Certainly one of the most exciting musicians to come out of Acadiana is Wayne Toups. From the moment he bursts on-stage with his accordion, Toups is going full blast and the show is only going up from there. In short, Toups will blow your dance socks off.
His electrifying stage presence is due somewhat to his persona; often sporting a Hawaiian shirt, head band, and ponytail, he is a man in constant motion. It is also because he is a fantastic musician on his accordion, performing a brand of music he calls Zydecajun. As the name suggests, his style fuses the traditional Cajun country sound with the bluesier sound of zydeco, with a definite rock & roll twist and Cajun roots rock is what it is.
Toups, born in 1958, was immersed in his Cajun heritage as a child in Crowley, LA. He started playing accordion when he was 13 and soon headed for the stage, performing the music of accordion masters like Iry LeJeune and Belton Richard. After a stint with Camey Doucet, Toups was inspired by him to try to reach a new generation of music listeners. He became a revolutionary: He created his own art form called Zydecajun.
Toups released an album by that name in 1987. His rock 'n' roll style and primarily English lyrics had an instant appeal for a new mainstream audience, as well as Cajun music afficionados open to something new. And new it was, with Toups listing as musical influences R&B stars Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, as well as the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers. He added them to the musical gumbo of his culture for a sound all his own that has won him a huge following.
Toups has stormed on, with numerous recordings to his credit, while keeping up a frenetic touring pace. He is on the road most of the time and has taken his unique sound all over the world. Festival and television appearances have made him one of the most visible musicians of his culture. His work is on soundtracks for television (Broken Badges) and the movies (Steel Magnolias). He has backed many renowned singers, including Mark Chesnutt and Clay Walker.
CDs such as Blast From the Bayou (1988), Fish Out of Water (1991), Back to the Bayou (1995), and More Than Just a Little (1998) give the listener a good overview of the party music style for which the musician is known. Toups has returned to his roots, but in his own inimitable way. His 2000 CD release Little Wooden Box(his first album for Shanachie Records) is a case in point; it contains songs in both French and English and traditional tunes reinvented as rockers. Whether "Southern Girls" or "Les Filles de la Ville," the common denominator is great, high-energy music. Toups released his second album for Shanachie Records, Whoever Said It Was Easy, in 2004. Reflections of the Past appeared a year later in 2005, with Live following in 2009. Band Courtbouillon was released in 2012. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer