Yankee Zydeco Company
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Yankee Zydeco Company


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"Bands to Watch: Yankee Zydeco Company"

Most rock bands playing in hot, crowded clubs break into beads of sweat. Yankee Zydeco Company breaks out the beads and gives them away, no sweat. When you play upbeat, danceable zydeco music, you must play bead toss -- it's Louisiana law.

Ask Mark Mang, accordion player and guiding force behind the six-person band. He ordered 35 pounds of beads from Baton Rouge for Yankee Zydeco Company's debut show at Docksider on Friday. He's ready to fling away while the band launches into originals and covers such zydeco masters as Boozoo Chavez and Clifton Chenier.

"It's fun. It fires up the crowd and brings up the energy a little more,"Mang said. "It just pulls your audience into the stage performance that much more. It's fun for someone to take that home with them --'I got this at a zydeco show at the Docksider!'"

Mang learned there's just one slight hitch to bead tossing. Fans have to seethem in order to catch them.

"I found out the hard way, you need lights in the room," Mang said. "We played an outdoor party and yelled, 'Here are some beads!' As soon as they went over their heads, they couldn't see them. They were gone into the yard."

Mang wanted a zydeco band in his own backyard, northwestern Pennsylvania, instead of waiting for Terrance Simien's annual visit or the Great Blue Heron festival.

"Every once in a while you see a zydeco band come in here, and they pack places," he said. "People around here know zydeco. This area has no zydeco bands, so I thought, 'Well, yeah, why not? Let's get the music out there even more.'"

Mang -- who also plays in Tiger Maple String Band -- talked about Yankee Zydeco Company with Showcase.

Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Mark Mang, accordion, vocals; Chris Stanonis, guitar, pedal steel; Daren Allen, guitar; Steve Powell, drums; Ryan Bartosek, bass; Tania Klemm, rub board.

Mang took accordion lessons, but didn't really get into zydeco until he saw Buckwheat Zydeco at the first Grape Jam and later Preston Frank at the Great Blue Heron.

He also listens online to KBON, a Louisiana zydeco station. He started the group last November, but didn't kick into high gear until after he attended an old-time music festival in Mt. Airy, N.C., last spring. There, he sat in with a couple noted Cajun accordion players.

"I sat in the dance tent until 2 a.m., playing an informal acoustic jam and lit it up for the first time ever," Mang said. "They were super happy with what I was playing and the style and keeping it traditional. I wasn't trying to be too showboaty. That gave me the confidence to start pushing it with Yankee Zydeco Company."

He found musicians equally committed to zydeco, including former Cosmic Squeeze bassist Ryan Bartosek. The goal: Play zydeco so well it'd make a Louisiana native smile.

"I don't want to be ashamed if we're playing in front of someone who's from Louisiana, or be like some hoser band," Mang said.

Zydeco, a spirited, accordion-fueled music, which fuses R&B and soul with Creole dance music from southwestern Louisiana.

Originals and songs by zydeco masters such as Boozoo Chavis, Preston Frank, Clifton Chenier, and John Delafose.

"Tullio Center, 1988. Kiss, Winger, and Slaughter,"Mang said. "A lot of lasers, a lot of smoke. For an eighth-grader, it was flashy. It was good."

"I'd hate to say Terrance Simien at Docksider in August," Mang said. "I didn't catch any beads; I was trying to behave. I was on the second deck, trying to soak it in. When you go and watch another accordion player, you have a good time, but I'm also watching the fingers and what he's doing. A button-box accordionist to come to Erie -- that's few and far between."

Though originals such as "Bada Bing" and "Born in the Country," go over well, Mang said the traditional "Hot Tamale Baby"always gets people dancing. "I've heard a lot of people do it," he said. "It's upbeat. We get a real good response from that one."

Not yet but the band plans to eventually record.


Yankee Zydeco Company with Lori Burke, Liz Mang on Friday at 10 p.m. at Docksider, 1015 State St. Admission is $1.
- Erie Times News - October 27th, 2005


Zydeco Party - Local Radio
88.9FM WXCS Cambridge Springs,PA
91.3 WQLN (NPR) Erie, PA
103.1 WQFX Jamestown, NY



Yankee Zydeco Company dedicates them to bringing their traditional blend of Zydeco music to audiences across the nation. This diverse type of music keeps the audience on their feet for hours. The band’s influences range from Preston Frank, Clifton Chiner, John Delafosse, Boozoo Chavis, Donna the Buffalo, Buckwheat Zydeco, Terrance Simien, and many others.
Yankee Zydeco Company’s brand of zydeco is highly danceable and performed by a group of very talented musicians. Mark Mang, the bandleader, plays Cajun accordion and sings lead. Chris Stanonis plays lead guitar and pedal steel guitar. Dana Volkman scrubs away on the washboard. Mike Hurley keeps the two-step “heart-beat” alive on the drums. Ryan Bartosek holds down a funky low end on the electric bass. With this combination of musicians, thick and hearty Zydeco music with a dancehall groove flows for hours.
Yankee Zydeco Company’s goal is to provide a professional and upbeat performance. The band strives to bring a little bit of Louisiana culture and heritage to every stage. We play and help audiences form a newfound appreciation and understanding of Zydeco music. Once Yankee Zydeco Company takes the stage and starts to roll, the dancers hit the floor and the party goes all night.
Yankee Zydeco has performed with such bands as Avett Brothers, Donna the Buffalo, Big Leg Emma. We have performed at music festivals like The Great Blue Heron Music Festival and multiple events across the country.