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Remembering Clifton

December 27, 1987

In the summer of 1986 I was moving from Houston back to California and stopped in Austin to see Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band at Antone's ("Remembering Clifton, the King of Zydeco," by Don Snowden, Dec. 20).

I hadn't heard a single song by Chenier and his band, but knew the name courtesy of Marcia Ball and Buckwheat Zydeco.

But what a show. He looked near 70 years old and just this side of death. He had to be helped on stage, and he took a seat and never said a word. You could see the pain on his face, but he still put in a healthy 30 minutes during each set.

He played the way most people breathe--no visible effort, it was just there. Red hot blues, R&B and zydeco filling up a smoked-out club for hours.

Out of the truckloads of concerts I've seen, covering the spectrum of music today, this show was the best, bar none.

Snowden's article summed up the feeling of that night--pure magic and unadulterated fun. Chenier's imprint on music at large--zydeco in particular--is now being felt, as Snowden pointed out. Chenier cannot benefit from this growing popularity now, but he has most certainly left his mark.



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