July 19, 1990 |
If ever a musician had cause to feel beleaguered, it would be C.J. Chenier, son of the late Clifton Chenier. He has quite a bloodline to live up to. The elder Chenier pioneered zydeco music in the '50s, his accordion-fired stew of Cajun and R&B virtually defining the form, and the invention and zeal of his performances setting a nearly unattainable standard. Universally hailed as the King of Zydeco, Chenier often wore a crown during his performances--and it looked good on him.
September 10, 1992
There's going to be a whole lotta dancin' goin' on at Alexander's in Ventura when J. Chenier headlines the next Blue Monday gig. He usually comes to California twice a year. It's time. Chenier has zydeco in his veins--his father, Clifton Chenier, not only used to wear a crown on stage (he was "The King of Zydeco"), but actually invented the Z-word. The elder Chenier died in 1987, and his son inherited his accordion and his band, the Red Hot Louisiana Band.
March 14, 1988 |
The late Clifton Chenier sometimes donned a gaudy crown when he performed on stage, making like an Imperial Margarine commercial to emphasize his position as the king of zydeco, the spirited mix of R&B and Cajun folk music that has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past year. But Chenier's son, C. J. Chenier, wanted no part of that as he prepared to make his debut leading his father's Red Hot Louisiana Band at the Music Machine on Friday.
May 29, 1989 |
The drama at the opening day Saturday of the third annual Los Angeles Cajun and Zydeco Festival should have been the face-off between two of zydeco's new-generation contenders. In one corner was C. J. Chenier, who in 1987 was bequeathed the accordion and the Red Hot Louisiana Band of his late father, the king of zydeco, Clifton Chenier. In the other corner was Nathan Williams, another favorite son from Lafayette, La., making his first West Coast appearance. The non-contest that ensued pointed up the folly of searching for dramatics at what is staged primarily as a gigantic back-yard barbecue, an event where the spirit of the dancing and the spiciness of the home-cooked jambalaya matter most.
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.
January 8, 1995 |
Much as reggae did after Bob Marley's death, zydeco went through a period of adjustment and mourning after the 1987 death of its dominant figure, Clifton Chenier. Although such peers as the late Rockin' Dopsie and Buckwheat Zydeco carried on Chenier's pioneering blend of Cajun, blues and '50s R&B, they never fully captured the same vibrant sound. Now a crop of younger artists has arrived from Louisiana to create fresh excitement in zydeco with updated influences.