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Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band



Corey Ledet


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.”


Corey Ledet

“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:

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


Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

Ami Saraiya II

Ami Saraiya

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana It has long been a challenge to bring the piano accordion to a new generation of Americans. But, by using the instrument more and more, Alternative musicians, or artists who write and perform outside of the present musical mainstream, are giving the accordion  a lot of exposure.  Artists such as Ami Saraiya and her band, The Outcome, are examples of this growing trend of young musicians who seek different ways to express their own unique style in a new age.

The piano accordion is” like having a symphony in your hands” Ami Saraiya says. “I picked it up and I was in love. It’s very rhythmic, and since I grew up playing piano, it came very easy.”  Trained as a classical pianist, Ami was a former music major at Indiana University. “I started playing piano when I was 5, and when I was growing up I was always singing and in choir….but the classical world was not for me. I joined a band when I was 19 and found my niche.”” Ami was the lead vocalist of pop collective Radiant Darling and R&B band Pelvic Delta, and has toured locally and regionally throughout the U.S.

Ami Saraiya

Ami Saraiya

Coming out of the Chicago music scene, the songs of Ami Saraiya reveal a distinct part of that American urban aesthetic, and reveal to us how she experiences her world. With original songwriting and instrumentation, Ami interprets it through a wide range of instruments.  Along with her voice, she performs with  the accordion, guitar, violin,  and xylophone and other instruments, as well. Whether with the roar of any Pop icon or the soft and sultry style of a chanteuse, her live performance is captivating. Amy Saraiya always sings and writes with  deep conviction, while she totally “shreds” on the accordion.

As a songwriter, “I create what I feel. I start with an idea and do lots of work out from there, but it’s just raw perspective — I’m not trying to create something in particular. What I do comes from the heart, and the hard work comes in finishing what you started. Ideas come and they aren’t always understandable, but I manage to find some transcendence.”

 Ami Saraiya and The Outcome received excellent reviews with Saraiya’s first album under her own name entitled, “Archeologist” in 2009. She followed up with an EP entitled “Purging” which critics thought dark, “surrealistic” and “the best tracks she’s ever produced”(Joseph Montes, Loud Loup Press). With her second album, released in 2012, “Soundproof Box,” the singer/songwriter/bandleader “showcases the performer’s creative energy and intensity….vintage cabaret sound is drama in bold relief, swinging from playful to maudlin in a single measure.” (Jessica Hopper, The Chicago Tribune).


The Outcome, including Marc Piane (upright bass), Ronnie Kuller (violin), Gary Kalar, (electric guitar), Shirley Caen Rogiers (vocals), and Courtney Glascoe (vocals).

Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

Ami Saraiya & The Outcome

Danny Federici, Founding Member of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band


Federici with accordion

Danny Federici

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Danny Federici was never one to try to steal the spotlight. It was not in his character. But, though sweet-natured and shy, his presence was always felt by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and by their fans. After over 40 years The E Street Band was inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Although he had been with Springsteen throughout every evolution of the band, sadly, Danny Federici didn’t live to experience his own well-earned moment in the spotlight.

Born in Flemington, New Jersey in 1950, Danny Federici’s first instrument was the accordion and from the age of seven, his mother often booked him at events, parties, and on the radio. He eventually won the early television talent program, “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour” at a very young age. Danny recalled, “I had quite a little accordion career going on, before I even got involved in rock ‘n’ roll…..” It was the 1960’s and there wasn’t any path into the world of rock ‘n roll for an accordionist.  E Street band mate Nils Lofgren was a witness to this and remembers in a 2015 interview, “Well, I spent 8 years on the South side of Chicago where I was born. When I was five, every kid played accordion. I asked to take lessons and I did. After the waltzes and polkas you moved into classical or jazz. My teacher sent me into classical accordion….. I fell in love with the Beatles and the Stones and through them, I discovered the British invasion, the American counterpart of the great rock bands of the 60’s….” Nils eventually became a guitarist. Unlike only a decade earlier, an accordionist had to move on and study other instruments to be accepted within rock ‘n roll. There were no role models and few music publications supported a rock ‘n roll repertoire for accordion. Danny Federici adapted to this drastic change and chose to continue his music career by mastering piano and the Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards favored in the Blues, Jazz and in Rock ‘n Roll music.

