COREY LEDET KICKS UP HIS GAME WITH “STANDING ON FAITH”
Parks, LA — CPL Records proudly announces the release of Grammy-nominated Zydeco innovator, singer/songwriter/accordion player COREY LEDET & HIS ZYDECO BAND’s “STANDING ON FAITH” (his ninth album) on MARCH 3, 2017. “STANDING ON FAITH” was co-produced by Cecil Green and Jesse Delgizzi and recorded at the Green Room in Ville Platte, LA. Joining Ledet (Accordions/Drums/Vocals/Washboard) in the studio were Delgizzi (Guitar/Bass/Moog/Vocals) and Green (Keyboards).
Ledet injects pop, funk, rhythm-and-blues and reggae on “STANDING ON FAITH”. In doing so, he continues to work from the genre-splicing template set by such zydeco pioneers as Clifton Chenier and Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural. After opening with the funky, Prince-like “Intro,” “STANDING ON FAITH,” continues with the upbeat zydeco-pop instrumental, “Love Never Felt So Good”; stays positive with the album’s zydeco-pop title song; glides to breezy R&B balladry for “Take Me There”; plots a reggae course with the sunny “A Good Day”; and slips into the sleek, contemporary R&B of “Street Light.”
“I don’t like to stick with something that’s easy, or just the way it’s supposed to be,” Ledet says. “I like to explore and experiment. That makes music fun. It’s like cooking. When you’re cooking a recipe, you say, let me try this with that, let me see if this works.”
During most of his 14 years as a band leader, Ledet based his repertoire on the foundation set by Clifton Chenier and other zydeco pioneers. But now he’s moving beyond the zydeco classics. “I can do that all night long,” Ledet says. “But I can do other things as well. Traditional zydeco, nontraditional, pop. I can go any which way I want. This is my way of creating a sound that fits me.”
Blending styles is challenging for Ledet, but he likes the challenge. But before he became a music mixologist, he learned the zydeco basics. “I did all the studying and research I could do,” he says. ‘It took a long time. There’s a lot to learn about zydeco and Creole music. But it’s important to know your background before you learn anything else. After I finished studying all of that, I learned other stuff that interested me. Pop music, classical music. I even listened to Frank Sinatra. People laughed at me, but I listened to anything that’s got notes.”
On the bandstand, Ledet mixes songs originally recorded by pop and country artists into his show: Bruno Mars, Prince, Michael Jackson, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, reggae fountainhead Bob Marley. Again, Chenier served as a model. “He mixed the old French music with rhythm-and-blues,” Ledet says. ”Ray Charles and Etta James and Louis Jordan were of Clifton’s time. That worked for him. I’m applying Cliff’s recipe to modern-day times, my way.”
At 35, Ledet brings 25 years of bandstand experience to the stage. He turned pro at 10, playing drums in his native Houston for Wilbert Thibodeaux and the Zydeco Rascals. Ledet came naturally to the drums, his first instrument. His late grandfather, Buchanan ‘Tbu’ Ledet, worked as drummer for Clifton Chenier. Although Ledet’s grandfather died in 1978, three years before his birth, the grandson idolizes his grandfather. Chenier’s longtime drummer, Robert Peter, followed the drumming example Ledet’s grandfather set in 1940s and ’50s. “Cliff wanted a drummer who played like my grandfather,” Ledet says. “When you hear Robert, that’s my grandfather’s style.”
For Ledet, working with Thibodeaux and the Zydeco Rascals was like going to zydeco school. The lessons included such essential subjects as keeping the beat and, something less definable, reading audiences. “And whenever other drummers came in the venue, Wilbert called them up to the drums and let me play accordion,” Ledet remembers.
During his decade with Thibodeaux, Ledet organized some gigs on the side for himself as a front man. He officially launched his own band in 2003, after moving to his father’s hometown, Parks, Louisiana. Many people ask Ledet why he left Houston for Parks, a town that has hundreds, rather than millions, of residents. Ledet already knew Parks well. When he was growing up in Houston, his family visited Parks during summers and for holidays and special occasions. “It was hard to leave to go back to Houston,” he remembers. “I like the city, but I like the country better. Some kind of spiritual connection.” On those family drives from Houston to Parks, the family tuned to a zydeco radio as soon as they got close enough to receive the signal. Once they reached Parks, the zydeco music never stopped. “I like all music,” Ledet says. “But zydeco is the first pick for music for me.”
