Rockin’ Zydeco music from the UK
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Wendy Roberts (Vocals, Scrubboard):
Wendy Roberts would like to live in a world where we are kinder to our fellow folk, respect each others’ differences, and not get caught with a closed public loo seat !
She has had over 30 years of eclectic musical experience from Live performances to Television, radio and album recordings with :
Prog Rock giant Mike Oldfield, Suzie Quatro
Blues singer/guitarist Stan Webb of Stan Webbs Chicken Shack
Soul Legends Martha Reeves, Junior Walker, Little Eva, Booker Newberry and Edwin Starr to name but a few.
Perhaps one of the best Highlights of her career was when Richard Carpenter described her ‘Tribute to the Carpenters’ show as “Very accurate, beautifully sung and very flattering !” A feather in the show’s cap that led to subsequent tours here and overseas, including a sell out show at the London Palladium.
Wendy is new to performing Zydeco music but has always loved the sound and was delighted when she was asked to join Et Toi. She lost her partner recently who was a big fan of the music so is familiar with quite a few of the songs and hopes with serendipity on her side, she can rise to the challenge and do it some justice!
When she is not singing, Wendy can be found halfway up a ladder wielding a paint brush and getting involved with her second passion which is painting interiors in her home town of Leigh on sea.
Rob James (Vocals, Guitar):
Rob started playing electric guitar in school bands, initially playing old rock ‘n’ roll songs by Chuck Berry etc. This early influence was soon replaced though by an interest in guitarists that mixed the rock and jazz genres – Larry Carlton is still a favourite.
First professional band gigs were with a Funk band called 5 a.m. playing the pub and club circuit in East Anglia. It was during this period that Rob became exposed to and fell in live with the Classical Guitar. Thus began a 10-year interlude during which Rob studied guitar with Bob Dresner and Patrick Bashford before playing many recitals and gigs around the U.K. and recording classical guitar on sessions for a local recording studio and Mayhew-McCrimmon music.
Then followed a new electric guitar playing period with The Business, playing pubs and clubs in the South of England and London. Whilst playing with the Business, Rob was taken by the tenor Sax playing of Gary Turner and embarked on another period of instrumental education!
When an old friend found out that Rob was now playing electric, nylon string guitar and tenor sax he asked him if he would like to help form one of the UK’s first Tex-Mex bands ‘Lost Amigos’. During this period Rob came across the Tres guitar and learnt how to play Son and other traditional Cuban rhythms on this percussive 3-course guitar. Rob played gigs in the Southeast area with Lost Amigos before the band finally split up (literally) with players moving in all directions – the percussionist moved back to Cuba!
The next guitar to get an airing was Rob’s steel strung when Jane Dolby rang him one day and asked if he could help out as guitarist and musical director for the Fishwives (previously the Fishwives choir). The Fishwives was formed to raise money for the Fisherman’s Mission and to play the wonderful Shanty-based songs that Jane had written for the band and which Rob took part in recording for the album ‘Ocean Bound’.
The Fishwives band included Wendy Roberts, John Spurling and Phil Underwood on accordion and fiddle. When the Fishwives project came to an end, Phil decided that it would be great to keep the band together to play one of his favourite styles of music – Zydeco – in the band Et Toi.
Rob had never heard of Zydeco, but after listening to the many varied styles that contemporary Zydeco bands use, it seemed that Rob’s musical background, which includes: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Jazz, Funk/Dance music, Spanish guitar, Cuban guitar, Tex-Mex, and English folk seems to be, well…perfectly suited.
Andy Jones (Vocals, Drums):
Andy Jones grew up in North Wales as a member of a musical family, where his mother played piano and father sung (and indeed still does!) in a Welsh Male Voice choir.
Andy took up playing the drums around the age of 14, and is largely self-taught, save for a few orchestral percussion lessons whilst a member of the school orchestra!
Over the years, Andy has drummed in a huge variety of bands playing all styles of music, from rock & pop ‘cover’ groups (including a Jimi Hendrix tribute outfit), to national touring theatre groups, to traditional jazz and blues bands – and pretty much everything else in between!
In the early 2000s, Andy played in a previous (and very successful) band of Phil’s, namely the Zyderythmics, and he is looking forward to once again playing Cajun and Zydeco.
John (Spud) Spurling (Vocals, Bass):
Spud doesn’t like to talk about his many achievements, preferring to let his playing speak for itself.
We do know he is is a bass player par excellence, having been a member of Southend stars Sadie’s Expression and is currently in The Revival Band.
Can’t think of much else really.
Oh, yes, nearly forgot – he played bass for Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.
Phil Underwood (Vocals, Accordion, Fiddle):
Band Leader Phil is dedicated to producing the best Cajun and Zydeco music this side of the Louisiana swamps.
From a respected folk music and theatrical family on the Isle of Wight Phil has played folk/roots music since he was 16.
He discovered Cajun and Zydeco music in 1990 and was hooked. His first band was the mighty Ti-Fer Cajun Band; since then he has created several great lineups, La La Zydeco, ZigaZag Cajun Band, Kajun Krewe, The Zyderythmics, The Creole Brothers, Colin and the Crawfish, The EuroCajun Allstars, The Miri-Kools and now Et Toi!
He has appeared with many Cajun and Zydeco greats, including Eddie LeJeune, Leo Abshire, Leroy Thomas, The Creole Zydeco Farmers, Chubby Carriere, Dennis Stroughmatt, Jesse Lege – and Grammy nominees Joel Savoy, Lisa Haley and the Zydekats and at last years Gloucester Festival – David Greely.
He has also played Cajun and Creole accordion onstage with comedian and musician Bill Bailey at Wembley Arena and appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and Songs of Praise with the Fishwives shanty choir.