Danny with accordion III

Danny Federici with accordion (early 1970’s)

Danny graduated from Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey where, in 1968, along with classmate Vinnie “Mad Dog” Lopez and an unknown Bruce Springsteen, he started a band called Child. Out of Child evolved the group Steel Mill, then Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom which then became The Bruce Springsteen Band. Finally, around the time of the release of their first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. in 1972-73, they took the name Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The band memorialized E Street in their name because David Sancious’ mother allowed them to practice at the family home located on that street.

Springsteen-The-E-Street-Band-1973(Bruce Springsteen and the band that would eventually be called The E Street Band in the earliest days: L to R: the late Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, David Sancious, Vinnie “Mad Dog” Lopez, Danny Federici, and Garry Tallent, c.1972)

Springsteen was determined to build their reputation on live performance. His career breakthrough came when Rock Critic Jon Landau, observed Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at a small venue in 1974. What Landau wrote and published in The Real Paper, according to David Remnick, (July 30, 2012 issue of Profiles) “is considered to be the most important review in Rock Music history”. Landau writes,”Last Thursday, at the Harvard Theatre, I saw my rock ‘n roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock ‘n roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was feeling music for the first time…. He is a rock ‘n roll punk, a Latin street dancer, a ballet dancer, an actor, a joker, bar band leader, hot-shot rhythm guitar player, extraordinary singer and a truly great rock ‘n roll composer. He leads a band like he’s been doing it forever…..He parades in front of his all-star rhythm band like a cross between Chuck Berry, early Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando.From that time, the future for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band changed dramatically. The years that followed  brought great success that garnered best selling albums with hit singles and multiple Grammy Awards. After constant touring for nearly two decades,  the band took a much needed hiatus. Throughout the 1990’s, Springsteen and the E Street Band members worked on other projects.

Danny recorded and performed with Arizona-based band, Diamondback and co wrote many of the tracks on the album Ragin’ Wind with lead singer, Franklin Jenkins. He also recorded a solo jazz album called Flemington, named after his home town. It was re-released under the Music Masters Jazz label in 1997. Danny followed up with a self released album of Jazz in 2004, Sweet, which was re-issued as Out of a Dream in 2005 on V2 Records. Federici performed on other artists recordings during the hiatus, including Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker, Gary U.S. Bonds and Garland Jeffreys. Danny remained with Bruce Springsteen throughout the duration of the E Street Band performing for the last time just three weeks before his death in 2008 from Melanoma.

Springsteen described Danny Federici as “the most instinctive and natural musician I ever met” and told him, “Your organ and accordion playing brought the boardwalks of Central and South Jersey alive in my music…” and also acknowledged that “Danny is one of the pillars of our sound and has played beside me as a great friend for more than 40 years.”

Federici and Springsteen

Danny Federici with Bruce Springsteen 2008

Jason Federici, one of Danny’s three children writes: “Since my father’s death, my family and I created a foundation dedicated to raising funds for melanoma research, The Danny Fund. Today, we are honored for the foundation we built to be a program of the Melanoma Research Alliance. Together, we are working to fund the most promising melanoma research worldwide that is hastening the discovery of better treatments and hopefully, a cure. Your participation today will directly support a young investigator whose ambitious and innovative research often spearheads groundbreaking scientific developments.”

Federici with piano

Daniel Paul Federici 1950-2008

List of Bands that Feature the Accordion

Punk’s 10 Best Accordion Players: A Tribute to accordion Rockers
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM (PST) by connor_maoil

The sound of the accordion is, in my opinion, one of the best, weirdest, and most unique additions to the punk genre. For most it’s easy to see the instrument as nothing more than a novelty but the truth is there are a lot of very talented musicians whose squeezebox skills can’t be overlooked as a gimmick. As an aspiring punk rock accordionist myself, I wanted to spotlight some of the best in the field.

Check out the list here.

10. (Honorary mention): Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello)

Things might have ended up differently for the gypsy troubadour Eugene Hutz if he stuck with his attempt at learning the accordion. In a video interview, Hutz jokes about the difficulties he had trying to learn the instrument:

“Learning the accordion was just impossible. Have you ever tried an accordion? It’s insane. It’s f*cking nuts man, it’s like, to play accordion you must have your brain wired differently. I worship people who can play accordion. I tried for 2 years and ended up withminor scoliosis and, anxiety problem. And that’s when I picked up [guitar].

9. Eric Melvin (NOFX)

While the accordion is rarely up front in the ranks of NOFX, founding guitarist Eric Melvin busts out his giant squeezebox to time to time to please the crowds. Wailing minor waltzes about sleepless nights, Melvin really puts a lot of character into the instrument

I, Melvin

8. Katie McConnell (The Mahones)

I’ve gotta admit that I’ve had a crush on this punk for a long time. McConnell really does a great job of bringing the punk style and hardcore energy to the accordion. Her style of playing seems to draw a good deal of inspiration from The Pogues (above). Seeing any performance by her with The Mahones is an awesome experience that I highly recommend to any lover of celtic punk. Watch for them in your town!

“A Great Night On The Lash” (from “The Black Irish,” 2011, True North Records)

7. Marc Orrell (Dropkick Murphys, 2000-2008)

He’s the one who brought you Shipping Up To Boston. Enough said?

6. Tim Brennan (Dropkick Murphys, 2003-present)

The current recording and touring multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan has continued to make the accordion a more part of the band’s staple sound.

The Hardest Mile (off 2011′s Going Out In Style)

5. James Fearnley (The Pogues)

One of the pioneers of the punk accordion, James Fearnley, the original and current member of The Pogues, was originally a guitar player. According to Fearnley’s memoir, “Here Comes Everybody: The Story Of The Pogues,” founding banjo member Jem Finer, desperately seeking an accordion for his new band, showed up at Fearnley’s flat with an accordion in a laundry bag and persuaded him to try and learn the instrument.

“Turkish Song Of The Damned“ (from “If I Should Fall From Grace Of God,” 1988, Island Records)

4. Seamus O’Flanahan (The Dreadnoughts)

I’ll just let Seamus speak for himself. (Off “Polka’s Not Dead”, 2010)

3. Matt Hensley (Flogging Molly)

Hensley, a former skateboarder, picked up accordion from guitar like so many others on this list. In addition to skillfully adding to the work of Flogging Molly with his accordion, Hensley is also frequently featured on the concertina and more traditional Irish diatonic button accordion. That’s the kind of thing that tends to really impress the geeky accordion junkies.

“Tomorrow Comes A Day Too Soon” (from “Within A Mile Of Home,” 2004, SideOneDummy)

2. Yuri Lemeshev (Gogol Bordello)

Although not a founding member of the New York gypsy punk band, Yuri Lemeshev has been a vital part of the band for over a decade. Hailing from Russia, Lemeshev has to be one of the most technically skilled members of the scene. And not only can he knock down tunes masterfully, he can also move around and have a good ol’ punk time on stage while doing it.

“Supertheory Of Supereverything” (from “Super Taranta!”, 2007, SidOneDummy)

1. Franz Nicolay (World/Inferno Friendship Society)

In addition to that moustache, Franz Nicolay brings in the background of a converted rock piano player (most notably in The Hold Steady) and has spread the use of the accordion all over the genre. Nicolay probably has the most impressive resume of them all; in addition to being a former longtime member of the punk circus collective World/Inferno Friendship Society and his own collective Anti-Social Music, Nicolay has recorded and toured with the likes of Against Me!, Leftover Crack, The Dresden Dolls, The Loved Ones, and Mischief Brew. Check out a complete list of his recording and producer credits over here.

