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Boozoo Chavis

Boozoo Chavis (Rounder)
Boozoo Chavis
Johnnie Billy Goat
2000, Rounder

Zydeco—the hot winds off Southwest Louisiana’s prairie, the spicy jolt of a St. Martinville gumbo, the pounding heart of a runaway slave, the primal scream of an accordion being played by a master. If any man alive today is Zydeco, it’s Boozoo. He’s loud, proud, bawdy, ornery and just plain alive. Sexy songs of real life pound out to a 2-step rhythm that is powerful and entrancing. Sweat drenched dancers ride the stream of soul while Boozoo creates the music. Chavis released the first Zydeco single in 1954. That cut, "Paper In My Shoe" became an immediate sensation. Taking local Creole musical traditions and mixing in the electric drive of R&B, a new world was created. Boozoo reflects the life and heart of that. Not polished in any usual sense, the music is primal and moving. Despite an early success, the biz aspects forced Boozoo out and he was a horse trainer for 25 years, coming back to the scene in the early 80s. He returned to a world hungry for his pulsing, throbbing, stomping rural "Zodico" sound.

His shows are marathons of sweat dripping, floor pounding intensity and this disk gets it all on "vinyl." Trance-like accordion, shouted lyrics and eccentric rhythms make him the man from Lake Charles to the world and his groove is influencing most of today’s new Zydeco artists. So, what about the disk? It’s 69 minutes of pure Boozoo. Carlton Thomas plays axe, Classie Ballou dances with his bass and son Rellis does the drums while the other son, Charles rub-a-dubs the frottoir. The cuts are from live sessions that originate from a Zydeco shootout between Boozoo and Beau Jocque at the Habibi Temple and material that first appeared on 1993 and 1998 Rounder releases. It’s all there is. If you’re into Zydeco, you know him and if not, it’s Boozoo, That’s Who!!—Mark Gresser

[Editor's note: Boozoo Chavis passed away on May 5, 2001 due to complications from a heart attack and stroke.]

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