Posted: January 7, 2017 Filed under: Next Wave | Tags: accordion, accordion americana, american, American Accordion, americana, band, blues, Corey Ledet, French, Houston, keys, New Orleans, pop, professional, scene, Texas, zydeco, Zydeco Band
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.
CONTACT: Karen Leipziger/KL Productions
Posted: October 28, 2014 Filed under: Luminaries | Tags: accordion, accordion american, american, americana, band, blues, california, Canadian, country, hudson, music, pop, rock, rock & roll, roots, the band
Garth Hudson (Photo by Barrie Wenzel)
By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Garth Hudson and members of The Band were contemporaries of both Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan and came of age during a magical era in American music. Tired of war and depleted of creative energy, America, after World War II became highly focused on regenerating and moving forward. It was a time of reinvention and rebirth. This new direction was expressed in a type of music that was blues infused, with strong hints of gospel and rooted in rural America. It was, at times, biting, raw and edgy. Garth Hudson, along with The Band, Elvis, Dylan and others, represented the first wave of Post World War musicians and songwriters who produced music deeply etched in the Americana musical memory, and music that will endure long after the magic fades.
Garth Hudson was born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1937. When he was three years old, the Hudson family moved to London, Ontario. His father was an entomologist, and an inspector for the Canadian government. Because he had a strong interest in science when he was young, Garth thought he would work, as his father had, as an agricultural researcher. However, his father was also a musician, and his mother played the accordion and the piano, and even his uncles were in a band. So, it was their family’s tradition that Garth would begin to study music while still quite young. After he had acquired a knowledge base of classical piano and music theory, Garth began to study the accordion as well as other instruments, and majored in music at Western Ontario University. His primary instruments were piano, organ, accordion, and tenor and soprano saxophones.
Any ambition as a classical musician never materialized because Garth always had trouble with memorization. He also didn’t like to practice, so he leaned heavily on improvisation, developing his own method of playing by ear. Garth saw music in shapes and forms, and was encouraged to do so by his high school music teacher, who had a band and asked him to transcribe scores for him. While in school, in 1952, Garth formed his first band, The Three Blisters. The next year, the group called themselves The Four Quarters, with Garth on the accordion. From that experience, another group evolved. He said, “We called ourselves the Silhouettes.We played some shows around town, and then I left with some of those people and went to the Windsor/Detroit area.We hooked up with a young singer, Paul London and the Capers.We worked with Armand Balladian, a promotion man who worked with music distributors and merchants and also promoted records to disc jockeys in the Detroit area. We had two records he promoted, and one was number eight on the local listing. We did teen hops and various other things.” With the Capers, Garth played the organ and saxophone. There were groups in Detroit that used the organ. “I remember going to the store and trying (a Lowry organ) out and it had certain things that the Hammond wouldn’t do. We bought a Lowry organ,which nobody else was using” From his use of the Lowry organ, Hudson began to develop a unique, gospel style sound, and a very different technique of playing the instrument.
In 1961 Garth Hudson joined an Arkansas rockabilly group, Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. Hawkins’ band had deserted him, choosing not to relocate with him to Ontario from the States. Levon Helm, also from Arkansas, decided to remain as the drummer for the group. Vacancies were filled by Canadians, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel. When Garth Hudson joined the Hawks, he played the saxophone and Hawkins paid him an extra ten dollars per week to teach the other band members to read and write music. By 1963, The Hawks had split from Hawkins, and tried to change the band’s name to Levon and the Hawks, then The Canadian Squires. Eventually, they returned to the name, The Hawks.
In 1966,The Hawks were introduced to Bob Dylan who recruited them to accompany him on a tour of Europe. At the conclusion of the long tour, the band remained on a salary paid by Dylan, and bought and lived in a pink house near Woodstock, N.Y. At that time, Dylan chose to drop out of public life, and began writing and recording with The Hawks. Recording sessions were sold by bootleggers, and many of the recordings were released, later on as The Basement Tapes. The Hawks became known as The Band and continued to record with Bob Dylan throughout the tumultuous late 1960’s, as the Viet Nam War raged and Dylan went electric. The Band released their debut album, Music From Big Pink, in 1968. It was their association with Woodstock, N.Y. and also the fact that Bob Dylan was set to headline that event, that the geographic location was chosen for the site of the festival that would rock the world.
