Last week marked the return of Mardi Gras to New Orleans, as well as the crawfish, beads and liquor being poured in bar after bar along Bourbon Street. It also meant a musical palette of the region's wonderful blend of zydeco, soul, funk and blues, and five successive nights of drunken shimmying to the Radiators, one of the city's most celebrated bands.
Since the late '70s, the band has offered a blend of zydeco-pop to an adoring cult audience nationwide. The Radiators are an accomplished conspiracy of five musicians, and their jams are things of beauty long, exquisitely crafted and tight in their improvisation.
The band is unique in one respect. Despite their partying roots, the Radiators have maintained all of their original members. No one has succumbed to an overdose, or burned out, or pissed someone off in a fight over bar-band wages. Gregg Allman kicked Dickey Betts out of the Allman Brothers Band a few years back for supposed alcoholism this dismissal coming from a member of the shriveled-liver hall of fame. Don't expect such pettiness from the Radiators, a bunch of grandfatherly looking dudes who care only about hitting the right notes.
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