By Justin Morris
Our beloved Bayou State has some pretty bountiful resources, and if you want to look at the things that Louisiana has a lot of — and you’re not talking about mosquitoes or 100-plus-degree days — one would certainly be festivals.
From jazz to rice to crawfish or gumbo, the residents of South Louisiana always seem to find a way to celebrate, and you’ll be hard pressed to find festive events that don’t include the Louisiana staple of live music.
So, as this issue is our Fall Festival Guide, we decided to take a closer look at some of the artists and bands that make up the current landscape of Louisiana music and keep those toes tapping and dancers two-stepping at all of your favorite Louisiana Festivals.
Rusty Metoyer and the Zydeco Krush
Young though he may be, Rusty Metoyer is no stranger to making music. For over three-quarters of a decade, he and his Zydeco Krush have been a staple of the local music scene. And Metoyer has expanded his horizons, bringing his unique gumbo of traditional Cajun and new zydeco not only across the United States but even abroad, having now performed in France as well as the Netherlands.
Metoyer is certainly no stranger to playing the festival circuit, either. In Louisiana alone, he has played at Contraband Days, Downtown Lake Charles’ Crawfish Festival, Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, The Beauregard Watermelon Festival and Festivals Acadians et Creoles, where he will be returning this October — and that’s just to name a few.
The 25-year-old Metoyer has been the recipient of the SWLA CVB Everlasting Impression award in 2016 and the CREOLE Best New Artist Award earlier this year. He has released two albums: Take My Hand and his sophomore effort, In Due Time, which hit the shelves in April of last year.
Metoyer says his music and sound are a product of the music and sounds he grew up on, which ranged from Led Zeppelin, James Brown and the Isley Brothers to Boyz II Men, Kendrick Lamar and 311.
“I pull a little something from all of those different sounds to make my brand of zydeco,” Metoyer says. “Also, I write music for the everyday person. Every song that I write comes from real experiences — if not my own personal experience, then an experience from someone I know. I like to connect with people on a personal level through my music.”
So, if you’re ready to connect to the music of Rusty Metoyer and the Zydeco Krush, then make sure you make it out to Festivals Acadians et Creoles, taking place in Lafayette’s Girod Park October 12-15. (Times, schedules and stages will be announced by the end of the month).
Sinners/Nee de Traditionne
Another set of familiar faces on the festival scene are local country, soul and rock ‘n’ rollers Sinners, whom you’ve seen play the Arts and Crabs Fest the last two years, Chuck Fest, Contraband Days, Roots Revival Fest and numerous others.
Their debut LP Dog Hill embraces a rootsy, alt-country-esqe sound which has shifted a bit more into a Swamp Pop sensibility that will be noticeable on their upcoming release, What I Meant to Say, expected this September.
And while the two-year stand at Arts and Crabs led me to expect to see them at this year’s festival, bandleader Charles Lyons tells us that they decided to do it a bit differently this year. Instead of Sinners, Lyons is bringing Nee de Traditionne, a new Cajun act comprised of Lyons, Jeremy Boudreaux and frontman Brandon Broussard.
Lyons tells us that the idea came from Boudreaux, who told him about Broussard and his desire to play some Cajun music. Lyons jumped at the chance to celebrate and work on the very roots music of the region that has brought them all to playing music together.
Lyons says that no matter which band he’s playing with, the importance of being part of the festival scene is critical to any working act.
“First of all, you’re going to play in front of people that wouldn’t have seen you otherwise,” he says. “Second, they pay well, which certainly helps. But I think the most important thing is that not everybody is into the nightlife scene at our age. I certainly understand that, but here you can get in front of a lot of those people, because there’s a lot more to draw people than just one band, and it’s during the day or evening.
“So, you get in front of new people, and that’s kind of the point … to reach and connect with as many people as you can. Be it 5,500 or 5,000 — the number doesn’t matter. As long as you can reach one more person that gets it, then you’re making progress.”
And while Sinners may be missed at this year’s Arts and Crabs Fest, it sounds like Broussard, Boudreaux and Lyons have plenty of exciting music to bring to the stage. And fear not, Sinners fans, the fellas will all be there for Chuck Fest this October. Don’t miss it!
Justin Martindale and The Backstabbers
For another slice of Americana with its roots dug deep in South Louisiana soil, look no further than Justin Martindale and the Backstabbers.
