What an incredible journey it's been! From the humblest beginnings in 1996,
The BluesBox Bayou Band has been on a road of discovery for over fifteen years.
Performing in the Louisiana tradition, they have performed up and down the west coast from Oregon to Southern Cal and have recorded over five studio CDs. The BluesBox Bayou Band is about making music for your feet, no pretenses, no big hair, no spandex pants… just a down home approach to making good music.
In the late 70's, Clifton Chenier traveled to California to introduce everybody to "zydeco music" as he had called it. He would tour college towns and when in Berkeley he famously performed at a local dance hall known as the Ashkenaz. At the same time, Queen Ida became popular as the "Queen of Zydeco." Ida's family roots were originally from Creole country, but many were swept to California by the large migration of Louisiannes' to the Bay Area to work the oil refineries of Richmond. Out here they created a community. A cultural seed was planted that still grows today. Although Clifton Chenier has long passed away, and Queen Ida makes only rare appearances, west coast dance halls continue to host generations of Creole and Cajun players. Our state now has a growing population of zydeco music lovers and seriously fun dance fanatics. Likewise, this phenomena has spawned an exclusive group of regional roots musicians and torch bearers of the Louisiana way that proudly includes the BluesBox Bayou Band.
THE BLUES BOX BAYOU BAND was founded by singer-songwriter Pete Grimaldi who has created a unique sound of American Roots Music that unites influences from Lousiana Swamp Boogie, Cajun, Zydeco, Blues, and Reggae. This popular band performs classic Louisiana tunes along with original material, written by band leader Pete Grimaldi. What comes to life is a dance party celebration of Louisiana culture with heartfelt lyrics, beautiful melodies, an infectious rhythm, solid guitar riffs, and harmonious back-up vocals.
PETE GRIMALDI / ACCORDION, MANDOLIN, VOCALS , SONGWRITER
Achieving a 2009 Great American Song Award for 'Family Bayou', Pete started by purchasing a "pawned accordion" in 1994. A large, awkward black box, weighted with bellows and keys. He was hooked by hammering out simple three bar blues. The Blues Box name originated from that idea. The 'Bayou' was added as the sound got deeper into the swamp and with the help of great band mates along the way he cultivated The BluesBox Bayou Band.
Road trips through Louisiana were the best of times and inspired the band's commitment to the genre. Rare opportunities to play along with and witness great zydeco musicians and socializing at the legendary Acadian dance halls of central Louisiana, opened eyes and ears to the unique cultural environment in and around Lafayette. In Louisiana, music, bands, dancing and festivals are all part of everyday life. Returning from that experience, Pete and the band would never approach music the same way again. Longtime follower of the blues and roots movement, performers such as Buckwheat Zydeco and the Texas Tornadoes were already big influences. But living and breathing a bit of Louisiana would have a big impact on the Bluesbox style that would take their fans on a dance ride like no other this far from New Orleans. An all-American zydeco road show called The BluesBox Bayou Band. Who knew they would be following Clifton to the Ashkenaz stage some thirty years later?
JULIE JOHNSON / BASS GUITAR, VOCALS
Julie joined the band in 2001 and contributed to the breakthrough Cajun-Zydeco dance vibe on, BIG FUN. Steady as a rock on her bass riffs, Julie keeps the band on a steady dance course. She executes the double pumps and rhythm shifts of Cajun as any natural born player. Her background in folk and her history of playing bluegrass and ensemble music is a gift to the band. Her outgoing, warm and friendly demeanor belies her power on bass guitar and strong definitive sound. Dancers respond to her bass riffs as much as they do the dance floor beneath their feet. Julie is a teacher by day, but when fans see that petite little lady with her famous brimmed hat make her way on stage, they know "The BuesBox Bayou Band" is ready to roll!
FRANK GRIMALDI / GUITARIST, VOCALS
Frank joined the band in 2004. Guitars are his life; just ask him. He has been a devoted player for 40 years, and a survivor of the bar band circuit and dance clubs of the Mother Lode. Frank loves to play music wherever and whenever, and the zydeco attitude fits him like a fine suit. Since his first visit to Louisiana, Frank travels to Opelousas every year for cracklin's, beer, and the Southwest Zydeco life style where he manages to mix with all the great zydeco players. His appreciation for Louisiana music, food and spirit made him the perfect guitar man for the band. His ever present guitar rhythms knit the band together and his skilled solo work are an exclamation to every song.
DEBI KRILANOVICH / RUB-BOARD
Many California zydeco fans will remember Debi's husband, the late, great Brian Krilanovich, fiddle player for Crawdaddy and (too briefly) for The BluesBox Bayou Band. Debi has carried on Brian's great musical tradition with her joyful pursuit of the rub-board and Cajun percussions. Also a teacher by day, she lives in the Santa Cruz hills. By weekend, Debi's rub-board rescue service hits the road to join The BBBB's live sound and off-road adventures.
PETER DEMATTOS / DRUMS
Pete is a multi-talented musician who has played drums passionately for over twenty years. Formally trained on brass band instruments, Pete has the natural talent to keep a pocket groove with a strong kick and tight snap needed for a crisp sounding zydeco rhythm section. It is not surprising that he is Big Pete and Frank's nephew. His style works effortlessly! A founding member of The BluesBox Bayou Band, Pete has found time and the stamina between traveling for his contracting firm and playing the zydeco dance circuit.
JIM HILDRETH / RUB-BOARD
Better known as "Little Jimmy" he is a past resident of Opelousas, La. and has had the opportunity to rub with many of the best in zydeco. Jim is most responsible for the bands past travels out to Lafayette and has always been a booster of Louisiana culture. His love for the rub board and zydeco music is very apparent with the intensity he puts forth in every performance. Jim spends most of his time in business and traveling the Tuolumne hills but is often out on the road with his rub-board and joins The BBBB whenever he can.
GARY "GATOR" MENDES / CONGAS AND PERCUSSION
Another veteran of the clubs and venues throughout the Motherlode, Gary has recorded with the band and joins them for special occasions as conga percussionist and willing accomplice.
MARK KATTERHEINRICH / STAGE MANAGER AND VENUE LIAISON
Hardest working member and good friend, Mark keeps the band operating and musician egos under control. The BBBB couldn't do this without him.