2002: With the release of Zydeco Ballin' at the age of 14, Nathan Williams, Jr.'s first CD, the Williams family joins the other great Zydeco dynasties Ardoin, Broussard, Carrier, Chavis’, Chenier, Delafose and Frank families that have passed on a rich musical legacy to a new generation. Lil' Nathan's father is the leader of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, one of the top Zydeco bands touring across the country. His uncle, Sid Williams, who is serving as manager of his nephew's band, is owner of El Sid O’s in Lafayette, one of the principal venues for Zydeco music, a club where Buckwheat Zydeco used to perform regularly and recorded his last live album. According to Herman Fuselier in his liner notes to Zydeco Ballin, Lil Nathan began playing rubboard in his father’s band at age 5. He moved on to the drums and then the accordion, finding in his father an excellent teacher and role model. At age 14 when the CD was recorded, Lil Nathan demonstrates that he has already mastered all three types of accordions diatonic, triple-row, and piano (he posed with his accordions on the CD cover). The photos on this page, taken at the Zydeco Extravaganza in Lafayette in May 28, 2002, also show that he knows how to establish a stage presence that gets the crowd moving. His father wrote the songs on the CD, ranging from the flowing groove of "Ballin' on Zydeco" and "Where the Zydeco At?" to the nouveau Zydeco beat of "Bounce with It!" to the more traditional waltz rhythms of "Louisiana Boy," sung in English and French.
Lil Nathan has matured into a highly accomplished musician. Like a lot of Zydeco performers, he grew up playing music, surrounded by a musical family, as the son of Nathan Williams, Sr., leader of the Zydeco Cha Chas, nephew of Sid and Dennis Paul Williams and great nephew of the late Harry Hypolite, and with connections through his family to many musicians in the Zydeco community. Lil Nathan was born with musical talent and nourished in a musical environment throughout his childhood. He has now moved beyond his Zydeco upbringing to expand his knowledge at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he is majoring in jazz studies and music media. On CD Doin’ It Big Time, Lil Nathan explains that in college he has “been exposed to chord progressions and different types of music that have influenced me in a lot of ways. I’m open-minded. I’ll listen to anything and make it work.” Instead of directly entering into the traditional rivalry for the claim to be at the top of the Zydeco Mountain, Williams simply tells it like it is: “I’m not saying I’m better than anybody. I’ve just been exposed to some things other people have never been exposed to.” It’s that education combined with his musical background from birth that helps him turn the name of his band, the Zydeco Big Timers, into a CD that delivers on its title by Doin’ It Big Time. Lil Nathan wrote and arranged all of the songs on the CD. Included are several songs close to the Williams family Zydeco roots and a number of songs that branch in new directions such as the lush sound of “Big Timers’ Anthem” and the smooth verdure of “If I.” He also includes lyrics that present a bit of social commentary as in “That L’Argent,” in which, in both English and French he describes our obsession with money. In songs like “My Sqeezebox,” he gives us a great contemporary Zydeco dance groove. In “We’re Going to the Zydeco,” he manages to include the names of dozens of Zydeco venues from Lafayette to New Orleans. “Louisiana Is Zydeco Country” is a celebration of the culture that nourishes the music. “Charge it to the Game” is about learning from experience, with a second remixed version as the last cut on the CD, for a total of 15 cuts. By the end of the CD, listeners will agree that, as Lil Nathan announces in the opening title cut, “We’re Doin’ it Big Time.” Other band members included on the CD are cousin, Isiah “Sanchez” Williams on rubboard, uncle Dennis Paul Williams on lead guitar, Jesse Duplechin rhythm guitar, Michael” Mike” Broussard on bass guitar, younger brother Naylan Michael Williams on drums & rubboard (depending on the venue or song) and Brandon “B-Mill” Miller, also on drums and introducing our newest member, Broderick "B-Roc" Freeman on keyboard, a wonderful addition to the family.
2009: Lil Nathan crossed a new milestone with the release of his third CD entitled: THE AUTONOMOUS-Fit for Survival, debuting late spring of 2009. He is now a Post-Graduate at the University Of Louisiana at Lafayette and is enrolled in the Alternative Teacher's Certification Program-Choral Music Emphasis. He received his Bachelor's at UL-Lafayette in the spring of 2008. He's still leaning strongly towards University of Texas-Austin or UL-Lafayette to receive his MA in Jazz Performance or Theory Comp with Jazz Emphasis, with that being said he wants to incorporate Zydeco music on the High School and College Level.
His fourth CD “Deceived, Degraded, But Not Destroyed was released November 5, 2010 at the 13th Annual Step N Strut Trailride, selling over 700 copies. This compilation of songs truly lets off a style of compassion, understanding and love of one’s fellow man, telling stories of lies, truth, and deception.
His fifth CD entitled “Live at 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival” brings to life the ongoing attention the crowds continue to receive from the Big Timers. Reclaiming the love of old and adding to the new, Lil Nate wows his audiences over and over again.
The Big Timer Band is currently awaiting the release of album number six--"Big Timer Nation...Go Hard or Go Home" and have already allowed the fans to sample "Tell me", a fiya track being played all over the states of Louisiana & Texas and most recently Innovator remix with well known rapper Level along with Go Hard or Go Home featuring local favorite Kevin Gates.
Lil Nate, as he is so easily called, has enthralled many a crowd with his unique style of performing on stage. While performing at the 2011 Zydeco Music Awards, January 21, hosted by Lloyd Mitchell and Cedric Jackson, he was captured mid air doing his famous push-ups on stage by local photographer Cherie Richard. He climbs 15 feet on speakers, giving his fans a show they return to see week after week.
Other accomplishments of Lil Nathan & The Zydeco Big Timers include Best of the Beat Music Awards by Offbeat Magazine nominations for 2010 Best Zydeco Artist & Best Zydeco Album. The Big Easy Awards nominated for Best Zydeco Band. This month they were given the opportunity to shoot a commercial for The Louisiana Travel & Tourism Commission in Houma, LA. As well as being featured in The New York Times as one of the most popular bands on the scene. KBON 101.1 FM along with local television Swamp N Roll show hosted by Todd Ortego & Brian “Lil Buck” Burge, son of the late “Dr. Feelgood” Joe Burge has invited the band to perform on several occasions. You can view the archives on the World Wide Web at KDCG Opelousas-Lafayette.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of witnessing Lil Nathan & The Zydeco Big Timers perform, then I suggest you get on the Zydeco Band Wagon soon.
Adding to the words of Herman Fuselier, can you appreciate the love I have for my Big Timers?