by Herman Fuselier
Greg Gordon has spent 45 years on stage and is still a young man. Barely in grade school when he started drumming in front of an audience, Gordon has since played in more than 30 countries, stretching from Brazil to the Ivory Coast.
His travel resume includes appearances on “CBS This Morning,” “The Jon Stewart Show,” “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” and a seven-year gig entertaining visitors on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Despite his international reach, Gordon remained a musical stranger. Fans cheered Buckwheat Zydeco, C. J. Chenier, Barbara Lynn, Dwayne Dopsie and Roy Head, the Grammy winners and headliners he backed up.
But few knew the name Greg Gordon. The drummer decided 2021 is the year to step out of the shadows with “Resurrection,” his recording debut with his own band, the Greg Gordon Project.
“This is something I thought I never could accomplish,” said Gordon, 56. “It was a big step for me and it’s really going to boost up my career.
“It’s a step up for a drummer and backing up other artists. “I’m looking for bigger things to happen for me.”
“Resurrection” is a 10-song project of funk, R&B, jazz and blues originals and covers featuring singers and musicians from the deep talent pool in his hometown, Lafayette, La. Born into a musical family that became renowned around Lafayette for zydeco and funk, Gordon borrowed his brother’s James Brown-flavored hit from the 1970s, “Double Booty Bump.”
Gordon pays tribute to his longtime friend and band mate, the late zydeco guitar legend Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal, with “Lil Buck Shuffle.” Sharon Thomas, a delivery driver and ex-sheriff’s deputy with Aretha Franklin-level vocals, revives the Joss Stone version of “Some Kind of Wonderful.”
The bass of Lee Allen Zeno, whose recording credits stretch from Buckwheat Zydeco to Solomon Burke to Charlie Rich, glows throughout.
Beats of the French Quarter and second line shine on a cover of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut” and an original, “St. Louis and Bourbon.” Gordon unveils a singing voice and rap talent on the CD’s title cut and Johnny Guitar Watson’s “A Real Mother For Ya.”
Gordon credits Baton Rouge bluesman Larry Garner for encouraging him to show audiences that drummers can sing, too.
“He said I needed to start singing and I took that as real good advice,” said Gordon. “The first time I really tried it, I was kind of nervous. I knew I could sing, but I never tried to sing and play my drums at the same time.
“Once I did it a few times, I said ‘I can do this.’ I put all my faith in God and asked him to lead me through it. Now I’m singing.”
Gordon enters a new chapter of his career with family memories still close to his heart. His father George’s band, Lil Gordon and the Rockin’ Kings, shared small town club stages with Little Richard, Fats Domino and Gatemouth Brown before they became famous names.
His brother’s band, Russell Gordon and Bayou Zydeco, created a bilingual hit, “Creole Man,” which has been covered in recent years.
Greg learned drumming for his older brother, Robert Clifford Gordon. He inherited the drum set when Robert passed away.
Greg remembers family and the legends he backed up as he strives to put his name on the marquee with “Resurrection.”
“I was around music all the time. I had to pick up something, play at least one instrument. For me, that was the drums.
“I came up listening to the pioneers. The young guys should study the pioneers and learn where it started. That would take their careers a lot further.”
(Herman Fuselier is a writer and broadcaster living in Opelousas, La. His Zydeco Stomp airs 12-3 p.m. Central time Saturdays on KRVS 88.7 FM and www.krvs.org.)