’s would be it. Especially their most recent release, the much anticipated live CD, Down Home Live .

It’s had me up and off the couch after summer heat lethargy more times than my neighbours would care to remember. "Are you ready to Zydeco?" the MC asks the already screaming crowd booming out of my stereo speakers.

"Yes!" I shout to the air, stirring out of my late afternoon slumber.

"Are you ready to Zydeco?" he repeats, and yes I shout again.

Next thing you know, Buckwheat’s out on stage, the accordian starts going, the band chime in and everyone’s going nuts. Including me, in the privacy of my own living room.

If you haven’t been to a Buckwheat Zydeco show, this CD is about as good as it gets, but one step better would be to get down – I mean really get down – to Buffalo Bill’s next Wednesday night, Aug. 27. I had the honour of seeing Buckwheat Zydeco at the Funky Butt Bar in Congo Square, New Orleans, several years ago for the famous annual Jazzfest.

Let’s just say I danced till dawn with people who were double my age, double my size yet sexier, sassier and more soulful than I could ever pull off. But everyone was welcome at the Funky Butt and Buckwheat blew the roof off the jumpin’ joint, which was apparently a standard night out for the fans in the know.

"We do this all the time, that’s just Buckwheat," my new dancing sidekicks would say to me as I tried to get over my stitch and catch my breath.

But don’t just take my word for it – ask the experts. The Wall Street Journal called the New Orleans zydeco outfit the "best party band in America" and Atlanta’s summer Olympics in 1996 had Buckwheat Zydeco performing at the closing ceremony – to an audience of about 3 billion people worldwide.

The band opened and closed ex-president Bill Clinton’s first and second Inaugurations, they opened for U2, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Los Lobos and are ranked by Pollstar magazine as one of the world’s top 50 touring acts.

So who is Buckwheat Zydeco? Leading man is no doubt the zydeco maestro himself, Stanley Buckwheat Dural Jr., a piano accordion genius who also knows how to tear apart the Hammond B3 organ in his quest for the good times. Just being around him is infectious. This man can move. Think a cuter James Brown with that contagious Cajun charm.

Dural was the first zydeco artist ever signed to a major label and the first zydeco artist to perform on a national television show. He’s dedicated his life to bringing the heart of Creole country to audiences around the world with an energy and zest that belies his 56 years of age.

Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, in America’s deep south, Dural grew up in a close knit community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French. They also play and dance to zydeco, a hybrid musical blend of Caribbean rhythms, blues, soul, rock, country and Cajun music. As the son of a zydeco accordionist, Dural grew up steeped in this culture and also absorbed Lafayette’s prodigious output of blues and Gulf Coast "swamp pop".

He began his career as a travelling R&B sideman, playing keyboards for many of the music legends of the late ’60s.

It wasn’t until the mid ’70s that zydeco music was suddenly embraced by the rest of America as a cultural treasure. After years playing in bands that reflected a black contemporary style, it was time for Dural to go back to his roots. He ended up playing organ and piano for the late, great King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier and learned all he could from the master of Creole music. After three years learning from the godfather, Dural, now known as Buck, decided it was time to go out on his own and Buckwheat Zydeco was formed.

With more than 20 years on the road, these guys are the consummate carnivale collective, with a cultural treasure at the helm who can party harder than any of us can.

Tickets are $25 from Buffalo Bill’s or Bestsellers music and book store. Call 604 932 6613 for more information or visit www.buckwheatzydeco.com.

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