I caught up Curley Taylor at Rhythm and Roots in Charlestown, RI. This was Curley's first experience at R&R as a band leader; an experience which he described as "Great, loved it!"
One conversation with this up and coming powerhouse Zydeco artist gives you a sense of his gentle inner spirit but leaves you with no doubt about his intelligence and ambition. Curley has a mission to bring Zydeco to the commercial market place. Respecting the traditional roots of Zydeco, Curley Taylor blends the more contemporary styling of rap, hip hop with a dash of soulful R&B and an occasional sprinkle of Latin rhythm designed to be heard in the larger music market. Curley believes that once you capture new listeners and they begin to explore the music, some will be hooked. He feels his job is to "get them to the music and then let them make up their minds."
Make no mistake, Curley plays highly danceable Zydeco with a driving groove and uncontained energy that gets you up and keeps you up on your feet. I asked Curley what differentiates his music and his band from other Zydeco bands. He explained that "I am best at being me, while Geno has to be Geno and Buckwheat has to be who he is." His music is distinctly his. When people listen to Curley Taylor they know that they are listening to Curley. He doesn't want his band to sound just like other Zydeco Bands. When I asked him to comment on the statement "Curley Taylor has one of the most soulful voices in Zydeco today." he remarked "It's just me. I can't be someone else or do something different. It's inside of me. I grew up on it." He revealed that his next CD will likely be named "Truth" because that is what Curley is all about; being true to himself.
Like many Zydeco artists Curley comes naturally by his musical heritage from his dad. Best known as a blue vocalist, Jude Taylor blends blues and soulful R&B into his Zydeco sets. Curley started his Zydeco career at about 15 playing the drums for his dad. Curley explains that most Zydeco artists begin on drums because "playing the drums turns most of the guys on. They just love beating on those drums."
As a Zydeco performer, Curley has also played drums for Steve Riley, CJ Chenier and Geno Delafose. While working with CJ, Curley picked up the accordion to further his exploration into the music and preparing himself to headline his own band. He formed his own band and recorded Country Boy while he was drumming for Geno Delafose. He explained that he didn't want to risk giving up a paying job until he knew the music would sell. I asked Curley what has been his toughest job? Without hesitation Curley replied: "Playing with my dad because there is a different set of expectations and its a different kind of relationship."
Zydeco Trouble is made up of his brother, Errol on bass guitar, Eric Minix on drums, Keith Clament on keyboard and Matt Sonnier on rubboard. The band members are childhood friends and are quite tight. All are accomplished musicians and Matt is an incredible dancer. Together they produce a sound filled with emotion and energetic grooves. Curley is clearly is proud of his band and grateful for their support.
I asked Curley "What will the next step in your career progression be?" Aside from working on a new CD, he is looking for the right big promotional boost. He's trying to get the right people to hear him. He intends to break into the commercial market and broaden Zydeco's appeal. His music won't abandon the traditions but as an innovator he will enhance the style to appeal to a new generation. With a youthful outlook, a lot of energy and an immense talent, Curley is bound for success.