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Buckwheat Zydeco, Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth, Saturday, October 25th, 2014, Reviewed

In Texas

In Texas

“Are you feeling alright tonight, Texas!”

Buckwheat Zydeco is the stage name for Stanley Dural, Jr., a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, who lead a funk band in the 1970s, worked as a sideman for Clifton Chenier, and formed his own zydeco outfit in 1979. He has released 21 albums, including compilations, and won a Grammy for his 2009 album Lay Your Burden Down, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos.

“Are you ready to party, Texas!”

The Buckwheat Zydeco band has a big sound with a rhythm section, two guitars, trumpet, washboard, accordion, and Hammond organ. I didn’t catch, nor can I find, the names of the band members, all of which sounded fine and none of which sounded exceptional. The group doesn’t play strictly zydeco music; there are elements of New Orleans pop music (more Fats Domino than The Meters), and of blues rock, especially in the guitar playing.

“Can I hear you say ‘YEAH!’ Texas!”

Buckwheat dressed sharply, nice crease in those pants for being on the road, smiled incessantly and almost uncomfortably, like a funeral director trying to make you feel better, and reminded the crowd about 3,000 times that we were in Texas, which I think most of us already knew. Buckwheat, who had treatment last year for early stage cancer in his left lung and a vocal cord, did more yelling of encouraging party affirmations than singing. Each song turned into long extemporaneous jams, often between Buckwheat and his washboard player. At times, the guitarists just held their instruments, instead of playing, looking somewhat like customers waiting impatiently for their turn at the salad bar.

“Are you having a good time, Texas!”

And, here’s the bottom line – nothing sounded bad, nothing sounded great and everything was too long. Their version of Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin’” lasted an excruciating eight minutes long, with the crowd sing along portion being at least four minutes and maybe one verse being sung. The fundamental problem with the show there was no emotional core to the music, you either enjoyed the extended trumpet solo or guitar solo or you didn’t. All notes, no context. Buckwheat sure looked happy though. And he knew he was in Texas.

Grade: B-

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