Ledet paid his dues after he launched his career as a band leader from Parks. “I had to build everything from nothing, make my name, make my rounds, prove myself,” he says. “Playing to chairs and tables, paying my band members 10 bucks or five bucks for the night. For a long time, I didn’t make anything.” Ledet persevered, building his music career from the muddy southwest Louisiana ground up. Highlights include his 2013 Grammy nomination for “Nothin’ But the Best,” a collaboration with fellow zydeco musicians Anthony Dopsie, Dwayne Dopsie and André Thierry. “Oh, man, when that happened, I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ Because never in a million years did I think I’d be sitting in the same row at Grammys with Taylor Swift. To come from ground zero to that, lets me know I’m doing something right. I’m kicking up my game by making records like ‘Standing On Faith.’ I want to go even further and do bigger and better things.”
Corey Ledet keeps one foot firmly in the tradition while exploring surrounding influences in order to create the best of both worlds, and is able to infuse old and new styles of Zydeco into his own unique sound. “STANDING ON FAITH” presents the best view yet of the Grammy-nominated Ledet’s expansive talent. Corey Ledet has recently signed an exclusive representation deal with Mitchell & Matt Greenhill’s FLi Artists: fliartists.com/corey-ledet-zydeco-band.
Catch COREY LEDET & HIS ZYDECO BAND (Corey Ledet – Accordion/Vocals, Jesse DeGizzi – Bass/Vocals, Julian Primeaux – Guitar/Vocals, Gerard Delafose – Drums, Statton Doyle – Sax and Nicholas Victorian – Washboard) on tour Spring 2017 in support of his new release.
UPCOMING TOURDATES INCLUDE:
January 28, 2017 Mt. Pleasant, MI “26th Annual Night Of Louisiana”/CENTRAL MICHIGAN U-JOHN G. KULHALVI EVENTS CENTER
February 25, 2017 Cranston, RI “25th Annual Mardi Gras Ball”/RHODES ON THE PAWTUXET
May 5, 2017 Breaux Bridge, LA “Crawfish Festival”
May 25, 2017 Shreveport, LA “Mudbug Madness”
CONTACT: Karen Leipziger/KL Productions
By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Sad news was received about Buckwheat Zydeco. He passed away on September 24, 2016 from cancer. Stanley Dural, also known as Buckwheat Zydeco, will be greatly missed. To mark his passing, I am running the following article that I previously posted on this site, September 2015. Rest in peace.
As a young child growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, Stanley Dural, Jr. was said to look like the Little Rascal’s character “Buckwheat” in the Our Gang comedy series filmed during the 1930’s. This whimsical image was to stick with him his entire life as a professional musician. Drawing from his musical roots, the artist who became known as Buckwheat Zydeco,has shown that he is not afraid to move forward and reach beyond the Zydeco traditions to become a legend in American music.
Zydeco music evolved from the French speaking musicians who played at house dances who blended blues, rhythm and blues and the music of the indigenous people of southwest Louisiana. Stanley did not start out as a Zydeco artist, but he continuously worked as an organist from the late 1950’s throughout the 1960’s and well into the 1970’s. Dural concentrated on rhythm and blues, backing well known acts such as Joe Tex, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, among many others. As a mature musician in 1976, he agreed to be hired as a backing organist for Zydeco pioneer, Accordionist Clifton Chenier and his Louisiana Red Hot Band. It was the turning point in his career because it was through this professional relationship that Dural came to be, like Chenier, proficient on the piano-accordion. Stanley Dural, Jr. then recast himself as a Zydeco musician and formed his own band, Buckwheat Zydeco and debuted with One for the Road in 1979. Since then, Dural and his band have become one of the most renowned Blues and Zydeco acts. Buckwheat Zydeco is distinguished as being among the few Zydeco artists to find mainstream success in the music industry and he is the only accordionist of any genre to ever reach that level of recognition in recent times in America.
Throughout three decades, Buckwheat Zydeco has performed and toured extensively around the world. They have also performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics closing ceremonies, and for both of President Clinton’s inaugurations. Buckwheat Zydeco has performed and recorded with major names in the business such as Eric Clapton, Bono and U2, The Boston Pops Orchestra, Paul Simon, Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Ry Cooder and Los Lobos. The band has also appeared on television numerous times and was chosen by Jimmy Fallon for his final show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They have appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, The Today Show, MTV, BET, CNN and have been featured on news programs on NBC, CBS and National Public Radio. Buckwheat Zydeco has appeared numerous times at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as the Chicago Blues Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival and countless major music festivals and venues across America.
Nominated several times for the Grammy Award, Buckwheat Zydeco won for ‘Best Zydeco or Cajun Album” for Lay Your Burden Down in 2010. They also received an Emmy for music performed in the CBS television movie Pistol Pete: The Life and Times of Pete Maravich. The music of Buckwheat Zydeco has been featured in the movies, The Waterboy, Fletch Lives, Hard Target, Ya La Tengo and Bob Dylan’s I’m Not There. The band also made an appearance and performed in The Big Easy, a movie that is credited with revitalizing Zydeco and Cajun music in America. Buckwheat Zydeco’s version of the classic “Cryin’ in the Streets” is featured on the album for Hurricane Katrina, Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast.
Because of his commitment to promoting Louisiana cuisine, Dural wrote and performed the theme music for the PBS television series, Pierre Franey’s Cooking in America. Out of that interest, in 2014, Dural and his long time manager and collaborator, Ted Fox, premiered the You Tube documentary series “Buckwheat’s World”. The online show focuses on the music and colorful lifestyle of the artist, Stanley Dural, Jr. who became known as Buckwheat Zydeco. Dural and Fox have shown their skill as writers and commentarians by becoming bloggers for The Huffington Post in 2014, with their first post, “Mardi Gras Is The Flip Side of the Blues”.
John Mayall had no goal other than “to make a normal blues album” , which is what the veteran artist and bandleader has done over the course of his 51-year recording career. And if you start adding it up, after 50 years, it’s obviously quite a career.” Mayall recorded “A Special Life,” his first release in five years for Forty Below Records, during a three-day session with his band during November at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood. It features four originals — one written by band members Greg Rzab and Rocky Athas — plus covers of songs by Jimmy Rogers, Albert King, Sonny Landreth and others. Mayall’s band is also bolstered by accordionist C.J. Chenier on several tracks, including a version of his father Clifton Chenier’s “Why Did You Go Last Night” that kicks off the album. “That was one of the songs I’ve always had a fondness for,” Mayall says. “In fact, we used to play it when Jack Bruce was in the band, so it goes that far back, and it’s far less Zydeco than straightahead blues. I thought it was a perfect time to approach C.J.; his father wrote and sang the song originally, and he was available, so I just contacted him. I hadn’t met him before, but he flew in for the day and we nailed it. It was a really great experience.”
C.J. Chenier grew up in the 1960s, in the housing projects of his native Port Arthur, Texas, where he was aware of, but not exposed to his father’s music as a young child.
Upon first listening to his father’s music, Chenier thought all the songs sounded the same. But he eventually began to appreciate and master his style, as he later joined and then took over his father’s band and career. He has since played such venues as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, San Diego’s Street Scene and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Paul Simon first heard Chenier in 1990, and featured him on the The Rhythm of the Saints album, and that year’s ‘Born At The Right Time’ tour. In 1992 Chenier played accordion on “Cajun Song”, a track on the Gin Blossoms‘ album, New Miserable Experience. 1992 saw Chenier featured with the Red Hot Louisiana Band on the PBS music television program Austin City Limits. By October 1994 Chenier was signed by Alligator. His debut release there was Too Much Fun, named the next year as best zydeco album of 1995 by Living Blues magazine. In 1995, Chenier gained his widest audience to date with television appearances on the Jon Stewart Show and CNN. His 1996 appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was featured in a segment by the VH1cable music television network, as well as by Entertainment Weekly. Chenier and the band also appeared that year at the Austin, Texas, 1996 SxSW Music Conference, a special event for Alligator Records’ 25th anniversary. Chenier won the 1997 Living Blues’ Critics’ Poll Award and also an AFIM Indie Award for best zydeco album, for his next release, The Big Squeeze. In 2001, Chenier played in front of 60,000 fans at the Chicago Blues Festival.
Professional accordionist and multi-instrumentalist, Jeff Taylor, grew up in Batavia, New York, and began playing accordion and keyboards in his dad’s band when he was 10. He studied classical piano at the Eastman School of Music and was leader of a small jazz/rock group when he was in the Air Force in Ohio. He has lived in Nashville since 1990. Taylor counts among his performing highlights his two years as bandleader at the Ryman auditorium for the musical production Always, Patsy Cline, hundreds of shows as bandleader at Opryland theme park and on the General Jackson showboat, The Skaggs Family Christmas Tour, and many appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, backing numerous artists. He has recorded with Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Harry Connick Jr., Keith and Kristyn Getty, Amy Grant, George Strait, The Chieftains, Martina McBride, Buddy Greene, Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs. He was a featured artist on the Ricky Skagg’s and Kentucky Thunder Instrumentals CD that won a Grammy in 2007 for Best Bluegrass Album. Besides excelling on accordion and piano, he also shines on the concertina, penny whistle, mandolin and bouzouki.
