LAFAYETTE — Good things come in nominations.
At least, that’s how it’s been going lately for Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.
In November, the zydeco band earned a 2018 Grammy nomination in the best regional roots music album category for “Top of the Mountain.”
This month, the Zydeco Hellraisers nabbed best zydeco artist and best zydeco album nominations in the 2017 OffBeat Awards. Dopsie also garnered a nod for best accordionist in the New Orleans music publication’s annual awards.
“Every time I turn around, there’s more positive news happening,” Dopsie, 38, said. “I feel very fortunate and blessed right now. I feel like all the stars are lining up, like some positive things are coming my way, and I’m thankful.”
The Grammy nod is the first for the band, but Dopsie, a Lafayette native, caught a Grammy nomination in 2012 as a guest artist on Corey Ledet’s “Nothin’ But the Best.”
“That’s something I’ve been working on for a long time. We finally reached that plateau, so I’m like, 'Wow!' ” Dopsie said of the Grammy announcement. When the OffBeat nominations came along, in which the band has won quite a few over the years, the zydeco musician said: “This really can’t be happening.”
For “Top of the Mountain,” the band took some time traveling to come up with new material.
“I took a little bit of my past, a little bit of the present, some of the future that I’m thinking about, and a little bit of how I grew up, and I just mixed it all into this CD,” Dopsie said. “It’s got the feel of the zydeco when I was growing up.”
Dopsie cited one song in particular, “Gotcha, Baby, on My Mind,” that may have caught the Grammy voters' ear.
“People absolutely love that song when we play it,” he said. “That’s one of the future songs that I put on this album. It’s just a little bit of everything that we did that made people stop and say, ‘OK, all right, this is something else.’ ”
Zydeco courses through Dopsie’s veins and has been a constant in his life.
“Zydeco music to me means love, freedom, happiness, joy,” Dopsie said. “Zydeco is a way of life. I breathe it. I live it. I dream it. Even when I’m not onstage playing, I’ll be sitting down watching TV, and I’ll hear beats in my head and lyrics in my head.
"It’s with me, like, 24/9.”
Dopsie is one of four brothers — Tiger, (David) Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and Anthony. All are following in the footsteps of their father, Rockin’ Dopsie (Alton Rubin), who died in 1993.
“Growing up in my household, I never really understood what was going on until I got a little older,” Dwayne Dopsie said. “When I got to age 4, I could see that Daddy plays music for a living, and he travels, and people go to his shows. When I got a grasp of that, I wanted to be a part of it."
At first, Dopsie picked up the scrubboard, but as he got older, he wanted to try the accordion. He was fascinated by how his father played, left-handed and upside down.
Just 7 years old, Dopsie picked up one of his father’s accordions, but it wasn’t in the cards. Yet he kept at it.
“By the time I was 10, I only knew two songs," he said. "I’d do other stuff, but it wasn’t that much.”
His brothers would tease him, and while that would frustrate him, it drove him as well.
“After my father passed away, there was a fire that started, and everything changed,” Dopsie said. “Everything became a lot easier for me.”
In 1999, Dopsie won the inaugural “Search for the Hottest Accordion Player in America” contest in Branson, Missouri. He was 19 at the time and had just formed his band.
“It was like, yeah, I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said.
Playing zydeco is something he’s been doing ever since — with purpose, all over the world.
“What I’m hoping for is to put zydeco music into everybody’s household,” Dopsie said. “We still go a lot of places now where people don’t really know what zydeco is.
“They’ve heard of it, but then, they don’t comprehend what zydeco really is. My future plans are to be able to do television shows, do a bunch of late-night shows and get the music out there.
“Just put zydeco on the pedestal that it should’ve been on."