Ernest James Zydeco | 3 Steps from La La

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World: Zydeco Blues: Louisiana Blues Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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3 Steps from La La

by Ernest James Zydeco

The grit, the good times and the tradition. Louisiana style Zydeco - all original songs. All Star line-up. Led by accordion and washboard, this album explores modern Zydeco as well as some older style Zydeco. Bluesy and heartfelt.
Genre: World: Zydeco
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Shake It Sugaree
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4:33 album only
2. Lookin
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4:07 album only
3. Whoa Sally
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3:51 album only
4. Supposed to Do
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4:12 album only
5. Zydeco Mothers' Day
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2:40 album only
6. Man Across the Street
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3:22 album only
7. Hey Mojo
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3:47 album only
8. Janitor
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3:46 album only
9. Pearlie Pearl
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3:16 album only
10. Red Cross People
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6:28 album only
11. Glory Glory
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5:10 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Unleashing their new album “3 Steps from La La,” Ernest James Zydeco brings fresh power to Kansas City’s diverse music scene.
With a mix of traditional and no-so-traditional zydeco songs, Ernest James Zydeco has put their own stamp on the long standing tradition of zydeco. The band’s new album “3 Steps from La La” features original music that keeps things fresh at every turn. With lyrics full of meaning and melodies that stay with you, the band weaves its way through a collection of 11 songs that could best be summed up as a uniquely Midwestern take on the art form. The EJZ band crosses boundaries with their trademark modern spin on zydeco: fans of jazz and the blues will respond to the complexity of sound and musicality, and the band’s energy and depth speaks to fans of folk and rock.
Already recognized in the roots music world, Joel Savoy, owner and producer of Valcour Records (Eunice, Louisiana) said: “I really dig their sound. I love that they’ve created such an original sound out of Zydeco.” Bruce Iglauer, founder and owner of Alligator Records, (Chicago, IL) praised it as well: “I really enjoyed the disc. The playing is strong, the ensemble is tight, and the energy level is good.” Although “3 Steps from La La” is self produced, the band has been honored by Valcour Records as “Artist of the Month” for their work.
This album features a new approach to the task of songwriting: Ernest James and Jaisson Taylor co wrote and co produced the songs. As a result the band has evolved beyond their traditional zydeco foundation, although to be sure, several new songs can only be described as all-out zydeco parties. The use of instrumentation on this album reveals remarkable range, including beautiful work on the steel guitar by Mike Stover, African talking drum by Jaisson Taylor, and virtuoso fiddling by Betse Ellis. The album includes tracks such as Red Cross People, which is a wry and timely social commentary taking the form of a relaxed swamp/gospel groove, as well as Man Across the Street – a haunting and sparse ballad contrasting sharply with traditional yet fresh new zydeco tracks such as Shake it Sugaree.
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, the band lineup has been constant since 2008: Ernest James on accordion and vocals, Barry Barnes rubs the washboard, Jaisson Taylor mans the drums, Mike Stover holds down the bass guitar, and Tony LaCroix plays the guitar. This album also includes 4 special songs that feature one of the area’s finest fiddlers: Kansas City’s own Betse Ellis (previously of The Wilders).
“I wanted to make an impact with this recording” says lead vocalist and accordionist Ernest James. “I wanted the band to explore not only the modern Zydeco context, but also some of the pre zydeco era – including the early creole zydeco called ‘la la music.’ La la had old-style fiddle and accordion I thought we could make relevant. I was talking with Mike Stover about my idea, and right away he suggested Betse [Ellis, previously of The Wilders]. I called her up and we ended up talking for a long time. She knew this whole different side, more of the South-Louisiana Cajun style. We went to the studio to cut the 4 songs she’s on, and Betse showed up big time. She bit the head off the chicken. Just totally nailed it. It was scary. When I was standing there in the control room listening to her play, I got chicken pimples on my arms. I love this recording!”
This album was recorded and mixed in Kansas City at Markosa Studios, with the expertise of Mark Thies. His creative and lighthearted approach was invaluable. “We laid down the basic tracks by playing live, in the studio, all together” explains Ernest James, “That’s what created the vibrancy and rhythmic interplay. Mark did a terrific job capturing that, and accentuating that.” The album was mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room in Chicago.

Stay tuned to more fun with Ernest James and his gang “We’re looking forward to Mardi Gras madness in February!”

You can learn more about the band at www.EJZydeco.com
Buy the CD “3 Steps from La La” at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ErnestJamesZydeco


Reviews


to write a review

Bernard Boyat - Review in Cri du Coyote 132‏

Have a Ball
“We’re dealing with the third CD from this Kansas City, Missouri singer/accordionist’s group, which includes Barry Barnes (washboard), Jaisson Taylor (drums), Mike Stover (bass) and Tony LaCroix (guitar). It doesn’t balk at innovating zydeco: for example we find Mike Stover on steel guitar, Jaisson Taylor on African Drum or guest Betse Ellis on violin. The album’s title is an apt reflection on what it contains: modern zydeco (Glory Glory sports a gospel feel), more traditional fare (Zydeco Mothers’ Day has a whiff of Chicago blues), the unexpected with the gospel ballad Man Across The Street, but also an attempt to follow zydeco to its roots, to the time when this music was called “la-la.” Dancers will have a ball with this!”

