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Live Review
Li'l Brian & the Zydeco Travelers
@ Famous Dave's, Jan. 23, 1999
By Ray Stiles
Li'l Brian Terry
Jan. 23, 1999
Photo © 1999 Tom Asp. All rights reserved
Zydeco has always been a dynamic form of music drawing on numerous musical styles. From the early creole and cajun influences to the ground breaking work of people like Clifton Chenier and later Buckwheat Zydeco, these pioneers have always experimented with and incorporated different musical styles into what they were doing to create their own unique zydeco sounds. These diverse musical influences range from blues, R&B, country, folk and rock to reggae, funk and even rap in some of today's young zydeco bands. Li'l Brian Terry is one of this new breed.

As a teenager Brian Terry first learned how to play the button or diatonic accordion from his second cousin, Geno Delafose. He said he grew up with that music all around him. At one of his early school performances he looked out at his young audience and thought, "hey, I can incorporate some of the modern music they are listening to right now into the more traditional zydeco that I am playing." The result was the germination of a sound that Li'l Brian now calls Z-funk Zydeco. He is not alone in the new breed of players like Chubby Carrier, who continue to push the envelope of traditional zydeco adding modern sounds and popular musical styles, incorporating them into the traditional zydeco sound, reaching new boundaries and creating some exciting music. As Brian explains "when Buckwheat came out with Waitin' For My Ya Ya, it changed the whole scenery of zydeco. It showed people that zydeco didn't have to be played in one direction. And today it's a new zydeco, it's Z-funk. And that's what I'm bringing."

Brian Terry, drawing on this rich, organic, eclectic mingling of styles, has created some dynamo tunes and exciting dance music. At his Famous Dave's show he had the dance floor packed from the first song and kept it packed all night long. With the soulful harmonies from his band and his punchy accordion playing, Li'l Brian covered the musical spectrum -- from the soul sounds of King Floyd, to the funky dance mix of James Brown, to the more traditional zydeco of Clifton Chenier, to the diverse sounds of Buckwheat all the way to the cutting edge of zydeco with his funk, rap and reggae infusions. This was quite a musical dance party that the crowd just loved.

Li'l Brian & the Zydeco Travelers (his band of 13 years) currently has two albums out on Rounder, Fresh and his 1997 release Z-funk. He is working on a new album due out on Rounder in 1999. Li'l Brian is part of a group of regular zydeco bands that make frequent stops in the Twin Cities, so the next time he is in town put on your dancing shoes and head out to party with him and his Z-funk band.

This review is copyright © 1999 by Ray Stiles and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.

Li'l Brian Terry
Jan. 23, 1999
Photo © 1999 Tom Asp. All rights reserved

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