Jeff Taylor performs as a member of The Time Jumpers, along with Vince Gill and also some of the best musicians in Nashville. The Time Jumpers are an award winning Western Swing band from Nashville, Tennessee, with two awards from the Association of Western Artists, one from the Western Music Association and two Grammy nominations! This group of Nashville’s studio elite has evolved from casual jam sessions at the Grand Ole Opry to performing on the main stage, and becoming THE Monday night destination in Nashville,.
Their individual recording and performing credits cover virtually the entire history of country music, ranging from Slim Whitman to Carrie Underwood, and their members have recorded extensively with artists in other genres as well, from Barbra Streisand to Megadeth. The Time Jumpers appear, regularily, at The Station Inn, Nashville, Tennessee.
Jeff Taylor, performs on the accordion, along with the great Vince Gill and The Time Jumpers
Jeff Taylor, Accordionist, with the late Dawn Sears at the Station Inn
By Christa T. for Accordion Americana In the world of entertainment, the word “play” has been used, forever. As athletic games are played on fields and in arenas, music is similarly played on a live stage or in a recording studio. The indefatigable Accordionist, Aaron Hurwitz, known as ‘Professor Louie’, has participated in the game for a long time, as a multi-instrumentalist, a seasoned live performer and, behind the scenes, as a sought after session musician, recording engineer and producer. What a rare, “five tool player” is to baseball, Professor Louie is to the music business.
Born in Peekskill, New York, Hurwitz began his career with The Mighty Gospel Giants of Brooklyn, touring and performing across the U.S. Gospel music was a training ground for some of the giants in Gospel, Motown, Soul, R & B and Pop music with many great musicians coming out of the churches such as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and Al Green. “Gospel music always intrigued me as a kid. I would listen to it on the radio and hear these groups that just sounded great, and the feeling was great, and I realized it was basically rock ‘n roll. I mean, when you hear gospel music, especially the groups of gospel music, it sounds like blues, and it sounds like rock ‘n roll” Playing back up for the group and living out of a suitcase was life altering for the young musician. It was illuminating for him to observe the gospel group performing at “very classy gospel shows, and then… some were just in the middle of a field someplace.”
In the 1970’s, music was thrown a curve ball in the form of Disco. “I really wasn’t into playing that kind of music. And that was the only way to get work at the time, was playing disco. Being a keyboard player, I was more into working in a studio (at that time), and so I started hanging out in the New York City recording studios as an assistant engineer and doing session work, playing keyboards on some records. I’d pretty much had it with doing live music at that point. So I started going to Atlantic records a lot, and I worked with some great people, It was also another source of income, because, you know, as a player, a lot of times things slow down, and financially you’d have to take other jobs. I drove a cab in New York for a while or I’d work for a roofing company or a car wash. I had maybe 15 or 20 jobs like that. So I learned to engineer fairly well, and was able to get hired by well-known producers like Eddie Kramer and John Simon as their engineer. So I was producing records and engineering and playing on them, as opposed to only playing in live places, and I became more than just a session player.”
By the 1980’s, Hurwitz was able to leave the odd jobs behind and work as a fully employed member of the music industry. “When I got with The Band in ’85, there was never a lack of great keyboard players, so there was never a lack of great musicianship, but what there was a lack of, especially in the mid-80s was technical people, who could engineer and produce. I started getting hired by a lot of musicians to help produce records and play on them and engineer”.
It was during his time with The Band that the name and persona, ‘Professor Louie’ was invented. Rick Danko, vocalist and bassist for The Band was “actually the one who gave me the name Professor Louie, because that’s my middle name and a lot of The Band guys used their middle names…you know Levon Helm’s middle name is Levon and Garth Hudson’s middle name is Garth. What happens is all through history, keyboard players have been given monikers, like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Professor Longhair, Doctor Lonnie Smith” …While performing as a duo with Rick Danko on stage,”Rick would start calling me Professor Louie, and it was really a great honor. Most people, especially those on the business end, knew me as Professor Louie. So I kept it”. Professor Louie remembers that, “my experience working for The Band was great, and a great lesson in learning the music business and the music of that time…The Band was really the source of Americana music. They were actually one of the first groups to be classified as Americana”.
In addition to his friendship with Rick Danko, one of the critical relationships in Professor Louie’s professional career was that of Garth Hudson, accordionist and keyboardist for The Band.”I got more into the accordion of course after hanging out with Garth Hudson. The one thing that always appealed to me about the accordion is that nobody was playing that much rock ‘n roll on it and blues; it’s always been more of a traditional, ethnic or classical instrument”. But Garth Hudson was, perhaps, the only musician at that time, to focus on the accordion as an instrument that could play rock ‘n roll, blues, and gospel infused country music. He was, after all, Bob Dylan‘s accordion player.