By the 1970’s, the Viet Nam War came to an end and The Band felt a need to go their separate ways. The event was documented by Martin Scorsese in The Last Waltz, filmed in 1976. It marked the end of an era. Garth Hudson spent the next 16 years living and working in California on film soundtracks and participating in the music scene. In 1978, a fire leveled his home that he shared with his wife, Maud, and the misfortune had a profound impact on them. Eventually, in 1991, the couple moved from California to the same area of New York State where he had resided during the Big Pink era. Garth recorded three more albums with The Band in the early 1990’s. Sadly, of the original five members of The Band, only two are living: Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson.
Today,Garth is heavily engrossed in experimental forms of music, and released an album entitled, The Sea to the North. Constantly working, Garth Hudson is a much in-demand and respected session musician, recording and performing with a diverse collection of artists, and amassing an enormous catalog of work. In much of that work, he has involved the accordion. Garth Hudson produces, composes, arranges, records and performs with his wife and his eleven piece orchestra and teaches master classes, when time permits. “I don’t care if I never play for a Jazz audience.” He says,”the people I am concerned about approaching are out there, in middle America.”
“You must, after the age of 33, continue to do a certain type of work or else go into the shoe business, forget music or it will turn into hatred, or else reiteration, redundancy and in many cases, death.You have to find a type of work that you make yourself do that is not drug inspired.” Garth Hudson
Garth Hudson quotes from The Woodstock Times, Vol. 14, no. 13, March 28, 1985.
by Ruth Albert Spencer
Posted: September 3, 2014 Filed under: Next Wave | Tags: accordion, accordion american, american, americana, Brave Combo, country, David Byrne, Ginny Mac, music, polka, pop, rock, usa
Photo by Ed Steele
By Christa T. for Accordion Americana I have been playing the accordion for years, and now I am writing about the accordion. I have been listening to those musicians who currently perform as professional accordionists and I am trying to foresee how the accordion will be played in the future and envision who is going to make this instrument important, again. I have not found any accordionist yet who, I believe, may hold the future of the accordion in his or her hands, until I heard Ginny Mac.
Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, Ginny Mac is a former member of the two-time Grammy Award winning group named Brave Combo, based in Denton, TX. Brave Combo has been noted for its rabid cult following across the country, a notable fan being David Byrne, who chose them as his wedding band. It was a good vehicle for Ginny Mac to begin her professional career in 2011 because, as Paste Magazine noted, “Brave Combo, is…eclectic and artistically ambitious, with a high degree of musicianship and a strong DIY ethic.” Since 2013, she has performed with her own band, and divides her time between Los Angeles and Texas.
Unlike some bands that feature a keyboard player who may whisper a few well placed right hand chords but never goes near the bass keyboard of the accordion, Ginny Mac is all over the entire instrument. She is unafraid and unapologetic of the fact that she is an excellent musician and a dynamic entertainer. In recent memory, it’s unusual to see an accordionist play while singing solo, and to do both, well at the same time. Ginny Mac combines both voice and instrument, masterfully, with each complementing and supporting the other. She has a beautiful, sultry voice that lends itself well to the songs that she chooses to perform. In spite of the enormity of her accordion on her small frame, a seriously full sized Scandalli, Ginny Mac is seasoned, comfortable and confident on stage. For her range of proficiency and performance, a smaller accordion would likely be inadequate.
When she is not busy with an active touring schedule, Ginny is writing and arranging new original music for an upcoming album and collaborating on multiple musical projects. With a repertoire that covers vintage country,(‘I Fall to Pieces’) Orbison, (‘ Blue Bayou’) Texas Swing, Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Parisian style accordion and everything in between, it’s taken for granted that Ginny can play and sing anything.
