Wayne Toups Q&A: The Man Behind the Accordion

Photo Courtesy of waynetoupsmusic.com

Wayne Toups is often regarded as one of the most well-known American Cajun singers. He has spent his career playing as far as South America with a focus on folk style, Cajun and zydeco music. In 2013, he won the Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album and on Aug. 31, he played in Old Town Theatre in Huntsville. There, he took some time before the show for an interview.

Q: Can you tell our readers a little of your biography before starting music?

A: I was born in Crowley (Louisiana). I was raised on Cajun music, Cajun and swamp pop and blue-eyed soul and Motown. I learned how to play the accordion in 1972.

Q: So, your whole life has been music since then?

A: I would like to think on the inside it was like that. On the outside, I had to stop and go work in the oil field for a little while. But I turned it into a career around 1983. I never looked back again.

Q: You started playing with the accordion, can you please explain more about why you started with that instrument?

A: It’s a diatonic accordion. Yes, and the reason why I learned that instrument is because I grew up in a family that listened to that music. I’m the only musician, but they all love music.

Q: What would you say were three milestones, good and bad, throughout your music career?

A: Good and bad. The good thing about the music is playing something that I really love and signing with Mercury was a big deal. And, being on tour with Carole King, going to South East Asia, touring South and Central America, that’s the wonderful things. The low part of my deal was having to do a little time for screwing up on the road. But it made me… and it was a long time ago. But I learned from it. I have been grateful for last 15 years.

Q: What would you tell students who are going into the entertainment industry?

A: I don’t deter anyone from wanting to play music, but it’s not easy. I don’t know how they think it is. I had to sleep on the floor of a van and make 50 bucks a night for a long time. It’s called paying dues.

Q: What would you define as Cajun and Zydeco music?

A: Cajun music was first recorded in 1928. It’s a folksy type of music that used to be played on fiddle and guitar. Zydeco music on the other hand is more a rhythm and blues. I came up with something called zydecajun, where a blue-eyed soul meets the accordion and zydeco altogether. It’s been around for the last 40 years. I was lucky enough to find my identity through that.

Q: What brought you to Huntsville?

A: I like to think that we’ve been playing Texas for a long time and a they have these wonderful little spots that have these great little theaters. We get to show off our music. We feel fortunate, it sounds great when we did the sound check and we look forward to [playing Huntsville].

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