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Clifton Chenier: Live at the San Francisco Blues Festival

Don Snowden, Boston Phoenix, The, 19 November 1985

ZYDECO, the musical marriage of Louisiana's indigenous Cajun and Southern R&B traditions, first crawled out from the bayous and oil derricks of southwestern Louisiana 30 years ago, with the black-chart success of Chiftin Chenier's 'Aye Tete Fille'. Chenier has ruled the zydeco kingdom as a private fiefdom since then, rebuffing all challengers to the Imperial Margarine-style crown he sports at performances. And Live at the San Francisco Blues Festival captures the Tabasco-fueled power and finesse of his Red Hot Louisiana Band at its peak. It's an accidental album, really taped three years ago by a sound man who set up a couple of mikes near the mixing booth at the outdoor festival and came up with a surprisingly clear crisp mix. Live is an aural documentary, an unadulterated, unretouched portrait of a Clifton Chenier performance complete with between-song pauses and stage patter ("Where we come from the crawfish got soul and the alligators sing the blues").

Total word count of piece: 417