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East Texas’s CJ Chenier learned how to play accordion from his father, Clifton Chenier, the godfather of zydeco. But this 53-year-old musician and vocalist has always embraced more than just Gulf Coast dance floor sounds. He studied music at Texas Southern University, played piano and saxophone in Top 40 cover bands, and doesn’t shy away from funk and rock material. On CJ’s last album, 2006’s Desperate Kingdom of Love—recorded a month after Hurricane Katrina—he turned the PJ Harvey-penned title track into a slow dance ballad, transformed Hank Williams “Lost on the River” into country-soul, and summoned gospel from Van Morrison’s “Comfort You.” Among the album’s melancholy cuts, Chenier tosses in trademark numbers including “Who’s Creatin’ Who”—an amalgamation of church-rooted vocals and bouncy squeezebox over bluesy guitar, Hammond organ, and speedy Creole rubboard. On the frenetic “Bogalousa Boogie,” he largely dispenses with vocals and joins his band for a roadhouse tribute to Louisiana guitarist Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
CJ Chenier performs at 9:30 p.m. at Hill Country Barbecue, 410 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 556-2050.