Buckwheat Zydeco – Mean Fiddler, London 27th January 1989

We didn’t set off to see this gig!

I had tickets to see Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians at the ICA at some point either at the end of 1988 or the beginning of 1989 but the gig was cancelled as she was hospitalised with impacted wisdom teeth. When she was better a new gig was organised for this date at the Marquee. I think you had to be a member to buy advance tickets so we turned up on the night and stood in the massive queue. Unfortunately the gig sold out before we got to the front of the queue and funnily enough the price the touts wanted rocketed. We weren’t very happy as we had had tickets for the previous gig* but we didn’t want to waste the evening so we went to buy a copy of Time Out to see what else was on!

We ended up at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden where we liked the description of the headline act Buckwheat Zydeco! They were a band from Louisiana fronted by accordionist and singer Stanley Joseph Dural, Jr. Zydeco is a form of music that like Cajun music originated in Louisiana  by French Creole speakers which blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the native people of Louisiana. Though distinct in origin from the Cajun music of Louisiana, the two forms frequently influenced each other! The band were in the UK supporting Eric Clapton at his run of shows at the Royal Albert Hall and as EC had taken the night off had organised their own headline show at the Mean Fiddler.

The thing I remember most about their performance was that there was a guy with a washboard strapped to his chest playing rhythms! I’ve put up a couple of videos I found from them in 1989 so you can get a flavour of what they were like!

The support act was Andy White’s Class Men. I first heard of Andy White a few years earlier when he put out a single about the troubles in Northern Ireland called Religious Persuasion which I  saw him play on TV probably the OGWT and really liked. I remember that I bought it in the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street and after I’d paid for it I was looking through the record racks when I am sure Andy White was standing next to me! I recognised him from the TV show. I was too embarrassed to ask him to sign the record though because the conversation would have had to have started with “excuse me are you…” I have no recollection if he played the song on this night or not!

* I did eventually get to see Edie Brickell supporting Bob Dylan at Wembley Arena on the 8th June that year but the excitement had worn off by then!