Ginny Mac has recorded four albums; the newest released in Spring 2014, “On The Street Where You Live,” is a collection of classic tunes and originals, featuring many of her friends and greatest musical influences. The project includes Grammy Award winners Woody Paul and Joey Miskulin (Riders In The Sky), legendary Nashville fiddler Buddy Spicher, the great bassist Bob Moore (Roy Orbison), and several of Nashville’s premier musicians. “It was an unforgettable experience,” she says, “I was fortunate to learn so much and make music with these wonderful people.”When she is not busy with an active touring schedule, Ginny is writing and arranging new original music for an upcoming album and collaborating on multiple musical projects. Lately, she is concentrating on the music of Queen and her hero, Freddie Mercury, who inspired her to perform (and also to refuse to have her own overbite corrected).
While it’s easy to see the accordion’s place and performance in history, it’s more difficult to determine what the future holds for the accordion in popular American music. Will it grow in popularity as an acoustic instrument, or evolve into a futuristic instrument with a totally different sound, or just fade away? I believe that it is a brand new day for the accordion in American music. In my search, I have found that the accordion is more present than ever in the “people’s music” in America, Country, Pop, Rock & Roll, Jazz, Alternative, and all kinds of ethnic music and even circus music. Ginny Mac is performing in many of these genres. Whatever direction she decides to take the accordion, or not at all, that is the way the future of the accordion will go, as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her evolve as an entertainer and also seeing the accordion accompany her on her journey.
Posted: August 11, 2014 Filed under: Next Wave | Tags: accordion, accordion american, alternative, american, americana, blues, fortunate few, garniez, new york city, pop, rachelle, world music
Bio by rachellegarniezcom.virb.com
Native New Yorker Rachelle Garniez has been described as “a certified free spirit” (The New Yorker) and a “diva with a difference”(Billboard Magazine).
She has produced and released 5 cds on her own label, Real Cool Records, as well as a vinyl single produced by Jack White on his label, Third Man Records. KinderAngst, a collection of punk rock children’s songs, co-written and co-produced by Palmyra Delran, featuring Debby Harry. Most recently, a compilation album of songs chosen from her catalog of recordings has been released by JARO Records.
In the 1980’s she began busking in parks and subways and performing in clubs, galleries and bars; playing solo and in a wide variety of bands ranging from bar-band roots to club-kid art-funk; samba fierce-showgirl revue to klezmer and old-time jazz, each of which have contributed significantly to her writing style.
Rachelle’s songs have been recorded by Catherine Russell, Karen Elson, and The Flying Neutrinos and can be heard on television soundtracks including the Chris Isaac Show, Real Sex, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, and Sex and the City.
She has performed several times at the TED conference as a featured member of Thomas Dolby’s house band both in Monterey California and in Oxford, UK.
Since spring of 2013, Rachelle has been a member of the acclaimed Roots-World band Hazmat Modine. She continues to collaborate perform and record with diverse artists including violinist Jenny Scheinman, sonic wizard Sxip Shirey, neo-soul-jazz guitarist Marvin Sewell, glam cabaret troupe The Citizens Band, choreographer Keely Garfied. family music superstar Dan Zanes, and legendary garage band The Friggs.
Over the years, Rachelle has been commissioned to compose music for theater. In 2009 she composed the music for Taylor Mac’s Obie Award winning epic theater piece “The Lily’s Revenge”, which premiered at HERE Arts Center in NYC and was most recently presented by American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. That same year, The Franklin Stage Company located in Delaware County, NY commissioned and premiered the original musical “American Fairy Tales”, based on little-known stories by L. Frank Baum, for which she wrote all of the songs and music and was cast as the principal character. She has composed and performed music for NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing’s productions of The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet, and wrote songs for the award-winning Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children’s Theaters’ production of Purim Spiel. For many years, she served as Musical Director of The Citizens Band, as well as writing and performing many of the troupe’s signature anthems.
More about Rachelle Garniez: