By Paul Tamuburello
Yvette Landry had a coming out party last night. The Yvette that’s been on slow boil for about eight years, creating her singing voice, her stage persona, her style, got stoked to a full rolling boil tonight. She has sung with lots of really great musicians and been part of shows with lots of other fine voices.
She’s always sung with whatever the song called for, tender Cajun ballads and frisky two steps, classic country, Americana, dyed in the wool rock ‘n roll, a touch of rockabilly, and classic swamp pop.
A couple of years ago, Yvette’s teaming up with Roddie Romero and his band to create The Jukes sparked a transformation. Roddie Romero, guitar; Eric Adcock, keyboards; Chris French, standup bass; Beau Thomas, fiddle; Derek Huston, saxophone; and Gary Usie, drums, can light up any stage with the best of them.
When they play together as The Jukes, the stage all but ignites….and they are decidedly Yvette’s band.
“This group met at 4 PM for a sound check. We've played together at different times but not on the same stage. What ever you hear tonight is going to be the first time we’ve done it together,” she says.
You could’ve fooled us. What ensued was full-bore heavenly music that traversed genres from one end of the rainbow to the other, swamp pop in one pot of gold and southwest Louisiana rock 'n roll dating from the 1950's and 60's in the other.
The sense of occasion is not lost on the band. Born and raised in Breaux Bridge, Yvette has an ardent following. Playing to this particular audience, they were damn well going to pull out all the stops. The solos from Roddie Romero, Eric Adcock, Chris French, Beau Thomas, Derek Huston, and Gary Usie, can always mesmerize with sheer talent. Tonight they dug in to deliver inventive, inspired musicianship that all but levitated the Whirlybird and at its peak sprinkled us with rapturous fairy dust.
The Jukes sang every song from their new album and a bunch of rock and country classics, including Yvette's rowdy rock 'n roll-y “Do Anything But Stay Offa My Cowboy Boots.” When Yvette and Roddie launched into Swamp Pop, Louisiana’s gift to the American songbook, the thermal capacity pegged the meter on the compact Whirlybird's dance floor.
If the seven stars of the Pleiades were to form a band, Yvette Landry would be its most luminous. Tonight, in the hothouse August atmosphere inside The Whirlybird, she sang from a deep place in her core that I’ve never heard before.
I said as much as she signed the cover of “Louisiana Lovin’” after the show.
“I didn’t have to play guitar that much, it gave me time to let it all come through my voice,” she says after the show. Oh, yes.
Yvette has always had a streak of Loretta Lynn in her. Tonight she unleashed her inner Wanda Jackson. She went from singin’ pretty to singin’ gritty.
Roddie and tonight’s band were the gasoline. Yvette was the match. To my ears, this was a defining career moment, a voice and a presence whose depth that quite possibly took her by surprise, a new benchmark from raw, to raucous, to lyrical, to lonesome and back again. She’s never gonna’ be the same. And that’s a good thing.