You can call him “Mr. Excitement,” because, well, that’s the moniker Patrick Henry has earned with some 40 years in the music business fronting the Liberation Band.
Henry's soulful vocals and dazzling dance moves have kept crowds grinning and grooving in St. Landry parish, where zydeco was born.
“I like the flavor that it brings,” Henry said of rhythm and blues music. “I like zydeco, too. But I like R&B because you’ve got more dynamics. With the zydeco thing, you’ve got to stay on a straight run.
“But me? I like to get off of the road. I like to do all kind of dynamics,” he said.
Henry said he initially picked up some dynamic tips from James Brown, followed by Prince and Michael Jackson. If you’ve ever seen Henry and company in a performance, you can tell his studying paid off.
“All that’s strictly dynamics,” Henry said. “I listened to Otis Redding for the hard-down singing. That’s what he taught me. James Brown, Prince, Michael Jackson, they showed me high energy.
“And you put that together, it’s hard to stop. It’s hard to beat.”
The band will open the spring Music & Market concert series at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Le Vieux Village/Farmers Market Pavilion, located in the Opelousas Tourist Center at 828 E. Landry St.
The free concert series pairs bands with vegetables from local farmers; Henry's show is accompanied by mustard greens.
“He’s one of our favorites. People love Patrick Henry,” said Patrice Melnick, tourism specialist for Opelousas. “He’s got high energy and is a wonderful performer. It’s a great way to start off the season."
Other bands include in the Music & Market series include Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas on Friday, April 28, and a finale from La Recolte on May 19.
Melnick said there’s rhyme and reason behind the Music & Market lineup.
“We wanted it to be a good representation of our part of Louisiana. It’s some of the best music around,” Melnick said. “We wanted all the music to be danceable. And, basically, provide the best music available in the area and show the variety.”
Henry, a native of Sunset, has opened for The Emotions, Johnny Taylor, Bobby Blue Bland, Kool & The Gang and the Pointer Sisters, as well as area zydeco bands. He has also been recognized by the community with various awards for his contributions to St. Landry Parish.
“I play numerous times in front of my hometown,” Henry said. "They (still) think they know what I’m going to do or what the band is going to do. But they don’t know. It’s always something new.
“It’s something you can watch, not just the front line, not just me, but all across the bandstand,” Henry said. “I mean, you’ve got a hot drummer. A hot keyboard. You got a hot bass. You got the whole nine yards.”
Henry tailors shows for outdoor gigs where all ages are present; they’re a little different from the club shows, where he takes it to another level.
“I call it ‘Go to left field,’ ” Henry said. “A lot of things I do in the club, I can’t take it to an outdoor show when you have little kids because they wouldn’t understand where I’m coming from, so we try to feel them out. We keep it clean. Keep it positive. Keep it exciting."
Wherever he’s performing, Henry said he has a go-to source to keep on doing what he does.
“What keeps me going? My heavenly father,” Henry said. “I’m smoke free. I might get a little drink now and then. And as of now, I’m under no medication.
“I say three prayers a day,” he added. “So I’m good with that.”
Music & Market Spring 2017 schedule
Events run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Music begins at 6 p.m. All concerts will be held at Le Vieux Village in Opelousas, unless otherwise noted. The concerts are free and family-friendly.
Friday: Patrick Henry & the Liberation Band, mustard greens
April 28: Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, pralines; this concert is dubbed the downtown edition and will take place in the Courthouse Square
May 5: Rusty Metoyer & the Zydeco Krush, turnips
May 12: The August Heat Band, cucumber
May 19: La Recolte, squash
Get more information at cityofopelousas.com/music-market.