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Gator Gumbo Seeks Source

Charlotte quintet visits Louisiana to study roots

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The Immersion Technique -- it's a staple of linguistics, and since music's just another language, there's no better way to hone your chops than to study with a master or two on their home turf. That's what the local Cajun quintet Carolina Gator Gumbo had in mind when, with help from an Arts & Science Council grant, they visited and studied with Zydeco/Cajun/Creole players in Louisiana in October.

Don Cowan (guitar) and Jean Prewitt (accordian/lead vocals), co-founders of the decade-old Charlotte band, along with Carole Outwater (bass), Beth Brown Al Rawi (fiddle/vocals) and Dave Conlin (percussion), spent the better part of their eight-day stay in Louisiana in Lafeyette and Eunice, two hotbeds for their chosen music.

There they played with a host of musicians, including, among others, 89-year-old Bois Sec Ardoin, a button accordionist and descendent of Amede Ardoin, credited with creating the Cajun accordion style, and D'Jalma Garnier, a fiddler who studied with Canray Fontenot, considered the last of the great Creole and Cajun pre-Zydeco fiddlers.

The band set up some shows in advance, while others were more informal affairs, local musicians showing up just to get a chance to play with the out-of-towners.

"That part of the world is so amazing," says Cowan. "There are people that we've known a little bit, really good musicians, that, say, found out that we were going to jam at Nick's Restaurant on Tuesday night for instance, and so they came out, too, a little All-Star jam, and they just came because we were there -- that's just the giving nature of those people and how open they are to sharing their culture and music."

So what did the band learn after a week of deep immersion in the roots of their music?

"It's opened a lot of doors in terms of how the different parts of the band fit together in the music and, a really nice thing, affirmed that we were on a pretty good track with it already," says Cowan. "It gave us a boost and some motivation to continue on that track, and gave us some of the pieces of the puzzle that'll make it a more complete picture. It did affirm that we can pursue this music and represent it well."

Down at the ol' Cartel
The Greater Charlotte Entertainment Cartel continues its march forward, having recently nominated the following folks to its 2004-05 Board of Directors: William Bray (Bray Law), Melissa Crosby (On Tour booking/talent), Robert Feldman (Klyties Film), Burt Hesse (Indievision), Jim Jervis (Charlotte Blues Society), Noah Lazes (Ark Management), Laila Macs (KATzCity), Bruce McKagen (Muzak), Colleen Millsap (Charlotte Bobcats), Chuck Morrison (MoRisen Records), Don Rosenberg (Record Exchange), Scott Slagle (Asylum Studio) and Bill Walker (Media Evolved).

The group's first order of business will be putting in place the bylaws and procedures to establish their status as a non-profit organization, and establishing a dues structure and sponsorships to fund the administration. In case you're wondering what the hell this is all about, head over to www.charlottemedia.org for more information.

Three-dot lounge...
Local label MoRisen continues making news after landing three of their bands (Elevator Action, the Talk, Snatches of Pink) on the cover of the CMJ Alert during the recent the 2004 Music Marathon: The Talk are in Athens, GA, working with producer Brian Paulson (Superchunk, Wilco) on their third record; the new one from Snatches of Pink, Stag, is already in the can and due out early 2005; and Marat heads into Hoboken, NJ's Water Music studio to begin their next recording with John Agnello (Mark Lanegan, Dinosaur Jr.) at the controls...Bellglide has added management, bringing aboard Allan Tepper and his 25-years-plus in the business, including stints at Warner/Chapell Music and MPL Communications (Paul McCartney); you can also catch the band's opening slot in front of Concrete Blonde (recorded Oct. 15 at Cat's Cradle) on emusiclive.com...In our last Hometown Lowdown, while mentioning New Year's Eve gigs, we neglected to mention Cast Iron Filter's at the Visulite, which was, well, not nice. Go to www.visulite.com for more info or stop by the band's website...

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