The undisputed capitol of Lil’ Brian’s world, is the hamlet of Barrett Station, Texas—B.S.T. to those in the know. This unprepossessing, well kept, Texas crossroads, just outside Baytown and not far from H-Town (Houston), is smack dab in the middle of East Texas Zydeco country. The Creole people of this part of the country, most with strong Louisiana roots, are at least as ardent about Zydeco as their neighbors across the border in Louisiana. The clubs, festivals and radio pulse with Zydeco rhythms both traditional and new, enjoyed by young and old.
It was at Buckwheat Zydeco’s wild shows in Houston’s Catholic Church halls that the young Lil’ Brian was first spellbound by the big piano note accordion played by the Maestro, Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural. Dural encouraged the youngster and was instrumental in launching his career. Lil’ Brian responded by absorbing Dural’s musical lessons and developing his ability to take Zydeco where it had never been before. Brian even had a picture of Buck’s accordion tattooed on his right biceps!
Lil’ Brian also benefited from exposure to his relatives, the father and son Zydeco Greats, John and Geno Delafose, whom Lil’ Brian would visit in Louisiana on summer vacations. With help from Mom and Dad, Lil’ Brian outfitted a band and began playing local gigs. A year later, at the suggestion of Dural, he sent the first of several demo tapes to Rounder Records’ Scott Billington. Longtime Buckwheat Zydeco bassist, Lee Allen Zeno, began working with the band, and went on to co-produce with Billington Lil’ Brian & The Travelers’ first two albums, Fresh (1995 Rounder) and Z-Funk (1997 Rounder).
In this milieu, for the past decade and more, Lil’ Brian & The Travelers have developed a reputation as the most innovative and musically accomplished Zydeco band on the scene. Brilliantly drawing upon contemporary urban black sounds while remaining respectful and true to their Zydeco roots, Lil’ Brian and The Travelers have created an incredibly exciting modern form of Zydeco music that is both rhythmically and lyrically sophisticated and just plain unbelievably funky! They have dubbed their music Z-Funk.
Lil’ Brian’s last release, Funky Nation (2000 Tomorrow Recordings), continued Lil Brian’s bold statement that Zydeco can be a cutting edge sound as vital to a new generation of fans as it has been for longtime aficionados. Significantly, it also represents the first album Dural has produced for another artist. And Funky Nation is the first album by another artist to be released on Dural’s own record label, Tomorrow Recordings.
Lil’ Brian is a virtuoso of both the large piano note accordion and the old-style diatonic accordion and is serious about showing how this instrument can be as hip as any in contemporary music. “There are no limits to this music,” says Lil’ Brian. “I love the roots of Zydeco. My greatest joy is to take these roots and combine them with today’s beat to make it my music.” His new release, Worldwide, continues to push the envelop in the world of the accordion and Zydeco.
To learn more about Lil Brian & the Travelers visit their MySpace page:
[back to top]