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Zydeco Party Band

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It is almost a certainty that this is the only band out there playing zydeco music that boasts the title of house band for the Muppets Tonight show. The band's take on life may come from its bandleader, Doug Legacy, who played accordion with the irreverent and now defunct band Oingo Boingo. Legacy now uses his accordion to front this Los Angeles-based band that plays, as their name says, zydeco party music. The group includes some excellent core musicians, including Mark Shark on guitar, mandolin, and vocals; Rick Eckstein on bass and vocals; and Gary Ray on drums. Lynn Coulter, the band's percussionist, is actually from Louisiana. Freebo sometimes appears on bass. Together, they have put together an eclectic mix of music, with strains of R&B, swamp pop, funk, country, and zydeco. Although the band is on the other side of the country, it draws on the culture of Louisiana for the titles of its albums. The group's first release in 1994 is called King Cake Party, a reference to that gastronomic delight that only appears during the Carnival season. The ubiquitous king cake is the key to the party circuit and the band has put together some dance tunes, such as "Cakewalk," "He Hates His Threads," and "Zydeco Shoes," that might be played at just such a party. Dancin' on the Levee was released in 1996 and once again the songs have a Louisiana theme, as in the title cut "Flambeau" and with "Cajun Lady" and "Rad Gumbo." The group's Mardi Gras Mambo has as its title song one that can be heard all over Louisiana during Carnival season. The rest of the CD is an eclectic mix of tunes from writers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Clifton Chenier, as well as bandmembers Shark and Legacy, done in their high-energy style. With their emphasis on party tunes, the riotous rendition of "Bon Temps Roulez" could well be the band's theme song. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer