Buckwheat Zydeco Down Home Live!

Stanley Dural, Jr., aka Buckwheat Zydeco, has been a working musician for over 30 years, and Down Home Live!, recorded last year at El Sid O's in Lafayette, LA, is his first ever live recording. It shows Buckwheat doing what he does best - giving people a good time. He manages to walk that razor-thin line between giving a crowd what they want and pandering to them. His studio recordings can occasionally verge on over-polished, but there's nothing slick or fancy here; it's funky, greasy, and sweaty from start to end. With the lengthy introductions and numerous crowd exhortations, he works the stage in the grand James Brown style, albeit with a lot less ego. With his four-piece horn section and triple guitar lineup, his music has always had a larger R&B component than more primal zydeco exponents like the recently deceased Boozoo Chavis and Beau Jocque. There's a mess of R&B and soul here, but it's all firmly anchored with a bubbling New Orleans funk and syncopation. All the tracks are long: there are only nine of them but the disc runs a full 72+ minutes. He keeps the party atmosphere going whether he's blasting through his own "What You Gonna Do?," Fats Domino's "Walking To New Orleans," or the closing 13-minute version of the Stones' "Beast Of Burden." The latter's loping beat is perfectly suited to Buckwheat's zydeco retooling. (Independent)