C.J. Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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C.J. Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band

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Son of Clifton Chenier, the late great king of zydeco, Clayton Joseph Chenier joined his dad's Red Hot Louisiana Band in 1978 as a sax player but took over as bandleader and accordionist after he died in 1987. Some say C.J. isn't quite the squeeze-box star his Grammy-winning pop was, but the burly roots-music Renaissance man has succeeded on his own terms, blending the music his father made famous with elements of funk, R & B, rock, and jazz and playing the resulting gumbo at breakneck tempos. His most recent release, Step It Up! (Alligator, 2001), also includes more traditional zydeco tunes as well as some original ballads (to permit the dancers to catch their breath and C.J. to show off his formidable vocal chops). C.J. and the band do their best to uphold Clifton's standards of showmanship, so expect guitar-behind-the-neck antics, flamboyant costumes, and bravura turns on the rhythm instrument Clifton and his brother Cleveland invented back in the day, a wearable washboard called the frottoir. Friday and Saturday, January 9 and 10, 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Natkin.

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