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The Sam Brothers

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The Sam Brothers -- vocalist and bandleader Leon, lead guitarist Carl, bassist Glen, washboard player Calvin and drummer Rodney -- were among zydeco's most prominent family acts, making their initial splash while still in their teens and later becoming one of the most electrifying bands on the contemporary zydeco circuit. The Houston-based siblings took their earliest inspiration from their father Herbert Sam, himself a part-time accordionist who led his own five-piece zydeco band; as each of the brothers learned his respective instrument he then joined the group, and when Herbert retired from active duty the Sam Brothers -- a.k.a. the Sam Brothers Five -- were officially born. In 1979, the teens were discovered by Arhoolie Records producer Chris Strachwitz at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; not only did Strachwitz organize a West Coast tour, but he also recorded their debut LP, the live Sam Brothers Five. Cruisin' On followed in 1981, after which the brothers spent the rest of the decade focusing on performing live; finally, in 1989 they returned to the studio to record Zydeco Brotherhood. ~ Jason Ankeny