Arriving late to zydeco after beginning his career playing top 40, multi-instrumentalist C.J. Chenier nonetheless managed to serve an apprenticeship with his father, zydeco king Clifton Chenier, picking up accordion and enough of the rudiments to seamlessly take over the Red Hot Louisiana Band after Clifton's death. Although zydeco tradition—synonymous with his father's sound—remains the core of C.J.'s music, he has consistently pushed its boundaries, adding measured doses of jazz, rock, and pop, or emphasizing key zydeco components like funk and R&B. And of course there are the blues, which permeate Chenier's last album, The Desperate Kingdom of Love (World Village), recorded just a few months after Katrina ripped up the Gulf Coast. It's an atypical Chenier album despite a few raucous, accordion-fueled, party-hearty tunes. For one thing, he's backed by the roots band Tarbox Ramblers. Then, P.J. Harvey's title song and covers of Hank Williams's "Lost on the River" and Van Morrison's "Comfort You" eloquently, if not explicitly, etch the post-hurricane sense of desperation. That's in large measure thanks to Chenier's rich and impassioned vocals, which also especially shine on a ferocious version of Clifton's classic "Black Snake Blues." For these Dakota dates, including the Sunday fundraiser for the Under the Radar Foundation (with New Orleans trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis), Chenier will again be at the helm of the Red Hot Louisiana Band.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Nov. 21. Continues through Nov. 22, 2008