West of New Orleans, east of Lafayette and south of Shreveport lies Baton Rouge, a city that thinks it's still a small town on the Mississippi river. Home of the swamp blues sound, my home town. Music has always tugged at my soul, I remember hearing brass bands as a child. Jazz bands that blew funky blues on the street. I've always loved the sound of the accordian...cajun accordian, what a sound! Rock and roll, jazz, blues and country; it's all served up on the same plate down here in Louisiana.
I started playing music as a child, I chose the trombone, or maybe it chose me. I picked up other instruments later as a teenager including the guitar, harmonica, piano and accordian. Somewhere along the way music swept me away like a flood; I'm still trying to keep my head above the water.
In my early college years I studied trombone with great teachers like Larry Campbell, Alvin Battiste, Rick Stepton and John Laporta and studied music at LSU, Southern University and Berklee College of Music. I played in bars, bookstores, night clubs and restuarants to make ends meet.
In 1982 I moved to Shreveport to continue college work where I met lots of great musicians including Toby Cooper, Jerry Beach, Bill Causey, Jimmy Honeycut, Bill Bush, David Egan, Bruce and Buddy Flett, Jeff Spence, Brian and Brady Blade and many others.
Sometime around 1984, I was working 3-4 nights a week in Shreveport with the Stage 618 Rhythm and Blues band led by Jerry Beach who wrote the Albert King hit "I'll Play the Blues for You." I met Chuck Rainey around that time while he auditioned for a job with the band. Chuck is a world class bass player known for work with King Curtis, Duane Allman, Aretha Franklin and Steely Dan to name a few. He hired me to play in his band in Dallas which was a great experience for me. He was full of cool stories about working with people like Sonny Boy Williamson, King Curtis, Aretha and more.
While attending med school in Shreveport, I continued to work as a musician and played with some amazing people like Joe Osborn. Joe was a member of the world renown "Wrecking Crew" in Los Angeles and was also a top call studio player in Nashville. Joe has actually played on more hit records than any other bass player in the world. His knowledge and experience in the music business is incredible. Despite his legendary status as a musician he is a very down home humble cat who loves his craft. Most people agree that he plays "perfect bass lines" that are powerful yet understated.
Tom Ayers was another cat I met in Shreveport. Tom was a legendary A&R man from the early days of rock and roll who managed people like Gene Vincent (Be Bop A Lula), the Sir Douglas Quintet, and David Bowie. Tom would occaisionally book gigs for me and scheme various music projects for me to do for him. Tom introduced me to Augie Meyers, the great vox organ and accordian master from the Sir Douglas Quintet around 1985. We played some gigs that combined cajun and cajunto accordians with blues and rock and roll in Louisiana and Texas. Augie introduced me to cats like Doug Sahm, Freddie Fender and Flaco Jimenez. The Tex/Mex sound just knocks me out and in my mind it fits with Louisiana music like rice and gravy.
In 1990 I moved to New Orleans where I worked at Charity Hospital and played music in the French Quarter, and other local venues. Around that time I was introduced to Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown by Bill "foots" Samuels, a sax player and arranger who used me for some of his recording session work including Charlie Rich, and Irma Thomas. The first time I played with Gate was probably in 1990. He always had a great band and the audiences just flipped out when they heard him play. He was actually a swing style jazz picker that loved to blow musicians off the stage that thought they could keep up with him. If you weren't on top of your game he'd roll right over you. Gatemouth also played T-bone Walker style blues and loved to pick up his fiddle and get the whole place jumping like some kind of backwoods barn dance. Gate was revered by some of the biggest names in the guitar world including Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Frank Zappa and the list just keeps on going.
I worked for Gatemouth intermittently from the time I met him until he died of cancer in 2005 right after hurricane Katrina.
I was fortunate enough to play with him for his last New Orleans Jazz fest appearance in front of about thirty thousand people. While playing with Gatemouth I had the opportunity to share the stage with some of the greats like BB King, Pinetop Perkins, Ike Turner, and many others.
My first CD "ZYDECO HOUNDS, SHAKE IT DON'T BREAK IT" was recorded in Shreveport and Baton Rouge sometime around 1990. Joe Osborn helped me with this project; we used a variety of great north and south Louisiana musicians. The CD includes original material as well as some of the songs that I was performing in nightclubs around that time.
My second CD release, "CHRIS BELLEAU and the ZYDECO HOUNDS, REPEAT OFFENDER" was recorded in Baton Rouge around 1996 and mostly included original material. The horns on that CD were all done by Jon Smith and myself. Jon Smith was involved with Edgar Winger's White Trash and helped define the legendary sound of that band. Jon and I were interested in trying to produce a "jazzydeco" sound that combined elements of Louisiana accordion and jazz together. The CD was critically acclaimed and It stands on it's own as a unique blend of influences and styles.
My new CD: "CHRIS BELLEAU, KNEE DEEP IN THE BLUES" is full of louisiana flavored blues and roots style material. Stay tuned for more information and release updates.