LAFAYETTE — Between the two bands, there are 60 years on the job and no talk of retiring anytime soon.
Come Friday night, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys will each celebrate 30-years of labor and love when Festivals Acadiens et Créoles commences under the oaks of Lafayette's Girard Park.
Carrier and his 2011 Grammy-winning zydeco band take to the Scène Ma Louisiane stage at 5:30 p.m., and Riley's Cajun crew follows at 7:15 p.m.
And on the flip-side of the hour glass, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Daiquiri Queens will make its festival debut on the Atelier stage. The concert comes just a year since the band started.
Festivals Acadiens et Créoles continues, at no charge, through Sunday at the park. The family-friendly festival includes Cajun, zydeco and swamp pop music, food and drink, art and crafts and a tribute to Cajun balladeer Caesar Vincent.
Thousands of people from around the world will converge on Lafayette this weekend for Festival Acadiens et Creoles, and the area will notice t…
Back in 1987, Chubby Carrier was drumming in his father's band, Roy Carrier and the Night Rockers, when Terrance Simien called for "a tour overseas" to open for Fats Domino.
After the tour, Simien offered Carrier a full-time job. Carrier, who would also front his father's band when his dad was offshore, told Simien, "Eventually, I'm going to have my own band."
Simien was fine with that, and in fall '88, the Bayou Swamp Band was cleared for take-off.
Since then, Carrier has put "1 billion miles on my body, man, traveling 275 dates a year," he said. "I lived out there. I was that determined, I told my daddy, 'I'm leaving. I'm going on the road. I'm going to spread our heritage, our culture, our traditions. I'm going to promote Louisiana and zydeco music.'
“And he said, 'Well. I'm going to stay home and feed the pigs.'"
The zydeco circuit wasn't a thing when Carrier hit the road.
“So I went out there and played zydeco music and threw in a little bit of blues," he said. "I toured in the blues circuit. I even incorporated some horns. It changed the sound a little bit, but I'd just added horns."
Since the late '90s, Carrier has noticed younger zydeco musicians coming up, such as Lil’ Nate, Chris Ardoin and J Paul Jr. Their music reflected their times.
“The music changed," Carrier said. "You’re going to hear the hip-hop, the rap, the R&B. It’s their generation. They started listening to that style of music, and they incorporated that into zydeco music.
“I was incorporating some James Brown riffs in my zydeco. That was in my day, in my generation. So I don't say, 'What the hell they doing?' I'm like, 'Well, the guy's trying to keep his family fed.'"
Although he's not touring as much as he used to, Carrier continues to put food on the table with his music.
“I'm 51 years old, and I've still got some gas in the tank," he said. "This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. I can't change."
Steve Riley was just out of high school when the Mamou Playboys formed.
“Our first two records were basically covers of the songs we loved," Riley said. David Greely, the band's co-founder, "always researched all kinds of old stuff and we always included some of that on our records."
Over the years, the band “just kind of experimented with a lot of things,” Riley said. “It’s a balance. You’ve got to play music you like and you’ve just got to hope that the audience follows you."
While the Playboys pushed the envelope, Riley said, he had it easy compared with his mentor, Dewey Balfa.
"He grew up at a time people weren't really proud of their music and culture," Riley said. "So I'm sure it was much harder for him than it was for us to break through boundaries and eventually make people come around and realize that their music and culture was important.
“He told me, ‘Music is freedom. You express yourself in whatever way you want.' So even though he was a traditional musician, he told me that early on and that really impacted me. So I’ve always been kind of fearless. And I’ve always loved diversity and variety in what we do and what we’re about.”
Riley also sees diversity and variety in the younger, contemporary Cajun music scene.
“They are true disciples, French-speaking, true lovers of our music and culture," he said. "They're the real deal and they're doing great things."
That includes female-fronted bands like the Daiquiri Queens, co-founded by Jamie Lynn Fontenot and Miriam McCracken.
The band members are excited to play Festivals Acadiens et Créoles "because we always have gone to that festival," Fontenot said. "All of our favorite bands play there and it's a really good opportunity to play the festival if you're an Acadian band."
Fontenot was a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and took classes under Barry Ancelet, who, with CODOFIL, was involved in getting the festival going in 1974.
“I really respect him and that festival and what they do," she said. "Just the fact to be asked to play there when you play in a Cajun band is really cool.
“There's pretty much no other iconic festival for Cajun music than that."
Festivals Acadiens et Créoles
Thursday through Sunday
Girard Park, Lafayette
The music at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles starts Friday, but free special events, focused on Cajun culture, are scheduled for the two days before the festival takes to the park.
“Exploring Francophone Culture,” a panel discussion hosted by CODOFIL, looks at the history of the organization and the impact and importance of Francophone culture in Louisiana. It is set for Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6-8 p.m., at the Hilliard University Art Museum, 710 East St. Mary Boulevard.
A symposium, “Work is Too Hard, and Love is a Cheat: The Lyrical Rebellion of French Folksong in Louisiana,” takes place Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on the Hilliard grounds in the A. Hays Town Building. Folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet will discuss Caesar Vincent, and there will be a panel discussion on language revival and song in Louisiana. A brown bag keynote address, “Louisiana Native American Songstress Alma Barthelemy and the Lyricism of Colonial France,” by musician Roger Mason, will close the symposium.
The symposium is free but registration is required to reserve a seat; attendees can bring a bag lunch at no cost, or pay $15 for a meal from Bread & Circus.
Also on Thursday, nearly 30 local musicians will take part in a tribute concert to Caesar Vincent at Warehouse 535. The concerts starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10.