The Cha-Chas play all night.
Friday night saw the first show of the year from the Tantramarsh Blues Society. Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas played a double set to a packed George’s Roadhouse. The accordion-driven strain of the blues kept the mood light and the crowd engaged, and fun permeated the evening through and through. The band, which hails from Louisiana, played a version of the blues steeped in the culture of the bayou. From their lyrics in French Creole to the smooth rhythm and blues undertones, their entire set oozed authenticity.
The band’s massive stage presence clearly demonstrated their experience. Nathan Williams was constantly off the stage twirling amongst the onlookers with his accordion never at rest. Mark Williams, all the while playing a portable rub-board, followed suit in not letting his duties as a musician get in the way of his dancing. There was a feeling that the rest of the band would have joined them as well if they were not confined to the stage by their respective instruments.
The performance featured some covers, such as “Jambalaya on the Bayou” and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” which were absolutely on point in providing a jumping-off point to extended jamming. It was this ability to just jam while having their audience truly engaged and invested in the music that turned what was, on the surface, a one show set to a three-hour-long odyssey with only a short twenty-or-so minute break in the middle. The result was a show that pushed through to the midnight hours, an extraordinary feat given that the band began punctually at 9 pm.
Despite every seat in the bar being filled, with the exception of those vacated by those who chose to hit the dance floor, the student turnout was low. The crowd for the most part consisted of professors, fresh off the picket lines, and locals. It was a shame considering the student deal that the Blues Society offered for the talent on display and the excellent care-free break from the strike that the night turned out to be.
The show was the first of three scheduled by the Tantramarsh Blues Society for the winter semester. The second will be California’s Candye Kane, playing on March 8. AllMusic raves about her saying that “she knows how to sing the blues in all of its flavours, and she sings like she’s been there and done that and isn’t afraid of what the end of the night brings.”