Come what may, Wayne Toups remains one of the most popular Cajun musicians in Louisiana and elsewhere in the United States and beyond. He spends a lot of time on the road, but there is probably no better place to see him than at his performances in Southwest Louisiana, where fans crowd the stage asking for autographs or just wanting to shake Toups' hand. Toups was born in Crowley, the son of a rice farmer. He learned to play the accordion at age 13 and soon was winning accordion contests like the one held in Church Point. Along with his love of Cajun music, he also was drawn to rock groups like Lynard Skynyrd and R&B performers like Otis Redding. Later, as he developed his own musical style, he incorporated influences from zydeco, fusing it all into unique high-energy, hold-nothing-back Louisiana music that he has named Zydecajun. As he darts about the stage wearing those equally unrestrained tropical shirts, Toups supplies visual excitement that is just as energetic as his music. Whatever other musical traditions he may draw on, Wayne Toups keep the Cajun tradition at the center of his music, as he makes clear in his 2000 release, Little Wooden Box. The title song, sung in English, is a kind of tribute to the accordion and the music on which Toups has built his career. He has a couple of other songs in English and a couple of French versions of English songs ("Les filles de la Ville," based on "New Orleans Ladies," and "Couillon," a version of John Wesley Ryles' "Fool" that Toups first did in 1979). The rest of the songs are Cajun favorites: "Petite ou la grosse," "Jeunes filles de la campagne," "Lacassine Special," "La chanson de limonade," "La valse de musiciens," plus Clifton Chenier's "Tous les temps en temps." In his performances at music festivals in Ville Platte and Church Point depicted on this web page, most of his songs were also in French. His song "Late in Life" won the Cajun French Music Association's "Song of the Year" award in 1990, and Toups is a favorite at the CFMA annual awards festival. Toups' first album, Zydecajun, was not released until 1987, after he had already established himself as a Cajun music star at the 1984 Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette. Johnny Can't Dance (he still regularly performs the title song) was released in 1988, followed by Blast from the Bayou in 1989, Fish Out of Water in 1990, Live! Down Home in 1992 (recorded in 1987 at the Crowley Rice Festival), Back to the Bayou in 1995, toups in 1997 (featuring blues and including several songs released as singles), and More Than Just a Little in 1998 (the single "Free Me" was on the Billboard chart of top country hits). Toups' signature song, "Take My Hand," was one of three songs featured in the movie Dirty Rice. In addition to his own CDs, Toups has also performed with musicians like George Jones, Alan Jackson, Mark Chestnutt, Clay Walker, Sammy Kershaw, and others. Toups' web site provides additional information about his many accomplishments.
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