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Boozoo Chavis

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Album Review

As part of the American Explorer series, this album of Boozoo Chavis' work came maybe half a decade after his return to the recording scene in the mid-'80s. The tone slides between the slower, more countrified ballads and the more rollicking works toward the mainstream end of zydeco. The focus is rarely on the instrumental virtuosity, nor is it set on the lyrical content or vocal ability. The focus for the listener is the groove that Chavis and his band set up. When they get into it, it's full-fledged dancehall boogie music, and the details only exist to add to the groove's structure. When they slow down, though, the sound can get a little sparse pretty easily. The call and response can get a bit overly burdensome in the slow numbers, but there's an element of the rural sounds of zydeco throughout. This isn't the slicker, refined form from Buckwheat Zydeco, or even the middle-of-the-road basic form embraced by Chenier, but an older form with closer ties to Cajun in some cases, and a deep country feel throughout. Chavis isn't performing the same music that the others do, but that might be just the reason to give it a listen.


Born: 23 October 1930 in Lake Charles, LA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Boozoo Chavis (born Wilson Anthony Chavis) was one of the pioneers of zydeco, the Cajun and blues hybrid originating in southwest Louisiana. Although his self-composed 1954 single, "Paper in My Shoes," was the first zydeco hit, Chavis was distrustful of the music industry and refused to perform publicly or record again until 1984. In an interview featured in the 1990 book, The New Folk Music, Chavis explained, "I got gypped out of my record. I get frustrated, sometimes. I love to play, but, when...
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Boozoo Chavis, Boozoo Chavis
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