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While some Afro-Creole musicians from Louisiana and Texas are adding hip-hop beats and autotuned R&B vocals to their accordion-propelled zydeco sound, twenty-somethings Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole, who are appearing at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage tonight, are going in a different direction. Watson, once a member of the Pine Leaf Boys, was first known for reviving the old-school fiddle-led bayou sound known as “La-La,” which mixed blues and French Creole waltzes. On the recent album L’Esprit Creole, the group instead mostly offers upbeat, joyous zydeco—-with some extra African- and Caribbean-derived percussion, plus some ’70s R&B influences, thrown in. “Zydeco Paradise” features a funky horn section, while the melancholy “C’est La Vie” adds a slight reggae tinge to its otherwise stately triangle- and accordion-guided feel. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Stafford enhances the fullness of the group’s sound with tastefully effective Rhodes piano and steel guitar on a number of tracks, and Watson’s charismatic personality shines throughout via his playing and French vocals.
Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole perform tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW. Free. (202) 467-4600.