The Band Courtbouillon, a Cajun music supergroup featuring Wayne Toups, Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy, won a Grammy Award in February for best regional roots album. Toups attended the Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles and accepted the honor on behalf of himself and the absent Savoy and Riley.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said this week from Lafayette. “I’ve been flying ever since and my feet ain’t touched the ground.”
Toups’ wife and son also attended the awards, as did Lucius Fontenot and Joel Savoy, co-owners with Phillip LaFargue of Valcour Records, the Eunice-based record label that released the Band Courtbouillon’s self-titled album debut.
“I continue to be excited,” Toups said two months later. “To me it’s the equivalent of winning the Heisman Trophy. I haven’t sat down and got a good cry yet. I’m pretty sure that’s gonna happen when the Grammy comes in.”
Toups, Riley and Savoy have yet to receive their golden trophies shaped like a gramophone.
“When it comes in, I want to polish it and show if off to my friends one time,” Toups said. “Then it’s going in the case and it ain’t moving.”
An invitation from Wilson Savoy to Toups to play for Savoy’s birthday party at Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge inspired the Band Courtbouillon’s album. Riley and bassist Eric Fry also played that night.
“We had a blast,” Toups recalled. “The owner of the restaurant said, ‘Shut down the kitchen but let them play as long as they want.’ We played from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Wilson played barefoot. We had a ball.”
A few days later, Savoy’s brother, Joel, called Toups and suggested that the impromptu birthday party band do some recording in his home studio.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ve been wanting to put together a band called Courtbouillon for a long time,’ ” Toups said.
Toups, Riley, Savoy and Fry recorded a selection of their favorite songs by their Cajun music heroes at Joel Savoy’s recording studio in Eunice.
“We did a raw, authentic Cajun record, where all of us got a chance to shine a little bit,” Toups said.
Although Riley and Savoy play multiple instruments, including accordion, Toups sticks to the squeeze box.
“We all play the accordion three different ways,” he said. “Steve is just amazing when he plays that back to the roots stuff. Wilson, you cannot mistake his playing. He sounds like his dad. Wilson plays with that really good Marc Savoy feel, which is totally different from the way I play.”
Toups based his accordion style upon the recordings of classic Cajun musician Iry LeJeune.
“I do have some authenticity when it comes to playing those old songs,” he said. “I grew up learning how to play like Iry LeJeune.”
Because members of the Band Courtbouillon are so busy with their various musical projects, the group’s Downtown Alive! performance at 6 p.m. Friday, April 19, at Lafayette’s Parc International is a rare chance to hear the band on stage. Toups sees more performances in the future, however, and a follow-up to the band’s Grammy-winning debut.
“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said. “As soon as we get our schedules straightened out. I got a bunch of old songs that I’ve always wanted to record.”
He’s also in the middle of making his new solo album. Toups has done sessions for the album at Dockside Studio in Maurice and in Nashville.
“It’s gonna be a surprise for everybody,” he said. “I’ll have some fiddle on it and a little bit of mandolin and banjo probably. And I’ve still got some squeeze box in it. I’m never gonna get rid of that.”
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