“Your Younger Man” (from “Red Eyed Soul,” 2006)

Had enough yet? If not, check out some up-and-coming bands featuring the accordion.

The First Chairs (ska)

Roughneck Riot (celtic punk)

Larry And His Flask (cow punk)

The Real Mckenzies (celtic punk)

Mad Caddies (ska/swing punk)

The Mighty Regis (celtic punk)

Crash Nomada (gypsy punk)

Joey Briggs (solo from The Briggs)

Ramshackle Glory (folk punk)

Feudalism (folk punk)

Lucero (cow punk)

This is a list of articles describing popular music acts that incorporate the accordion.

Band or musician Accordionist Style
Agalloch  ? Folk metal, doom metal, black metal, neofolk, post-rock
Arcade Fire Régine Chassagne
Richard Reed Parry[1]
Indie rock
The Band Garth Hudson Americana
Beirut Perrin Cloutier Combines elements of Eastern European and folk sounds
Calexico Martin Wenk Rock
Counting Crows Charlie Gillingham Rock
The Decemberists Jenny Conlee Folk rock
Deep Forest Michel Sanchez Combines electronic beats with world music
Del Amitri Andy Alston Rock
Detektivbyrån Anders Flanders Combination of electronica, folk and French pop
DeVotchKa Tom Hagerman Indie rock
The Dropkick Murphys Tim Brennan Celtic punk
The E Street Band Danny Federici
Charles Giordano
Equilibrium  ? Viking metal, folk metal, symphonic black metal
Finntroll  ? Folk metal, black metal, humppa
Flogging Molly Matt Hensley[2] Celtic punk
Folkearth  ? Viking metal, folk metal, black metal
Gogol Bordello Yuri Lemeshev Gypsy punk
Gotan Project Nini Flores Tango, Electronic
Great Big Sea Bob Hallett Traditional Newfoundland folk and rock
Green Day Tré Cool Punk rock
The Hooters Rob Hyman Rock
Jason Webley Self Combination of traditional music, romani music, punk
John Mellencamp  ? Rock. Has included the accordion in most of his music since 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee.
Julieta Venegas Self Latin pop
Jump, Little Children Matthew Bivins Combines Irish influences with an alternative rock sound
Katzenjammer  ? Pop
Korpiklaani Juho Kauppinen Folk metal
Lemon Demon Neil Cicierega Indie rock
Mägo de Oz Sergio Cisneros Folk metal, folk rock
MewithoutYou Aaron Weiss Alternative Rock
Moonsorrow Henri Sorvali Folk metal
Motion Trio (Accordion Trio) Collaborations with other artists (such as Bobby McFerrin and Michał Urbaniak)
The Pogues James Fearnley Irish punk, pub music
Skyforger  ? Folk metal, black metal
Silvestre Dangond Juancho De la Espriella Vallentos, Modern and very popular Colombian music
Sound Horizon Revo Combination of many genres, ranging from heavy metal to classical
Stolen Babies Dominique Lenore Persi Avant-garde metal
Styx Dennis DeYoung Hard rock, progressive rock
Svartsot Hans-Jørgen Martinus Hansen Folk metal, Viking metal
That Handsome Devil Jeremy Page and Andy Bauer Alternative rock, alternative hip hop
They Might Be Giants John Linnell Alternative rock
Tiger Lillies Martyn Jacques Brechtian and gypsy cabaret
Tom Waits  ? Jazz, rock, blues, folk, experimental
Tosca Tango Orchestra Glover Gil Nuevo tango, classical music
Turisas Janne Mäkinen Folk metal, Viking metal
The Twilight Sad Andy MacFarlane Scottish folk rock, indie rock
Vitas Vitas (studio), ? (live) Eclectic Russian pop
“Weird Al” Yankovic Self Parody music
Windir Valfar Folk metal, Viking metal, black metal
The World/Inferno Friendship Society Franz Nicolay[3] Cabaret punk

