In concert: Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys at Artisphere
For a band with two percussionists, Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys didn't offer much rhythmic complexity Wednesday night at Artisphere's ballroom. Of course, one of those percussionists plays a scrub-board, whose tinny scrapings are traditional to the once-rural French-Creole style, but easily overpowered by electric bass and guitar. And the Louisiana quintet was playing at one of Artisphere's weekly dance parties, which begin with an hour of lessons. Perhaps the fiery Ledet and her 'Boys started with elementary mid-tempo vamps as a favor to the newbies.
The cadences did speed up as the group performed the first of two sets, while the music became more diverse. Rhythm guitarist Andre Nizzari got off a few jazz- and acid-rock riffs, and bassist Perrell Babineaux took the occasional solo. Instrumentally, though, the band rarely escaped the box created by Lukey Ledet's metronomic drumming and the singer's pumping accordion. It was up to the vocals to provide variety. They did, especially when Ledet and Babineaux traded call-and-response "yeahs," "ays" and "whoas.''
Many of Ledet's songs simply demand that listeners dance faster ("Pick It Up''), although she can stretch that theme until it reaches double-entendre territory ("You Can Eat My Poussiere,'' whose final word is French for "dust''). The material is basic, but Ledet delivers it with a verve that suggests early Tina Turner, and her melodies recall early-'60s New Orleans soul classics. (There's also a hint of norteno, the accordion-driven Mexican style that flavored Texas rock-and-roll around the same time.)
Ledet has called her style "sped-up blues,'' and the Playboys -- scrub-board aside -- certainly aren't zydeco purists. The group, which will play another dance Sunday afternoon at Glen Echo Park, sounded a little too urban in its influences, although the non-traditional touches remained only glimmers. Throughout it all, the underlying beat barely varied, which made the music dependable for dancers, but a little flat for listeners.
| February 10, 2011; 1:58 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Rosie Ledet
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