Galveston band’s latest album pays tribute to Godfather of Cajun music
The Texas Gulf Coast is a mixture of flavors, cultures and music — and that’s just the way Kevin Anthony & G-Town like it.
The island-based Texas Cajun band thrives off the blending of cultures that intersect in Galveston.
“We have an amazing mix of cultures and food and art and music,” Kevin Anthony said. “We have so much great stuff here on the Gulf Coast.”
Anthony leads the band with vocals and plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar.
This interest in blended cultures is one of the reasons for the band’s latest album, “Eh Ha Ha.”
The album is a tribute to the music of Harry Choates, a songwriter known as the Godfather of Cajun music.
Choates only lived to age 28 and died in 1951, but his influence on musicians at the time was strong, Anthony said.
“He was an amazing musician,” Anthony said. “He never really got the respect that he deserved during his lifetime.”
Kevin Anthony & G-Town in October released “Eh Ha Ha” after years of research on Choates and his music.
Born in Louisiana, Choates grew up in Port Arthur and spent years recording his music in Houston, much of it under the Gold Star Records label, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
The label is now known as SugarHill Recording Studio, which has recorded artists such as Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones and Beyoncé.
Choates never left the Texas and Louisiana area, though he got offers to play at venues like the Grand Ole Opry.
“He’d never take them,” said Christopher Smith Gonzalez, who plays stand-up bass for Kevin Anthony & G-Town.
Choates died in a jail in Austin in 1951, likely from alcoholism-related effects, according to the historical association.
In March, Kevin Anthony & G-Town recorded the “Eh Ha Ha” album, named for the Cajun song cry Choates was famous for, in the same building where Choates recorded many of his songs.
The band took a lot of time researching Choates’ music to ensure they were getting the notes and the beats right, and to understand the context behind each song, Smith Gonzalez said.
Even before this project, the band was influenced by Choates’ music, Anthony said.
The band formed in about 2012, often playing its own music for 45 minutes before opening the set up to open mic in hopes of drawing in people, Anthony said.
Also in the band are Dwight Wolf, who plays guitar and sings; Jim Hall, who plays steel guitar; and Nicole Mendell and Joel Mora on the drums.
Anthony had been playing blended Cajun music for years before he moved to Galveston, he said. When Anthony lived in New York City, he sought out bluegrass jam sessions and often traveled to New Orleans to play with musicians he admired, he said. In Minneapolis, he played in a band that had the beginnings of what G-Town is playing, he said.
Smith Gonzalez played in a few bands in the Hill Country before he moved to Galveston, he said.
But this style draws from a variety of cultural influences, Smith Gonzalez said.
“It’s really fun to play from all these different genres,” Smith Gonzalez said.
The band doesn’t fit into a specific style of music, he said. It’s not really a country band. It doesn’t play strictly Cajun music. And there are many other influences it pulls from, he said.
“Being able to pull from everything just feels more natural,” Smith Gonzalez said.
But that’s reflective of Galveston itself, he said.
“At any given time, when you’re outside, you can hear Tejano music, you can hear Cajun music. You can hear country music, swing, blues,” Smith Gonzalez said.