About the accordion, Professor Louie observes, “America isn’t really associated with accordion music, because most accordion music that came here came from someplace else. I mean, New Orleans has authentic accordion music, but a lot of it is sometimes associated with music from France, or Cajun music or Arcadian.” One of the advantages that the accordion has that other keyboard instruments don’t have is portability. “A lot of times when you’re out and people are playing acoustic guitars and sometimes there’s no piano, I mean, you can always bring a little synthesizer or small portable electric piano, but the accordion is more of an authentic acoustic instrument so I found that it blended in better.”
The Band produced three final albums in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Professor Louie co-produced, engineered and performed with The Band on Jericho, High on the Hog, and Jubilation. Professor Louie and his backing band, The Crowmatix, were also featured musicians on Rick Danko’s album, Times Like These, before Rick’s death and they also performed on Garth Hudson’s solo album, The Sea to the North in 2001.
Since that time, Professor Louie and The Crowmatix have tirelessly toured throughout the world. The group features Marie Spinosa of Brooklyn, N.Y, or “Miss Marie”, a powerful vocalist, songwriter, pianist and percussionist. Also, Grammy Award winning Gary Burke, who was the drummer for Bob Dylan, Graham Parker and many other groups. He performed on over a dozen albums with Joe Jackson, and was a drummer for The Radio City Music Hall Orchestra for four years. Frank Campbell, bassist for The Crowmatix, played bass for the Rick Danko and Levon Helm tours, and was based for many years in Austin, Texas. He moved to Woodstock, N.Y, which is now home base for Professor Louie, as well. Josh Colow, from Woodstock, N.Y. is an in demand rhythm and blues guitarist. He toured with his own groups, Jesse Winchester, as well as other renowned musicians.
About Woodstock, Professor Louie says, “being in an area like the Woodstock area, where there’s so many musicians who live here, everybody has a little bit of a common cause, it’s sort of like living in a big college campus. I think by everybody being in a place, with a lot of people doing the same creative type of work helps, and also the Woodstock area has been great for recording studios. There are a lot of people coming in and out recording. And that’s what separates this area as opposed to some other music areas, is that sometimes people will travel to record here. You can meet people from other places, and Woodstock also has a good film festival, so there’s a lot of creative energy in general and always has been. For hundreds of years, that’s why people have come here”.
The latest offering by Professor Louie and The Cromatix is “Music from Hurley Mountain“. The album opens with “Golden Morning,” and closes with “Goodnight, Hurley,” In between, it tells the story, in four chapters, about Ulster County, located in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, from its initial settlement until its eventual home to a unique group of musicians who have made it the epicenter of their lives.
The John and Anna Kaufman farm and barn, just across from Hurley Mountain, is one of four original farms in the area. It became the site of the recording studio that would become central to The Cromatix and to other musicians and sound people, local and legendary, that would make their way to Hurley Mountain to record. The studio has been in existence for thirty years and is now known as the Rock and Roll Barn. Professor Louie explains, “John (Kaufman) chugged on by many a day” in his classic John Deere tractor while Louie was recording. One day Louie finally put the microphone out the window. He commemorates that moment and the family in “John’s Tractor” with the use of the ambient sound of the Kaufman’s tractor from long ago. They further honor the site with the straight up rock ‘n’ roll celebration, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Barn“. “Crop Dustin’ Blues” evokes an old Animals vibe and addresses a long environmentally challenging practice still used to this day. Professor Louie and his ensemble, The Cromatix, move in a traditionalist direction with acoustic instrumentation used extensively in tunes such as the sweet and sentimental “Family Reunion”, “Four Farmers” and the swampy “You Got Me Dizzy“, composed by Mississippi bluesman, Jimmy Reed. Louie features the accordion throughout the album, most prominently on the opening and closing compositions.
Professor Louie shares lead vocals with Miss Marie in most of the album’s songs, including “Light In Your Eyes”, a beautiful, soulful ballad performed in the tradition of the nineteen fifties and sixties. Other personnel featured on Music From Hurley Mountain consists of drummer Gary Burke, guitarist/vocalist John Platania, bassist/vocalist Frank Campbell, lead guitarist Josh Colow and violinist Larry Packer.
Web address www.professorlouie.com
(All quotes from an interview, “Aaron Hurwitz aka Professor Louie and the Crowmatix” by Monica Sirignano and Dave Bower for The Free George Magazine. Thank you to Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz and Graham Clarke for additional information regarding “Music From Hurley Mountain”. )