Gator Beat, a six-member Cajun/Zydeco and New Orleans R&B band have an unusual history. While its members hail from all parts of the globe, they were brought together by Louisiana native, Richie Domingue, who started the band in California 20 years ago. As a historian, deeply in love with his culture, he took great pains to uncover the masters and assemble a complete library of this music tradition. From this, he passed on a rich understanding of the form. In addition, he was a prolific songwriter. Following his passing in 2005, the group inherited a rich body of original material. (They were also a major creating contributor.)
The band attracted top talent to continue its evolution and as of today, have emulsified into this incredible, magical combination that cannot be duplicated, it is so powerful and authentic.
AND THE BAND MEMBERS ARE:
Bruce Gordon: accordion and keyboards
After growing up in Washington DC in the sixties, this stellar musician studied jazz at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, earning a degree in music. He made his way to the Bay Area, in search of Zydeco musicians after hearing Clifton Chenier and Queen Ida’s music. Inspired by the unique sound, he founded the Zydeco Flames and participated in their success for fifteen years. His vast experience on piano adds Louisiana funk, blues, and Mardi Gras mainstays to the Gator Beat sound. Look out!
Beau Bradbury: Drums
It all makes sense when the next generation shows up with as much enthusiasm as the old guard. It’s even better when they show up with the Louisiana roots rhythms running through their veins. That’s the case with Beau. His mama traveled to California from New Iberia, La, in the ’70s, married a man from LA, and around the time Beau was born, he began attending Gator Beat gigs. He showed tremendous talent early on when he started university in Santa Cruz as a music major. He’s about to graduate. Way to go Beau.
David Scott: saxophone, pennywhistle, percussion
A native of Australia, David, at the age of fifteen, boarded a ship headed for New Caledonia as a musician playing Jazz. He settled for ten years in Tahiti, playing island music, jazz, and rock, and becoming fluent in French. He loved the fast dance tempos and when he sat in with Gator Beat in 1990, his fate was sealed. He has interwoven the horn with the accordion in an unprecedented style, unique to the world of zydeco.
Willard Blackwell: vocals, washboard
Willard played drums and sang with the Gator Beat for 9 years, taking a break to obtain his Master’s Degree.
He has returned, now on the frontline, and will be a strong force on vocals while he gets his feet moving and his washboard chops synchronized. He has roots in Louisiana so he should take to it naturally. Beginning in 1976 through 1983 Willard fronted his own band, Souler Heat and by 1992 played with The Cool tones, Big Brother and the Holding Co. and Peter Tork from the Monkeys. And then it was Zydeco! He loves the rhythms and the audiences.
Randy Quan: guitar
Randy has been the featured guitarist with Booker T. Jones since 1997. His distinctive guitar stylings have taken him from touring with blues legend Billy Boy Arnold to performing with and co-producing two albums for renowned alto saxophonist Michael Bolivar. Randy started playing trumpet at the age of 8 in school bands. He picked up his brother’s guitar at the age of 12 and has been playing ever since. Quan is fluent in blues, R&B, and jazz and is an award-winning songwriter. His tasteful style of economy and sweet sound colors are a compliment to the Gator Beat repertoire.
Linda Hutchinson: bass
Linda was one of the original band members and helped craft the Gator Beat sound for nine years before breaking to play with all kinds of different groups. She has earned her place as one of Sonoma County’s most respected bass players. We are overjoyed to have her back again, contributing her hard working ethics and diligence and proving beyond a doubt that she is indeed, The Mighty Sparrow.
Richie Domingue: Original Bandleader, Vocals, Keyboards, Accordion, Songwriter
June 7, 1947 – July 3, 2005
From Lafayette, Louisiana, this Ragin’ Cajun’s heart and soul marks the distinctive style of Gator Beat. Above Richie’s talent as a performer lies the secret to Gator Beat’s unique sound – Richard’s songwriting. He created four C.D.’s, all vintage Richie. Band members will present the Gator Beat repertoire as only they can, have been major contributors to the development of Richie’s vision. At the same time, Gator Beat continues to evolve and incorporate the extraordinary talents of the current lineup. Gator Beat is more than a band, it is a tribe, and you are all invited to be a part of it.