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Al Rapone & the Butanes
Plays Tribute
Atomic Theory 1133

The Butanes collaborate with Grammy Award winning accordionist Al Rapone to play tribute to the greatest zydeco performer of all time, Clifton Chenier.

solid pros and the music jumps...

Real Blues Magazine

 

 
 
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Curtis Obeda, Al Rapone and Taj MahalThe Butanes can easily be described as a hard-headed bunch but we certainly met our match in Mr. Rapone. It was once said of Al that he was a "guy who wouldn't accept yes as an answer." Misunderstandings, arguments and dust-ups occurred regularily yet some pretty good music got made along side the turmoil. I realize that I didn't grow up in a Zydeco tradition but I always thought that Al was a fine accordionist (and even better chef!) and pairing him with the Blues-based Butanes seemed to be an interesting way of getting to the sound favored by the late great Clifton Chenier.

Our first show with Al was arranged by our pal Jim 'Corps Solide' Callen. Jim had known Al and his sister Queen Ida for many years and recently began helping a local club, The Ragin' Cajun, with some bookings. Jim also played rub board with Al and The Butanes but it was his role as intermediary that was most valuable. Jim's unenviable job was to listen to each camp and relay the important information to the other. This cut down on the number of arguments but also lead to Jim "getting it from both sides."

Al had a pretty sweet deal going because his wife Alice worked for Northwest airlines and he could fly anywhere on standby. Between Alice, Jim and a few others at the airline we could fly the band to gigs with the use of "buddy fares" that allowed us to also fly standby. There was a cost to these tickets but it was much less than flying full fare so we were able to play many dates that otherwise wouldn't have made much economic sense. We played a New Years Eve party in Detroit, a party at the Revere, Massachusetts Yacht Club and frequent stands at Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland. Al joined us more than once during our regular visit to the Virgin Islands. During a week long trip to California Jim loaned his convertible to me and John and we had a wonderful side trip to Yosemite on a day off as well as a few great days in San Fransisco during a beautiful Bay area autumn. We played a week in Alaska in Anchorage and Soldotna and returned with a large salmon that Al turned into a most delicious Court-bouillon.

Al had been talking for years about recording a tribute to Clifton Chenier. He said he had a 2 record deal with Blind Pig but had never given them a second project. The Butanes won some studio time when they were voted Best Blues Band in some strange Blues Society-based contest we didn't know we were in and Jim lined up some investors and soon we were in rehearsals for the project. Al had most of the material picked out long in advance but the last track on the disc, It's My Soul, was suggested by the man who designed the fine cover art, Chuck Anderson.

After the CD had been mixed we found out that Blind Pig wasn't interested. For some reason Al took the master tapes to California, added harmonica (?!) and remixed the tapes from a wonderful hi-fidelity to tiny transistor radio and then dropped off the face of the earth. I had been involved in general conversations with a local record company, Atomic Theory, about releasing The Butanes Soul Revue's One Night in CD form. I mentioned that we had this disc sitting around gathering dust and he gave it a listen, liked it and agreed to release it. The disc received a few nice reviews but was mostly met with thunderous indifference, too bad as it was nice set of songs played well.

           
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