Dubbed the “Jimi Hendrix of the accordion” by Rolling Stone magazine, Dwayne “Dopsie” Rubin is a master of the “blood pumping zydeco” that seeps from the heart of Louisiana’s bayous on a hot summer night. Known for playing his accordion like a guitar, Dopsie’s fiery style incorporates elements of rock, funk, and R&B as well as the more traditional zydeco learned at the knee of his father, the late Alton Rubin Sr. (a.k.a. Rockin’ Dopsie). On his latest release, Bon Ton, Dopsie definitely ushers in summer with some good times and great music. His backing band, The Zydeco Hellraisers, features Paul Lafleur on washboard, Brandon David on guitar, Tim McFatter on sax, Dion Pierre on bass, and Dondrell Fleming on drums. Together they perform a synthesis of the blues, rhythm and blues, and traditional Cajun music that comprise the zydeco tradition.
Opening with a simulated phone call from Dopsie’s “cuz,” they coax us to party at the juke joint with “Harry’s Creole Bar.” One track that showcases Dopsie’s phenomenal accordion technique is the rollicking uptempo “Pretty Lil Girl,” while “Chain Gang Worker Blues” is an excellent example of his guitar-style licks and improvisation on a more traditional blues song. The title track “Bon Ton” is a tour de force for Dopsie and McFatter, who trade solos between sax and accordion, then make way for a guitar solo by David. “Louisiana Morning” is primarily a duet between accordion and washboard, or “rubboard” in zydeco parlance, that turns into a frenetic romp through the bayou (if this is morning in Louisiana, someone’s had way too much caffeine!). The hard rocking dance number, “Give Me What I Want,” brings the album to a perfect close, with the The Zydeco Hellraisers living up to their name.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss