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Ink album review: Ernest James Zydeco


Ernest James Zydeco


Musicians use all sorts of tools to soup up their music: Auto-Tune. Synthesizers with countless samples. Instruments that essentially do the work for you.

But in zydeco, technology can’t compete with tradition, and a drum machine is no substitute for a washboard. The music has its foundations in Louisiana Creole and Cajun music. In the 1940s and ’50s, zydeco was fused with blues and R&B to evolve into its modern form. The accordion stays at the forefront of the music, accompanied by a dance-inducing rhythm section.

In Jubilee, Ernest James Zydeco takes the roots of zydeco and infuses them with elements of blues, jazz and reggae to create a unique sound that brings the bayou to Kansas City.

Look no further than the lead-off track, “Family First,” to get a feel for real zydeco. Ernest James opens with a rousing accordion introduction, and the rhythm section kicks in to create a stirring beat. DJ Clem’s bass doesn’t stop till the song’s end, providing a bluesy bass run that will keep listeners tapping their toes.

The album mainly revolves around lighthearted, dancey tunes like “Family First,” focusing on an accordion lead and a steady pacing rhythm from drummers Mike Meyers and Jaisson Taylor. “Down to Big Mamou” has a rapid and lively rhythm supported by James’ chugging accordion and a melodic breakdown.

Other songs have a lighter, more traditional feel. “Eh Hosephine” features Barry Barnes on washboard, a conventional zydeco percussion instrument. The washboard’s scratching effect moves subtly behind the accordion, giving the song a loungey feel. At the same time, it propels the song forward. Blues guitar riffs from James and Tony LaCroix keep songs like “My Little Josephine” and “Get Right Church” in a mellow, jazzy groove.

With exciting instrumentation and a group of talented musicians, Jubilee proves that Ernest James Zydeco can get a crowd of people to kick up their heels or kick back and relax.

infobox-hr-separator /> infobox-head>Find it
Sold at Streetside Records, Zebedee’s RPM, Prospero’s Books and It’s a Beautiful Day, all in Kansas City. You can also get the album through cdbaby.com.

See them The band plays at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pot Pie, 904 Westport Road.


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