Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars Distill the Spirit of Louisiana in GULFSTREAM

By the muddy bayou, under moss-strung oaks, American rock 'n' roll was born--or at least, one of its many forms. It flourished in small bars and dancehalls, on local radio stations, in family vinyl collections, long before it morphed into its current commercial form. It's still alive and kicking, thanks to bands like Lafayette, Louisiana's Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars.

Where Creole meets Cajun, where age-old folk ballads bump up against funk, soul, and the blues, the accordion-driven, piano-pounding powerhouse picks up the throb, hum, and beat and delivers an engaging, deeply rooted set of songs on Gulfstream (Octavia Records; national release: September 16, 2016). These hometown heroes dig deep in their cultural roots, expanding their music high off of the levee of traditionalism.

This isn't a musical museum exhibit, some exercise in historic reenactment, or retro chic. Filtered through the expert ear of British record producer John Porter, whose credits include both seminal rock bands like The Smiths andRoxy Music and blues icons like BB King, Bonnie Raitt, and Taj Mahal,Gulfstream gives listeners a blast of Acadiana, the region of South Louisiana home to Cajun and Creole culture. It taps inspiration from local legends and unsung history-makers to refine and contribute to South Louisiana's musical landscape.

"American rock and roll music started in this area. From the bayous of Southwest Louisiana to New Orleans, so much American music was born here and is still played here," explains the All-Stars' pianist and songwriter, Eric Adcock . "Swamp pop bubbled up here in the '50s and '60s and is still performed today. The bottom line: Lafayette is a magical musical and cultural place."

Hub City All-Stars front man, Roddie Romero, first heard the accordion when his grandfather would break out the instrument at family gatherings. He was hooked. "What attracted me first was the pure sound and shape of it, how sound came out of both sides of it. As a kid it sounded like a carnival to me," Romero recalls. "I'd go and shut myself up for hours with all these old records, all locally produced."

After success in his teens touring internationally leading a Cajun band, Roddie developed his soulful vocal skills and slide guitar chops as influenced by local guitar wizard, Sonny Landreth. Over twenty years ago he teamed up with his friend, pianist/songwriter Eric Adcock, and the Hub City All-Stars were formed. Together, their musical evolution began.

The wealth of local music keeps growing, in part thanks to the All-Stars. Long-adored local darlings, they went from their teenage years sneaking into zydeco bars to play, to sharing the stage with bands like Los Lobos, Jimmy Buffett, and Grammy-winning producer, John Porter's heart. With their Porter collaboration on Gulfstream, the band is poised to bring the spirit of their hometown, distilled over decades of rocking the bandstand to the world.

Music runs through life in Lafayette, LA; through sipping coffee, porch visits, and of course, celebrating the "joie de vivre". Food, dance, socializing, and dancehall grooves make up the sense of place. "We come from this rich tradition of culture in Acadiana, but we're only two hours away from the funk, groove, and soul of New Orleans," Adcock says. "People here come from real roots. The Creole and Cajun communities here like to have a good time. We're a spirited community and we love to dance. Our music is a fun, soulful music. We have a festival for everything."

The Hub City All-Stars dig deep into the magic of South Louisiana through original songwriting. They pay tribute to dear friend and mentor Buckwheat Zydeco and the sweaty, all-night dance parties that shaped their sound ("No Need for a Crown"). They illuminate the late-night antics and mystery of a historic New Orleans' drinking establishment ("Creole Nightingale"). They collaborated with Louisiana musical legend and cultural scholar, Zachary Richard, on the French lyrics to "Donne-Moi, Donc".

They also reinterpreted lesser-known gems by songwriting greats Allen Toussaint, ("My Baby is the Real Thing," "Po'Boy Walk") and Bobby Charles, whose song "I Must be in a Good Place Now" which he recorded with The Band. "My hometown native Bobby Charles arguably incubated and started rock 'n' roll in the 1950s, then later in life he teamed up with The Band," recounts Adcock. "Roddie's always noodled around with that song. Late one night in the studio, we were out underneath the oak trees at the studio where Bobby used to record. We decided, 'Let's cut it, just the two of us.' We've always been old soul brothers, and it seemed like the right song to wrap up Gulfstream."

"In Lafayette, it's about spending time with people, telling stories, cooking, dancing, drinking coffee. And at the end of the day, you share everything with music. That's life," Romero adds. "You write a song about it, about the hardship, too. You connect with someone else that's going through the same things."

The hardship may be personal (as in the heart-crusher "I Hope") or communal ("Gulfstream," with its Springsteen-esque chronicle of small-town life), but it never gets the last word (or note) for the All-Stars. "We've been called an immersive Louisiana experience," remarks Adcock with a proud grin, an experience that runs from inspired roots to the house-rocking future of Southern music.

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