Lafayette band’s rock sound grows out of deep Cajun culture _lowres

Photo provided by Chris Stafford -- Nowadays the band Feufollet sounds more rock than Cajun and usually sings in English. But, 'We still recognize that the music that we do has to be danceable,' says founder Chris Stafford, in foreground. Behind Stafford, from left, are bandmates Philippe Billeaudeaux, Michael Stafford, Kelli Jones-Savoy, Andrew Toups and Chris Segura.

For many young people, starting a band is part of how they define themselves, a way to draw the line where mom and dad end and they begin.

Chris Stafford, of Lafayette’s Feufollet, started playing Cajun music when he was 9. He’s now 26 and went through all the changes teenagers and people in their early 20s experience, but they came in the context of Feufollet.

“As I get older and realize things about the world and music and my tastes change, it definitely reflects in the music,” Stafford said.

Feufollet will play One Eyed Jacks Saturday night, and the band’s current show reflects where it’s at today.

“There was a time in my life when Cajun music was everything to me,” Stafford said, but not anymore. “We should be as creative as we can possibly be. Not doing what’s intellectually stimulating to us is doing a disservice to our audience and ourselves.”

Feufollet’s covers these days more likely come from the rock world than Cajun field recordings. One of the live highlights is their arrangement of The Beach Boys’ “Heroes and Villains.”

The idea came from bassist Philippe Billeaudeaux, who’s such a fan that he assembled his own version of The Beach Boys’ lost classic “Smile” from bootleg tapes.

“We took some of the slower and more crazy aspects out of it and made it more danceable,” Stafford said. “We still recognize that the music that we do has to be danceable.”

The band has finished work on a new album, “Two Universes,” which is due out early next year.

For the first time, many of the songs will be sung in English instead of Cajun French, partly because Stafford had good songs that he wrote in English that were ready to go. New singer Kelli Jones-Savoy is a North Carolina native with a background in Appalachian folk music, so she writes in English as well.

These changes in the band’s sound don’t come out of nowhere.

Lafayette has been a musically fertile place in recent years, where musicians routinely cross genres. Early members of the Lost Bayou Ramblers met playing in a Led Zeppelin cover band.

Taylor Guarisco, of the indie rock band GIVERS, used to play bass with Terrance Simien, and Feufollet found some of their closest musical friends in indie rock band Brass Bed.

When both bands released albums around the same time in 2010, they decided to record two songs from the other band’s album, which they released as “The Color Sessions.”

For Stafford, it was a chance to work on the production chops he was developing, but it also helped them find an audience of their contemporaries.

“It seems like we’ve always played for people who were a lot older than us, but that’s partly because we were so young,” Stafford said.

Feufollet’s relationship with Brass Bed led them to Austin, Texas, to record the upcoming album with Brass Bed’s producer, Danny Reisch.

Stafford liked the sound he got, but it was the first time the band recorded outside of South Louisiana.

“It felt like some kind of new frontier in our lives that we hadn’t crossed before,” Stafford said. “Some of our music seemed more idiosyncratic than if we’d have recorded it in Louisiana, and we were working with somebody who was as far removed from Cajun culture as anyone we’ve ever worked with as a producer. He knows nothing about it, but it was a good thing.”

Stafford doesn’t see any of this as turning his back on Cajun music and culture.

His parents were into the French cultural renaissance, and he went to a French immersion school. “It’s an amazing way to grow up as a musician, he said. “The culture and music is so deep, and it’s crazy how varied it is. It’s a super cool tradition to grow up in.”

Because of that, he doesn’t feel a need to hold to the specific notion of Cajun music that’s in many purists’ minds.

“Cajun music can have a tendency to be very utilitarian,” Stafford said. “Realistically, it had a social function. That’s where men met women and started families. Now, that utility of the music isn’t as necessary. I find it interesting to be artists first.”


with: Tess Brunet, The Black Orchids, plus Sirens

WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9

WHERE: One Eyed Jacks 615 Toulouse St.

INFO: (504) 569-8361, or visit