Juke Joint Junkie- Patty McGehee

Juke Joint Junkie review of "3 Steps from La La"
I had become interested in this band when Valcour records made their previous CD the CD of the month, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE NOT RELEASED ON VALCOUR RECORDS! That's what got my attention in the first place.

I was checking post on the Facebook feed and saw an interesting thing. Ernest James posted he was playing an Octoberfest gig and I laughed to myself. Zydeco music is a far cry from German Polkas. Then a few days later Ernest posted a funny statement. He a said a man approached him in the middle of the gig and this is what was said: (Copied from his FB Page ....)

" Quote from Tulsa man: "Heard what chu boys was playing right dare an I said, "Them German boys been eatin' some crawfish!" #firm handshake at Oktoberfest

I got a full belly laugh at that. I was ready for the new CD. After communicating with Ernest back and forth, he sent it to me. I have it in the car CD deck and have been digesting every note of it song by song. It is VERY GOOD.

The Zydeco influence is still strong, but this CD is very complex. Starting out with the lead cut, "Shake it Sugaree," each cut is strong and well thought out. As I stated in the previous review of his two previous CD's, there is an undercurrent of melodies that are California influenced, such as the guitar work on "Sugaree."

My favorite cut, "Supposed to do" is pure blues. This is a song about evading temptation. I love it, especially when he professes to the seductress, " If you knew what I had you would understand......"
The intro to this song starts out with clear as a bell guitar work, has a silent moment then spins into low down gutsy groove. There are sophisticated drums and lead guitar licks that knock me out. It is hard driving, in a slow gutteral way that hits home. It slows down and then builds up suspense over and over again. You can see the mental struggle the singer faces and -SNAP- you feel his dilemma. The chorus is sung with two part harmonies which is brilliant.

Ernest is very good at writing lyrics with some tongue in cheek witty sexual innuendo. On "Woa Sally" he sings about Sally taking him "into into the kitchen and turning out the lights, then "turning on the stove," then into the basement, going "underground," and other two meaning phrases that are a delight. The lyrics are sung in a very catchy pleasing way. The second song with innuendo that I like is "Janitor" which starts out with a clever statement after a ringing doorbell, "Did someone call for the janitor?" followed with some clever two meaning lyrics.

Jaisson Taylor vocals ramps it up on "Zydeco Mother's day" with some hard core blues. If you like the Blues, you will adore this cut.

The whole CD is filled with extremely good guitar work, well thought out lyrics and harmonies, and attention to detail.The song "Red cross People" is an example of story telling, emotional insight into the plight of the rail riders and homeless in America, and the fact that there is little consideration for these people. It is told with a hint of humor. The mean, psychedelic guitar work at the end highlights the cluster-funk of angst these people must go through. There are layers upon layers of guitar work towards the end that express the jumbled up feelings that these people must endure. Jaisson Taylor sings one soulful line that really hits home at the end "I didn't hurt nobody....."

Ernest ends the CD with the Gospel standard, "Glory Glory" ramped up with accordion that is complex, pleasing, and sure to be played over and over again if you pop it into you CD player. This is like a cross between Dixieland and Zydeco woven together in a way I have never heard before. It is delightful.

Their CD release party will be held on November 30th, 2012 with their first live performance with their fiddler:


BB's Lawnside BBQ
1205 E. 85th Street
Kansas V City, Mo
64131(816)

You can access this CD by going to
http://www.cdbaby.comArtist/ErnestJamesZydeco
the band's website is www.ejzydeco.com

Patty McGehee

Dan Willging

Offbeat Magazine Review
If you only heard selected cuts from this disc, you’d never guess that Ernest James Zydeco comes from a land famous for barbecue and a regrettably woeful football team—Kansas City. The band, led by namesake accordionist Ernest James, smacks it hard on a handful of vintage zydeco tracks that feature Wilders’ fiddler Betse Ellis. But EJZ is also far enough from proverbial cultural lines that the group isn’t afraid to inject its own—sometimes humorous—personality on this all-original affair. There’s usually a tie-in somewhere to the zydeco canon such as the “Hot Tamale Baby” intro of “Lookin’” and the John Delafose-lolloping “You Made Me Cry” riff on the Cajun-esque “Shake It Sugaree.” Though “Janitor” is sans accordion, rhythmically it borrows from Delafose’s “Joe Pete Got Two Women.”

While EJZ doesn’t attempt to mask as a Louisiana-East Texas zydeco aggregation, lyrically “Whoa Sally” spills all the beans—no sea level zydeco band would ever sing about being in a basement. “Zydeco Mother’s Day” is almost hysterical with drummer Jaisson Taylor’s convincing John Lee Hooker imitation.

But since EJZ hails from such a jazz- and blues-endowed city, the group can’t always be about zydeco. Songs stray off into the rock and Americana realm: “Red Cross People” features a clickin’ groove and jamming electric resonator guitars. Some tracks even feature steel guitar. As its title implies, “Glory Glory” is a rousing gospel that, interestingly, includes a banjo among its arrangement arsenal. For such a roots fusion, it works.