Big Easy Playboys, “Preview” (Independent)

You can’t be something you’re not, which is certainly the credo of New Orleans’ Big Easy Playboys (BEP). BEP isn’t from the epicenter of zydeco, St. Landry Parish, nor does it have centuries of Creole lineage behind it. But as evidenced by this five-song EP, the group uses all of its resources to craft a sonic, fun-filled signature that’s totally unlike its Creole contemporaries. Whereas the vocalist of most zydeco bands is its accordionist, with BEP, it’s drummer Stephen Randall, who’s known to mix second line rhythms into his zydeco beats. Accordionist Greg Speck provides a rollicking first generation flavor by playing the piano-note accordion like Clifton Chenier did. There’s even a fiddler in BEP’s arsenal, Michael Harvey, who helps conceptually draw the connection between Cajun and old-time Creole music while playing with a rock ’n’ roll edge.


Most songs follow themes of party and dance. “Dance’s mes amis” has a solid snap and pop to it; “This Old Boy” is BEP’s catchiest original, especially given Randall’s line “Lovin’ you took a heavy toll but I prayed to the saints and they saved my soul.” “Lafayette” is essentially a zydeco-ized rendition of Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux’s 1927 iconic Cajun tune “Allons à Lafayette” and closes out with stomping beats and noisy party crowd clamor. The last song, “Hook Me Up,” is an experimental concoction of zydeco meets industrial via the band Orgy but still manages to fit BEP’s mash-up personality. Though Preview is only a mere handful of songs, it offers a clear view into BEP’s individualistic approach to zydeco.