Seen locally at venues like My Place and Luna Live, and local affairs such as Live at the Lakefront and Chuck Fest, this talented songwriter and producer deliver a sound that is rich with folk, country and blues, and Martindale delivers the sound with a voice not unlike Jason Isbell in many very nice ways.
Since the release of their self-titled EP last fall, the band has been hard at work in Martindale’s own In the Pines recording studio, preparing for the release of the band’s first full-length album, Heartaches and Rattlesnakes, due this October.
Martindale calls the new record “a songwriting exercise that turned into a concept album,” as it deals largely with heartbreak, which is something that he says he’s never really had to deal with much.
On music and inspiration, Martindale has no shame about the things that have inspired his music and he says that he wears those influences proudly.
“Most people try and run from these things, but I held them close. [My influences include] Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, to name a few; but also my parents, my wife, my children, Southern Louisiana, Lake Charles downtown nights, pots of gumbo and motorcycles.
“Every song is a letter to someone or something, and I hope that they’re honest and make you want to drive, or jump on your motorcycle and ride.”
And if it just so happens that his music makes you want to drive or ride to go see them perform, then you are in luck. Justin and crew will be returning to Chuck Fest once again this year on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Time and stages TBA)
Dog Hill Stompers
Family. Legacy. Zydeco. There aren’t many more appropriate words to describe the Dog Hill Stompers. And when it comes to Southwest Louisiana legacies, you don’t get much bigger than that of Boozoo Chavis.
Some 33 years ago, Mr. Paper in My Shoe himself started the Boozoo Chavis Labor Day Festival. And though our beloved Boozoo is no longer with us, his spirit, music and blood are represented well by his very own grandsons, who are the DHS.
This group of primarily brothers and cousins is running 12 years strong, and continues to be one of the most present zydeco acts on the local scene, though now with a very profound and unfortunate absence. Just a couple of short months ago, the eldest grandson and senior member of the band, Quincy Trail, sadly passed away, taking not only the band’s accordion player, but a critical part of the family unit that is Dog Hill Stompers.
Trail’s brother, Mason, tells us that he has switched from bass to accordion to honor his brother’s music. He says that the band has been rocked to its core by the loss, but that they push on, continuing to “Do it for Q.”
Trail also told us how important it is to the band not only to be the legacy family band, but to push their creative boundaries as well.
“That means everything to me,” he says. “It’s about our culture, and what our grandfather stood for, and doing what we can to follow in his footsteps, but at the same time keeping the music a little modern to keep up with this new day and age, but not forgetting where we come from. It’s doing both, and doing both well.”
So, if any of you are ready to zydeco, be sure to check out Boozoo’s Labor Day Fest that will feature not only Dog Hill Stompers, but Keith Frank, Chris Ardoin and NuStep Zydeco, Geno Delafosse and many more! The party goes down on Labor Day, Sept. 4 at the KC Hall in Iowa. Hope to see you there!
There’s hardly more to say than what’s already been said, because if you have ever lived on Louisiana soil, you have most assuredly heard of Wayne Toups.
The Crowley-born King of zydecajun has been a prominent fixture of the Louisiana music scene for three decades; has appeared on the Super Bowl broadcast; has released over a dozen albums; and even picked up a Grammy along the way (with Wilson Savoy and Steve Riley for The Band Courtbouillon in 2003).
And while it’s been a long and eventful ride for Toups, he told us that the biggest difference over all the years is the industry itself, and trying to stay creative through all its various challenges.
“It’s the maturity of the industry,” he says. “You try to continue evolve as an artist. Of course, being raised poor in south Crowley gave me an opportunity to see the world and meet a lot of big people and great artists. I’ve been to over 20 countries, and I toured with Carol King, and opened for Ray Charles. I’ve done Jazz Fest for 27 or 28 years, so it’s been a great journey.
“We’ve had our ups and our downs, and that comes with the business. But I’ve come out with 16 or 17 records, so the dream continues.”
And good ol’ Wayne continues, not only to play, but to headline the Festival Acadians et Creoles, which he will certainly be doing yet again this year. That party goes down in Lafayette in mid-October.
And those are just some of the great acts that you’ll see playing at the Bayou States’ various festivals over the next few months. Even if none of these specific acts get your attention, these festivals are so loaded with local and regional talent that you are sure to find something to your liking somewhere out there. So look them up, and keep your eyes and ears open for any of these acts. I sure hope you dig ‘em, and I’ll see YOU at the show!