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Sounds Local

Sounds Local: A touch more hot sauce

The competition dance show ?Dancing with the Stars? is one of the most popular shows on television, proving that people just love watching other people dance. But instead of just watching those tangos and waltzes glide across your TV set, you might want to get off that couch and consider doing some dancing yourself. It?s been proven that dancing is an excellent way to keep your mind and body healthy. Dancing can help you lose weight, stay flexible, make friends and reduce stress, not to mention it?s a great way to enjoy music.

If you are in the mood to get moving, you are in luck because the Franklin County-based band, Zydeco Connection has a string of shows coming up beginning this weekend when it returns to the Wendell Full Moon Coffeehouse in Wendell on Saturday, Nov. 16. The evening will begin with an open mic at 7:30 p.m and then Zydeco Connection will play at 8 p.m.

For those of you not familiar with the genre, zydeco music stems from Southwest Louisiana and it blends Cajun music, R&B and blues (although contemporary zydeco incorporates plenty of other genres) and is highly danceable. The music is centered around the accordion and rubboard; the accordion typically plays the melody while the rubboard provides the rhythm and the distinct scraping that helps defines the zydeco sound.

Zydeco Connection, which features Cynthia ?Lil?Cyn? Rose on accordion, Eileen Almeida on vocals and rubboard, Mike Rose on drums, Dave Leblanc on bass and Larry Ochs on guitar, has been keeping area dance floors moving since it formed in 2004. The band routinely plays clubs and festivals throughout western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Rose, the band?s leader and a Greenfield resident, took a trip last month to Lafayette, La., a city that is a mecca of Cajun culture and zydeco music.

?We loved Lafayette! There is music everywhere and it?s so much a part of the culture,? she said. ?It was wonderful to experience the real thing. I got to meet, hear and see some of my heroes on their own turf. And the people everywhere were dancing ?cause that?s what you do to this music. It was great.?

?I didn?t bring back any songs but I surely got a good taste of the culture and where all this music comes from. Added some spicy hot sauce and crawfish to our sound,? added Rose. ?I also picked up a Cajun accordion, which I am loving. It is so different than the piano accordion.?

At the Full Moon Coffeehouse, expect the band to play its usual mix of zesty sounds, which includes Louisiana zydeco, two-steps, waltzes, boogie-woogie and a little bit of swing.

The coffeehouse is a perfect venue to experience Zydeco Connection as it has plenty of room for dancing.

Admission is by sliding scale of $7 to $15. The coffeehouse is located in the old town hall in the center of Wendell. This show is a benefit for the Wendell Fire Department. The open mic for this show is full and will feature Russell Kaback and the Harp Trio. For more information, 978-544-5557 or www.wendellfullmoon.org

Dance classes

While anyone can dance to zydeco music there is actually a formal style of ?zydeco dancing.? If you have attended a zydeco show before, you have likely observed these dancers.

Unlike other styles of dancing, which involve lots of hip swinging, zydeco dance puts the emphasis on a subtle side-to-side weight shift while the upper body remains relatively still. If you are interested in learning this style of dance, head to Dance Northampton on the last Friday of each month for Zydeco Night. What this involves is a zydeco dance lesson with instructor Terri Anderson, followed by a concert and dancing with Zydeco Connection. The cost is $13 and includes the lesson and the concert.

Rose said that Zydeco Night has been a well attended.

?The dances have been going well. It is a beautiful dance space and so much fun to play for the dancers and watching them move around with their special moves and steps to the dances,? said Rose. ?Our music is really dance music so it is special to have the space where people can actually dance. ?

You do not need a partner or previous dance experience to attend. All you need is comfortable footwear and a desire to learn and have fun! Advance registration is not required.

Dance Northampton is conveniently located at 492 Pleasant St. in Northampton.

Just take a left when you get off exit 18 and travel about an 1/8 mile. It is located on your right, directly after the Shell station. What this means is that you do not have to do into downtown Northampton on a Friday night and struggle to find a parking place. Dance Northampton has its own parking lot.

Dance Northampton also offers lessons in many other styles of dancing, including ballroom, swing, salsa and more. Visit www.dancenorthampton.com for more information.

Zydeco Connection will return to Mocha Maya?s, 47 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls, on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. The band says playing at Mocha Maya?s is an ?up-close, in-your-face encounter with Zydeco Connection.? The show is free but tips for performers are welcomed.

Butterfly Swing Band, dance classes return to Arts Block

Last month, we told you about the Butterfly Swing Band, a five-piece band from Brattleboro, Vt., that performs the uplifting swing tunes of the 1920s, ?30s and ?40s. The group performed at the Arts Block at 399 Main St., Greenfield, with the hopes that they would return. The show was a success and the band will be back on Friday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m. There will be a swing dance lesson provided by Emily Fox of Dance Northampton and Greenfield Community College that will begin at 7 p.m. Butterfly Swing Band will take the stage at 8 p.m. The dance lesson is included with the price of admission. Beginners are welcome. You do not need a dance partner but, again, do wear comfortable shoes.

Advance tickets are $7 and are available at www.theartsblock.com. Tickets at the are $10.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com

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