Jeff Taylor, Nashville’s “Go To” Accordionist

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

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


James Felice and The Felice Brothers

 James Felice
By Baron Lane,”Twang Nation”
Sometimes, rarely but sometimes, a concert can really floor you. Just surprise you in ways you had no idea you still could be. I’m glad to say this last Saturday I attended a sold out show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom that did just that. Omaha Nebraska’s McCarthy Trenching opened the show at about 8:15 belting out self-described songs of drinking, killing and horses with workmanlike diligence and little room for flourish.
26-year-old singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle then hit the stage sporting a throwback look – sequin-trimmed suit and Brylcreemed hair – to match his gloriously throwback sound. Accompanied by mandolin-banjo-harmonica player and stamp-collection enthusiast Cory Younts, Earle served up with his blend of old school honkey-tonk
(Hard Livin, Ain’t Glad I’m Leavin’) and Tennessee backwoods country (Who Am I To Say, The Ghost Of Virginia) and straight up corn-pone fun (Chitlin Cookin Time In Cheetham County, Your Biscuit’s Big Enough For Me.) All the country music history sketches that make up his new release ‘The Good Life” were on show in full force. Earle showed confidence as he stalked the stage, stomped his boots to cue chorus to bridge breaks and hoisted his acoustic guitar rifle-like Johnny Cash-style. The New York crowd whooped and hollered and the girls near the stage stood transfixed with by his rugged Southern charm. Earle left the stage with a song for his Grandpa (Absolute Angels Blues) after almost an hour and left the crowd wanting more but primed the crowd for what was to come.
The most accurate and hilarious description I’ve come across for the Felice Brothers (actually three brothers and friends) is by way of Andrew Leahey over at All Music Guide – “they’re a pack of earth-stained country boys from the wilds of the Catskill Mountains, not Ivy Leaguers who thought ransacking their parents ’60s records would a better career move than grad school.” Dead on description and doubly so live. Cards on the table, I came to the show for Justin Townes Earle and decided to hang for a few songs by these Yankee roots rockers just to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did. It appeared that many under 30-year-olds from the Felice Brothers hometown of the Hudson River Valley and the New York City area, where the Felice boys honed their craft in the subway stations, turned out to welcome them back home. Young girls in cotton dresses shouted the band members names like they had them in home room and their drunk boyfriends sang to every song at the top of their lungs like they could do it in their sleep.The Felice Brothers are often compared to a more punked-out Band, and it’s a pretty fair comparison.
Like The Band The Felice Brothers take country and roots music and turns it in on it’s history to exposes the Celtic, blues and gospel innards. Gothic Americana landscapes drenched with sepia, whiskey (on stage and in verse) and blood. Sometimes it seemed that the band was using their instruments as weapons and songs would veer just out of control just to right itself at the last minute. Tales of broken dreams and dreamers flat broke and staring down narrowing odds (the harrowing Hey Hey Revolver), sin, redemption and Dixieland salvation (Saved (Lieber-Stolle), Mercy) and salacious limo drivers (Cincinnati Queen) and straight up murder ballads that would make Nick Cave take notice (Ruby Mae.) Sometimes the whole affair seemed like a Ken Burns soundtrack mashed up with the Pogues on a particularly heavy bender. Guitarist and lead gravel-throated vocalist Ian, drummer and vocalist Simone and accordionist and bear of a man James Felice along with a guy named Christmas (bass) and Farley (fiddle and washboard) played music dank with tradition and yet crackling with passion and fire. I’ve always said that if you can fake authenticity you can do anything, but if there is any faking until they make it with this band then my well tuned bullshit detector was unable to pick up the trace.There have been some leveling of derision at the Felice Brothers for supposedly cribbing their sound to the Dyan/Band basement tapes. These jibes are usually from critics that see no problem giving a pass to the likes of the Zeppelin/Pixies plagiarism that is the White Stripes. I agree with Picasso that bad artists copy and great artists steal. The Felice Bros. are casing the joint and armed to the teeth.

The Remarkable Garth Hudson of 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