Charlie Wooton was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, with his four older brothers, who were all exceptional musicians, including Dr. John Wooton, head of percussion at USM. As a teen, music was Charlie’s life; studying Classical and Jazz during the day, then playing gigs at night with his brother David, or Bobby Brooks, or spending 6 straight hours playing Zydeco at the LaLa with Grammy winner Chubby Carrier. Charlie soaked it all in, learning how to put on a show, manage a business, and continue to hone his craft.
At 20 years of age, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a sound engineer at 3rd Encore Studios. It was there he met and played with Kim Stone, bassist for Spyro Gyro, who gave Charlie his signature blue bass. Soon, Charlie felt it was time to move back to the south, and make Atlanta home. Getting back to his Louisiana roots, Charlie formed Zydefunk. This energetic cross-pollinated band took Atlanta by storm, playing sold-out gigs and parties all over the Southeast. Zydefunk has even been featured multiple times on CNN. Charlie also began to feature his other influences of jazz, classical, blues and world music with Charlie Wooton Project (CWP). Charlie had the opportunity to play with artists like Count M’Butu, Oliver Wood, Donny McCormick, Sean Costello, Grant Green Jr., Jeff Sipe, Dick Smith, Rev. Jeff Moser, Doug Belote and Willie Green.
In 2010 Charlie moved back to his home state of Louisiana. Since then, he has played with some of the best acts in New Orleans: Bonerama, Sonny Landreth, Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, Cyril Neville, Chief Monk Boudreaux, New Orleans Suspects, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and many more. As a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood for 4 years, Charlie recorded 4 CDs as bassist as well as having written several of RSB’s songs, including one of their biggest hits “Fired Up.”
Charlie has been written up in numerous music publications, nationally and internationally, including Bass Player Magazine and most recently in Bass Player Brazil for the release of ZabaDuo, with Rafael Pereira.
Charlie Wooton Project’s latest endeavor is called Zabadodat featuring world-renowned percussionist Rafael Pereira and Multi-Platinum recording guitarist Daniel Groover, featuring the amazing Laura Reed! Charlie has successfully brought in some phenomenal musicians to showcase a lifetime of musical and cultural inspiration.
When not on the road, Charlie is an actively working, sought after and accomplished producer. As much as he loves to play, Charlie equally enjoys making other musician’s dreams come to fruition. This year alone he produced five albums at various studios including The Music Shed as well as his favorite studio in Maurice Louisiana, DOCKSIDE Studios.
When you fall in love … you just do. Gobsmacked. Besotted. The Can’t-Get-Enough kind of love that makes you sign up for life.
That’s how John Babich feels about Zydeco. Yep, Zydeco music. New Orleans and Lafayette, Louisiana music. Creole “double-kicks” that rhythmically lift you out of your chair and funky percussion that tattoos your brain. John Babich and the three other permanent members of the capital’s own Zydeco Zoo are the go-to practitioners when Tallahassee zydeco-addicts can’t make it to the Big Easy.
Babich, who as a kid in Massachusetts was something of a piano child prodigy, had long been a traveling keyboardist with Bill Wharton, The Sauce Boss, spreading the blues from Canada to Europe. He played with other bands, but even as he settled into a Tallahassee web-design job, he couldn’t shake the pounding insistence of country-style Zydeco.
“But I didn’t completely get it until my wife and I started dancing to that beat,” Babich says. “It’s the groove, that relentlessness that just won’t let you sit back down.”
Zydeco isn’t Cajun, Babich explains. Rather it is pure Creole — born from that Louisiana amalgam of black, Indian, French and rural whites who picked up anything they had to make music with. “You’ll see Old World accordions, fiddles, guitars, spoons, bones (probably pieces of rib bones) and the rub board all together.” And the effect is a loud and mesmerizing throb that, at least in Louisiana, will have dancers on their feet for “five and six hours. They can’t sit down!” says Babich.
JB of Zydeco Zoo fame has been playing piano to delighted audiences in Tallahassee for decades. Along with Charlies unique funk style of Zydeco, JB’s style of New Orleans funky time piano is just perfect for our Festival!