ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 19, 1991
By Steve Newton
People initially pick up musical instruments for all kinds of reasons. For singer/accordionist Wayne Toups, it was jealousy of an older brother’s musical abilities that caused him to pick up the multi-buttoned squeeze-box in the first place. But he laughs about that inspiration today.
“He picked up an accordion from my uncle, and he just wanted to fiddle around the house, see if he could play one,” chuckles Toups, on the line from Chico, California. “So he kinda made me a little jealous. But he taught me a coupla songs, and I disciplined myself to love the instrument and make it a challenge.”
As a kid growing up in Crowley, Louisiana, Toups immersed himself in the traditional Cajun music of those parts, playing at dances for an older crowd that grew up with the music. Cajun was definitely a way of life in Crowley, but it wasn’t the only style of music that Toups took in.
“I have a very open ear to music,” says the 32-year-old Toups. “Some of my favourites were Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Doobie Brothers. And the Allman Brothers: you can hear that kind of influence in the music that we play today.”
There certainly is a healthy southern rock feel in the grooves of Wayne Toups and Zydecajun’s latest release, Fish Out of Water. You can almost imagine Lynyrd Skynyrd’s guitar team bailing out from its ill-fated flight, landing safely in the Louisiana swamps, and setting up shop with Toups and his four-piece band.
“Yeah, really!” agrees Toups. “It is a great style of music, and I think it can be incorporated into this Cajun cultural phenomenon that’s happening. It’s a great way to get over to the younger generation and let ’em know how the music can be combined and still have the Cajun root and the heritage behind it.”
By mixing in a little southern rock, R&B, and soul with the traditional zydeco and Cajun roots of his forefathers, Toups has concocted a thoroughly rockin’ musical brew that’s difficult to pass up. Interested parties can find that out for themselves when Wayne Toups and Zydecajun play the Town Pump on Wednesday (June 5).
And while a good portion of the band’s lyrics are sung in the traditional patois of the Louisiana Cajuns, unilingual types needn’t worry about hauling their French-English dictionaries along. This kind of foot-stompin’ music crosses all boundaries.
“We look at it as a universal music,” says Toups. “I’ve seen everyone from four- and five-year-olds to people that were 60 and 70 years old enjoyin’ it. So what a great age span right there, you know. What a great margin!”