Feufollet offer a new spin on the Cajun sound

In listening to the music of Lafayette, Louisiana’s Feufollet, there is an undeniable undercurrent of Cajun influence permeating the group’s sound.

Priding themselves as a group that is deeply rooted in Louisiana soil, Feufollet has injected a new joie de vivre into the genre, taking great care to honour traditional Cajun music while adding their own modern touch and influence to their records.

What is perhaps most surprising about the band, however, is the fact that in a genre typically reserved for musicians and artists twice their age, the five members of Feufollet range in age from 21- to 27 years old.

Founded in 1995 when fiddler Chris Segura was 11 years old and accordionist/vocalist Chris Stafford was 8 years old, the band has been hailed for a musicianship that normally takes decades to perfect. The current lineup of Feufollet, together since approximately 2007, includes the two founding members and Anna Laura Edmiston, Mike Stafford and Phillipe Billeaudeaux. The group recently returned from a quick tour of Europe where they had the pleasure of performing at the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival as well as the WOMAD festival, which was co-founded by Peter Gabriel.

Feufollet has five releases to their credit, the most recent being last year’s Grammy-nominated record, En Couleurs.

Speaking to the Times & Transcript the day after a performance at Moncton’s intimate Plan B Lounge, Chris Segura admits that Cajun music might not necessarily be the “norm” for what teens and pre-teens might be inclined to listen to. Chris was introduced to and fell in love with Cajun music thanks to his parents.

“My parents played a lot of Cajun music when I was younger,” he shares. “I spent a lot of time tagging along with them going to various jam sessions and going to see bands play. It ended up providing me a natural attraction to the genre.”

Feufollet are no strangers when it comes to performing in Atlantic Canada. Chris says the band last performed here during the 2009 Congres Mondial Acadien in Caraquet.

“We started coming to Atlantic Canada to perform as far back as 1998. If we haven’t played here every year, I believe it is safe to say that we are here every second year.”

In fact, on one of Feufollet’s first trips to Nova Scotia many moons ago, Chris says that each of Feufollet’s band members had their parents tag along for the ride, for supervision purposes in addition to just wanting to get away for a road trip. He says that a stop at a roadside restaurant in Nova Scotia helped him realize just how closely knit the Maritimes are with Louisiana.

“The owner of the restaurant had caught wind that we were from Louisiana and came out to chat with us. And it was actually spooky because he looked exactly like my uncle so there seems to be more of a connection between our two regions than just a musical one,” Chris laughs.

“Musically though, I feel we are a little different than what people might expect from a Cajun band. We bring a lot of diverse influences like country, swing and African-American rhythms into our music.

We tend to dig around and find recordings of songs that were made in the 1930s that people might not know, rearrange them and make them our own.”

Contrary to popular opinion though, Chris says that Cajun music isn’t solely an “old man’s” game, at least not in Lafayette. Like Feufollet have already done with Cajun music, musicians both young and old alike indulge in the their own unique take on the genre and just might be responsible for taking Cajun music into unexplored territories.

“Back home, there is a rather large group of young musicians that are playing Cajun music. While everybody seems to respect the traditional side of the music, there are a lot of people trying to write new music as well. For a while, I think that was missing in the genre. There are still a lot of older musicians in Lafayette that are still playing; some of those guys are the reasons that some of the oldest songs are still around and being heard.”

Article published in August 10, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript