A.D. Amorosi, For The Inquirer
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 3:01 AM
Ardmore isn't New Orleans, and quiet Lancaster Avenue is surely not Bourbon Street. But on Sunday, there were some sweaty goings-on at Ardmore Music Hall with zydeco accordion king C.J. This article is from wwwphilly.comChenier the Red-Hot Louisiana Band and supporting act Philly Gumbo.
In silver brocade and sparkly shoes, Chenier, son of zydeco god Clifton Chenier, walked onstage with the heritage of Louisiana Creole funk on his shoulders. Also on his shoulders was a Baldoni accordion as opulent as his outfit.
He played sax in Dad's band, but C.J. picked up the accordion after Clifton's death in 1987 and made the low-country, French Creole zydeco groove available to dancing masses, such as the most over-40s crowd that populated the hall.
Passion, quick fingering, and rapid-fire rhythms (particularly from Clifford Alexander, Jr. in a wearable washboard) is what Chenier brought to hot stuff like "Zydeco Boogie." Having played the accordion, this writer can attest to the dexterity, stamina, and goofball energy necessary to maintain those keys and buttons with the insistent fury of Chenier on torrid blues-based tunes such as Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go" and the angularly groovy "Boogaloo." His ensemble was elastic and energetic enough to keep up with him, a credit to their grit and fortitude.
Most impressive was when Chenier slowed proceedings for "I'm Coming Home." That Cajun ballad, written by Clifton Chenier, was as waltzable as it was touching ("Meet my dear old mother/That's one woman, I know she loves me"). Punctuating each phrase with accordion runs, C.J. sang in a tender and tearful voice.
Philly Gumbo - purveyors of Louisiana funk and funeral music, downhome RB, dense blues, and righteous reggae - executed an exciting blend of syncopated grooves, starting with a cover of Dawn Penn's "No No No," a handsome showcase for vocalist India Rex. The band delighted in tasty boogie-woogie and jazzy parade songs. Nicest, though, were moments dedicated to blues god B.B. King, who stepped across Friday.