Mardi Gras style with Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas

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  • By Rick Olivier Nathan Williams

Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas will deliver a performance in Mardi Gras style and the fast and furious accordion-driven dance music of the Creole people of South Louisiana at the Newton Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.

With its trademark rubboard percussion, electric guitars and R&B influences, zydeco is a fast-tempo roots music, distinct from the fiddle-driven music of neighboring Cajuns.

Zydeco is now a familiar sound to many, heard in commercials for mainstream companies such as Burger King and Toyota, and there are pockets of devoted zydeco dancers throughout the world.

Growing up in a Creole-speaking home in St. Martinville, Williams sought out the music of zydeco originators such as Clifton Chenier. When he was too young to actually attend a Clifton Chenier dance at a St. Martinville club, he hovered by the window-sized fan at the back of the building to hear his idol, only to have the bill of his baseball cap clipped off by the fan when he leaned too close. Later, while recovering from a serious illness, Williams decided to dedicate himself to learning the accordion. That dedication blossomed into a career, encompassing seven albums and spanning close to two decades.

The music of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas is the expression of a South Louisiana family. Dennis Paul Williams, Nathan’s brother, brings his jazz-influenced guitar talent to the band. He’s also a well-known painter who contributed the cover and tray card paintings for their new album, Hang It High, Hang It Low. Keyboardist Nathan Williams Jr. leads his own band in the Lafayette area. Rubboard player Mark Williams is a cousin who has been with the band since its inception. Manager Sid El Sid O Williams, the eldest Williams brother, is an entrepreneur who has built a network of businesses in Lafayette, while honing his skills as an accordion contender himself.

Rounding out the Cha Chas is bassist Paul Newman and drummer Herman 'Rat' Brown, who held the drum chair with Buckwheat Zydeco for many years.

Tickets are $39 for premium seating, $34 for orchestra and $29 for balcony seating and are on sale at or call the box office at 973-383-3700. Newton Theatre is located at 234 Spring Street in Newton.

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