About Wayne Toups
One of the most exciting musicians to come out of Acadiana, Wayne Toups has been nicknamed "the Cajun Springsteen." His strong stage presence is underscored by his flashy style on the accordion, performing a brand of music he calls "zydecajun." As the name suggests, his music fuses the traditional Cajun country sound with the bluesier sound of zydeco, while adding a rock & roll twist. Picking up the accordion in his early teens, Toups cut his first single in 1975, and became a Louisiana star thanks to his hot-wired brand of Cajun music. Toups was one of the first Cajun acts to be signed to a major label, and his 1989 album, Blast from the Bayou, took his music to a nationwide audience. Playing up to 200 dates a year, Toups maintained a loyal audience even after he began recording for smaller labels, rocking hard with albums like Back to the Bayou (1995) and Whoever Said It Was Easy (2004). Personal problems put Toups' career on hold in the mid-2000s, but he returned stronger than ever, earning a Grammy Award for 2012's The Band Courtbouillon (a collaboration with fellow Cajun stars Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy) and reveling in his country influences on 2016's Wayne Toups.
Toups, born in 1958, was immersed in Cajun heritage as a child in Crowley, Louisiana. He started playing accordion at 13 and soon headed for the stage, performing the music of accordion masters like Iry LeJeune and Belton Richard. After a stint performing with the Crowley Aces and Camey Doucet, Toups was inspired to try reaching a new generation of music listeners. With his energetic fusion of roots rock and traditional Louisiana sounds as well as dashes of soul and classic rock, Toups created a sound that appealed to younger listeners as well as fans of classic Cajun and zydeco. His rock & roll style and primarily English lyrics had an instant appeal for a new mainstream audience, as well as Cajun music aficionados open to something new. As his "zydecajun" sound swept through the South, Mercury Records caught wind of his success, signing him to a record contract and releasing the album Zydecajun in 1985.
Mercury put more promotional muscle behind 1988's Blast from the Bayou, and the album became a success, earning him a new audience outside the South. Toups stormed on, cutting two more albums for Mercury (1990's Johnnie Can't Dance and 1991's Fish Out of Water) while keeping up a frenetic touring pace, taking his unique sound all over the world. Festival and television appearances made him one of the most visible musicians of his culture. Toups appeared on soundtracks for television (Broken Badges) and films (Steel Magnolias). He backed many renowned country singers, including Mark Chesnutt, Alan Jackson, George Jones, and Clay Walker. Toups then returned to his roots, but in his own inimitable way. He signed with the Louisiana-based Swallow Records label for 1995's Back to the Bayou, which soon became the label's fastest seller. His 2000 release Little Wooden Box (his debut for Shanachie Records) contained songs in both French and English and traditional tunes reinvented as rockers.
Toups' second Shanachie date, Whoever Said It Was Easy, was issued in 2004. Reflections of the Past, a collection of traditional Cajun favorites, appeared the following year. Toups had a tough year in 2005: he was arrested and convicted on federal charges of cocaine distribution. He spent ten months in prison, but the event proved to be a turning point, as he got sober and earned his high-school equivalency diploma. He didn't release another record until Live in 2009. Toups was married in 2012, and he released The Band Courtbouillon, a trio record with Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy. The album won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album at the following year's ceremony. Live at Jazzfest 2013, from his set that spring at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Toups appeared at the festival for 27 years in a row, more consecutive appearances than any other artist), was issued by MunckMix. In 2015, Toups also signed with Southern blues and R&B label Malaco Records, and began working on his first album for the company. The following January, he became a father. Wayne Toups was released in April 2016, continuing to offer his zydecajun sound steeped in modern and classic country and R&B. In 2017, MunckMix brought out another concert album from Toups, Live at Jazzfest 2017. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer & Mark Deming
BORNOctober 2, 1958