Feufollet, a genre-merging young band from Lafayette whose 16-year history includes a Grammy nomination, begins its first national tour Friday in Lake Charles.
The tour’s second stop, Saturday at Tipitina’s, comes a few days before Tuesday’s release of “Two Universes,” Feufollet’s first nationally distributed album.
“Two Universes” shows more than enough talent, creativity, confidence and skill to win nationwide acclaim. Feufollet co-founder Chris Stafford and a relatively new band member, Kelli Jones-Savoy, did most of the songwriting and singing for the album.
Fiddler and guitarist Jones-Savoy grew up in North Carolina with old-time country music. Stafford, whose multiple instruments include accordion, and his brother, drummer Mike Stafford, bring their Cajun, swamp-pop and rock influences to Feufollet. Andrew Toups and his suite of keyboards, including Hammond B3 organ, add unexpected flavors.
Pre-release reaction to “Two Universes” includes praise from Country Weekly, which judged opening song “Tired of Your Tears” impossible not to dance to. Entertainment Weekly described “Know What’s Next” as “plenty rootsy” but also “ ’60s psych-pop and modern-day indie jangle.”
Cajun music — from the pop songs-of-the-day-inclusive Hackberry Ramblers to the hard-rocking Lost Bayou Ramblers — has a long history of absorbing musical styles.
“Cajun music and country music are not that different, really,” explained Chris Stafford, a member of Feufollet since he was 12. “The songs’ structure, the chord changes, the singing, especially in Cajun dancehall music, are part of a ’50s, ’60s style that imitated country music.
“People like Belton Richard, the stuff he was doing, that was basically straight-up country, sung in French with an accordion. This kind of thing has been going on for a very long time.”
The Stafford brothers, whose mother, Lisa Stafford, is programming director of Festival International de Louisiane, grew up with their region’s indigenous music as well as mainstream American music.
“We’ve been exposed to so many different things,” Stafford said. “We love rock ’n’ roll. We love country. We love swamp pop. We like Cajun music. When we write music, all those styles in our heads, they come out in a blend of all the stuff we like.”
Jones-Savoy, whose husband is Cajun musician and Valcour Records co-founder Joel Savoy, adds her North Carolina influences to Feufollet. She’s played fiddle since childhood and also plays clawhammer banjo.
“Her coming into the band brought that country sound into it,” Stafford said.
Even though Jones-Savoy and the Stafford brothers grew up hundreds of miles apart, they share a similar music festival-circuit background.
“Kelli was exposed to a lot of folk music, traditional music, but just in a different place than us,” Stafford said.
Jones-Savoy’s interest in Cajun culture and music inspired her to move to Lafayette, where she attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and learned to play Cajun-style fiddle.
After singer-guitarist Anna Laura Edmiston left Feufollet in 2012, Jones-Savoy joined. She and Feufollet had already been playing music together informally for years.
“We had such a connection with Kelli,” Stafford said. “And we knew how great a songwriter and singer she is. It was a natural choice. She’s awesome.”
“Two Universes” is being distributed by the Nashville-based Thirty Tigers. A New York City public relations firm, whose clients include Bruce Springsteen, is handling publicity.
In advance of the new Feufollet album’s release, Stafford has been doing many interviews. Media organizations that never expressed interest in Feufollet before are suddenly taking note of the southwest Louisiana band.
“We’re super excited,” he said.