Music Interview: Home-cooked Cajun music

The first time I heard that music, it did something to me,” Marc Savoy recalls. “It really confused me. I was about five or six years old, and when I heard those instruments together–the accordion, the fiddle–it did something to my head. If I had experienced it as an older person, as a teenager, I would have thought it was something very erotic, very sensual.”

Though trying desperately to reclaim the feelings of his first musical experience, Louisiana native Marc Savoy confesses that he’s never been able to relive that life-changing moment. Playing their set at the Calgary Folk Music Festival, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band projected every note with a relatable warmness that’s sometimes lost in a scene dominated by whiney thriftstore-clad indie-pop wankers and aging patchouli-scented layabouts. Simply put, when Savoy’s wife Ann croons in French against a medley of fiddle scrapes, accordian wails and guitar strumming, you understand her–even if you don’t speak the language.

“It’s all about the rhythm, the lyrics are always about sad things, believe it or not,” Anne laughs.

“Man, [it’s about] all kinds of stuff,” Micheal Doucet, the group’s fiddler chimes in. “It’s mostly love, loss and separation, but you can two-step to it and have a good time.”

The universal themes might not be exclusive to Cajun music, but the soul behind the sounds and effortless emotional communication speak to its effectiveness. Their firm defense of the traditional Cajun style and emphasis on honesty defines this refreshingly uncomplicated mindset.

“The appeal to me is the simplicity of it,” says Marc. “The fact that it’s music of the people. Simple music from a simple people. That doesn’t mean it isn’t well played. It just doesn’t have any electric sounds, no drums, no gimmicks.”

This simplification of musical stylings is characteristic of the group as a whole. Roots-of-the-earth in appearance, dead honest and without pretense in speech, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band is everything anyone could hope for from a Louisiana fairytale. As such, the way Doucet conceives of music represents the same modest intelligence.

“I used to have an uncle who played fiddle, who also owned a racetrack,” recalls Doucet. “My parents told me not to hang around him, so of course he was the person I hung around most. The land was divided up between five sisters and three brothers. Now my first cousin lived about three or four houses down the road, and he played electric guitar and trumpet. I would sit on my porch and play a little piece [on the fiddle] and he would sit on his porch and play a little piece back. Of course we couldn’t see each other, but we would talk like that.”

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