Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas is arguably the best zydeco band in the nation, matching superb musicianship and clever songs with a knack for keeping dancers on the floor. Lifetime Achievement Award winner Williams doesn't just stand on a stage - he owns it; his presence fills the room. And his band, the Zydeco Cha-chas, rattle the windows and walls with their hard-driving mix of blues, rock, Cajun and Creole music known as Zydeco. The Cha-chas are a tight-knit mix of family and seasoned vets. Brother Dennis Paul has been the band's guitarist for over a decade, cousin Mark, on rub-board, has been with the band since Williams cranked it up in '88. Hard hitting drummer Herman Rat Brown, who played with Buckwheat Zydeco for years, is a long time Cha-Chas vet. Brown is a no frills percussionist who hits his snare with a resounding thwack like a pistol shot. He keeps his kick drum anchored by a bungee cord to the kitchen chair he sits in to play so that the drum won't slide away away from the terrific big foot stomp he keeps up all evening.
Decked out in his big black cowboy hat and sunglasses, Williams transports his audience to a sweaty Saturday night throw-down in a steamy roadhouse deep in bayou country. Mixing tempos and genres from the hard-driving Zydeco drenched soul of his take on Otis Redding's "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Sad Songs" to Boozoo Chavis' rattly Cajun classic "Paper In My Shoe," Williams keeps the dance floor full of energetic and enthusiastic fans writhing in ecstasy all night long.
Nathan is a grinning ambassador for all things Louisiana. He keeps saying that in his home town of St Martinville, "even the crawfish have soul." Switching from diatonic to piano to button accordions, he strolls though the crowd as he plays, stopping to squeeze off a blast of hot licks in an adoring fan's face before hopping back to center stage. He alternates a syncopated take of "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" with Archie Bell and the Drells '68 hit "Tighten Up," rips off a frenetic version of king of Zydeco Clifton Chenier's "Zydeco Boogaloo," and finishes with a rousing version of Lee Dorsey's New Orleans classic "Sitting In La La."
Nathan & the Cha-chas are a lively antidote for cold feet, a hot shot of lively music that doesn't get round to these parts often enough. "Wherever you're at, I can make you rock," Nathan says. "If you don't get up and shake a leg, you better call the undertaker."