Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dwayne Dopsie's Hellraising Zydeco

One of the sons of the late Rocking Dopsie (Alton Rubin), Dwayne ‘Dopsie’ Rubin is one of several sons that followed their legendary father into zydeco music and has in the years since his father’s passing has established himself as one of zydeco’s relative young guns. This writer had the pleasure of seeing him at a Blues Festival some years ago in Maryland and was impressed then. He has continued to grow and stylistically his brand of zydeco strikes this listener as more in the vein of Clifton Chenier, Buckwheat Zydeco and Nathan Williams with his heavy rocking blues and R&B styled sound in contrast to the music of the late Beau Jocque or Boozoo Chavis with more focus on vamping on a chord or two, although numbers like “Better Go Get It” on his new Sounds of New Orleans release “Up in Flames,” show he and his band hit a groove and really rock it hard.

Ben Sandmel, in his liner notes, compares Dopsie’s singing to Howlin’ Wolf as well as Beau Jocque. there is a raspiness in his voice that evokes their vocal styles, but Dopsie is a striking singer on his own. His band consists of Alex McDonald on rubboard; Shelton Sonnier; Dion Pierre on bass on bass; Calvin Sam on drums; and Carl Landry on saxophone and with Dopsie’s strong accordion and vocals, they kick butt. Rhythmically they are tight and in addition to Dopsie’s accordion playing, saxophonist may be as good as sax player in an zydeco band I have heard since Blind John Hart was with Clifton Chenier and Rockin’ Dopsie.

“Up in Flames” has a wonderfully diverse set of tunes starting with the opening “I’m Gonna Walk,” with its hint of “Don’t Mess With My Tu Tu.” It is followed by another hard rocking number, “Feel So Good,” whose melody is similar to the classic R&B number “You Can’t Sit Down.” On “I’m a Fool For You,” the band comes off like the Red Hot Louisiana Band on a blues that conjures up classic Clifton Chenier from three decades ago. This is simply great stuff and continues with the hot “Don’t Listen,” taken at an fiery tempo, yet the band is so tight and the performances don’t become frenzied and uncontrolled. “Back in the Woods,” is a more traditionally oriented zydeco number akin to Clifton doing “Zydeco De Pas Sale” with just his brother and drummer.

These recordings certainly make this writer wish he would have the opportunity to see Dwayne Dopsie again. I will miss him at jazzFest this year (he plays the first weekend, then will be in Europe the next weekend). This is available from his website He has some CDs available on, but this one is not available. It should be available from the Louisiana Music Factory. Dwayen Dopsie has a regular French Quarter gig and you can check his performance schedule on his website.

For those (including the FTC) who care about such things, i purchased this recording.

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