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Bayou fun comes to the river for Blues, Brews & BBQ

Courtesy photo
Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha-Chas will be bringing the party Friday night for Blues, Brews & BBQ at the University of Charleston. (Photo by Rick Olivier.)
WANT TO GO?Blues, Brews & BBQWHERE: University of Charleston riverbank lawnWHEN: 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. FridayTICKETS: Advance $18, at the gate $20INFO: 304-345-0775 or www.festivallcharleston.comSCHEDULE: Blues Du Jour, 5:30 p.m.; the Jimi Vincent Band, 6:50 p.m.; Marcia Ball, 8:10 p.m.; Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas, 10 p.m. __CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Whatever your plans are Friday night, Nathan Williams would like you to cancel them and come out to see him and the Zydeco Cha-Chas  at Blues, Brews & BBQ on the University of Charleston riverbank lawn."We're going to rock it," he said. "You better believe I'm going to sock it to them." The 50-year-old Louisiana native promised high-energy zydeco music so good you can't help but get up on your feet and dance."If you can't get up and shake a leg," he said, "you better just call the undertaker."For those who haven't heard of it, zydeco is a close cousin to the blues, a raucous mixture of Cajun and Creole styles -- often highlighted with the sounds of an accordion and a scrub board -- that integrates rhythm and blues, soul, rock 'n' roll and even hip-hop.Williams said he'd been playing zydeco most of his life, since he picked up his first accordion."I grew up listening to Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco," he said. "I listened to all the old players and just loved being around it, the culture. I grew up with my grandmother speaking French and the music. Then here comes me, and I'm doing it, too."
Williams said he played his first professional shows in Lafayette, La., where he lives now, but remembered that his first real break came after sitting in with the famed Buckwheat Zydeco.Buckwheat Zydeco is one of the biggest name in zydeco music and one of the few zydeco players to have achieved some mainstream success, sharing stages with Eric Clapton, Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson and others.  "He played a big part in my career," Williams said. "He helped me out a lot, hooked me up with the right people and introduced me to record company people. He was just a good guy and good friend of my brother."Williams said zydeco is kind of a family business for him. His cousin and brother have been part of the Zydeco Cha-Chas for decades. His son, Nathan Jr., has his own zydeco outfit, Lil Nathan and The Zydeco Big Timers, which has been around since Nathan Jr. was a teenager.Williams said he couldn't help but be proud that his son is continuing the tradition.Playing zydeco isn't exactly rock 'n' roll, but it's a pretty good life. He gets to bring the party.
"I just love what I'm doing," he said. "I'm blessed." __RIVER TAXIThe River Queen will run a taxi service between Haddad Riverfront Park and the University of Charleston on Saturday for Wine & All That Jazz. Those departing at UC must have or be willing to purchase a ticket to the day's event.Tickets are $3 for adults. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.Leave Haddad: 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m.Leave UC: 7:45, 9:15 and 11 p.m.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195. 
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