Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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Nathan and the
Zydeco Cha Chas

Click for high res photos of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas on Flickr.

Go to the MySpace page for Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas.

2006 CD: Hang It High, Hang It Low

All but one of the 14 songs on Hang It High, Hang It Low , the 2006 CD released by Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas, are originals that offer a personal Zydeco testimony of a man committed to his music, to his family, and to God. Nathan Williams has been a bright star in the Zydeco firmament for more than 20 years, hiding behind his trademark sunglasses, smiling broadly, while his fingers move smoothly up and down the keys and buttons producing classic Zydeco that captures every emotion, from the depths of his song "The Bluest Man" to the exuberance of the title cut, "Hang It High, Hang It Low." More than anything, he wants to make people happy.  In "My Zydeco," he sings that his music is "like white lightning" that reaches your heart and soul and makes you want to move and groove.

In other cuts on the CD, Nathan Williams describes the vagaries of love in songs like "Old Man's Darling" ("Would you rather be an old man's darling or a young man's slave?") and "Your Love Lasts as Long as Your Money" ("Where there's no money, there's no honey"). He also sings about love fulfilled in "So Glad You're Mine."

The music is the product of a man who values his heritage and who has values that he cherishes. In an interview in the January 2007 issue of The Acadian, Williams described his commitment to his family and to God as being at the center of his life. His son, Nathan Jr., who plays keyboard on the CD, is already a Zydeco star in his own right. His daughter, Nathalie Ann, is a pianist, and seven-year-old Naylan Michael plays drums and rubboard with his father's band.

Nathan Williams works very hard, traveling around the nation and the world, but it's work he loves. When he sings "Don't you worry 'bout the mule, just load the wagon now," he seems to be describing part of his own attitude toward life. On stage, as he told The Acadian, when he looks out at the people enjoying themselves, he feels like he's in heaven. Whatever happens, Nathan Williams wants us to be guided by the upbeat message of another song from his personal Zydeco philosophy on this CD, "Think About the Good Times.

The CD was released on Rounder Records. For bookings contact Concerted Efforts, (617) 969-0810. Sid Williams, (337) 235-0647, has been Nathan's manager throughout his career.
     –David Simpson, Jan. 16, 2007


Photos taken in Lafayette at Downtown Alive! and Festivals Acadiens Oct. 13 and 14, 2006. Shown on drums and rubboard is seven-year-old Naylan Williams. The band's regular rubboardist, also shown, is Mark "Chuck" Williams.

Nathan Williams at the Crowley Rice Festival

Dennis Paul Williams is shown on guitar. A highly regarded artist, he provided the art work on the cover of the CD.

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Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas are shown performing on a Saturday evening during the 2000 Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. On accordion is Nathan Williams, wearing his trademark cowboy hat and sunglasses.


In "Hard Times," a song on his 2000 CD Let's Go, Nathan Williams describes his life growing up after his father died when Nathan was seven years old. According to the lyrics, he started out as a young man with an ancient 1966 Ford pick-up that he painted himself, got his first accordion from his brother Sid, and began performing for free at his brother's club, El-Sid O's in Lafayette. He followed the advice he offers in the song to "hang tough" and depend on people who will "stick with you." Today, Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas are one of the top touring zydeco bands.

As the song suggests, his oldest brother, Sid Williams, was a major influence getting him started, providing him with his first accordion that, according to Michael Tisserand's account in The Kingdom of Zydeco, Sid Williams got from Buckwheat Zydeco, who was living across the street from Sid's One Stop in Lafayette. Nathan Williams practiced the accordion, while also watching Buckwheat perform at clubs in the area and eventually getting an opportunity occasionally to join Buckwheat on stage. After being sidelined by illness, Nathan Williams had some time to consider his future and reached the decision that he wanted to form a band. In an interview Williams has said he thought up the band's name without being aware that  Zydeco Cha Cha is also the title of a tune played by Clifton Chenier.  As a young boy, who could only gaze through the window of the Casino Club, Williams had watched Chenier perform in St. Martinville. (Williams' uncle is Harry Hypolite (1937-2005), the guitar player for Clifton Chenier.)

With help from Buckwheat, Sid Williams was able to build El Sid O's Zydeco and Blues Club near his store. Buckwheat  performed there regularly but then began extensive touring. As "Hard Times" explains, when Nathan Williams tried to step into the gap left by Buckwheat's departure, he at first had to struggle to attract a crowd at El Sido's, even without charging admission, but he quickly gained popularity after his brother produced his first 45 record, "Everybody Called Me Crazy," which became a regional best seller and caught the ear of Rounder Records producer Scott Billington.


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Zydeco Live! was Nathan Williams' first CD, recorded live at El Sido's with Boozoo Chavis. Other CDs followed: Steady Rock, Your Mama Don't Know, Follow Me Chicken, Creole Crossroads (with Michael Doucet), and I'm a Zydeco Hog (live at the Rock 'n' Bowl in New Orleans), all on Rounder. Let's Go, the 2000 release, features all original songs by Nathan Williams, who adds a triple-row accordion number to varied musical styles he squeezes out of his piano accordion in the tradition of Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco. The album offers two songs in Creole French, "Oh Mom" and "Le Bon Manger," a celebration of South Louisiana cuisine–gumbo, crawfish, shrimp, rabbit, couche couche–the song lists a couple dozen examples of food that's good eating.

The Rounder CD notes give Sid Williams, (337) 235-0647, as the management contact for the band, and Concerted Efforts, (617) 969-0810, as the booking agent.

Click here for a few more pictures of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas take at Downtown Alive! in Lafayette.

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All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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