In this age of electronic convenience, it isn’t often that I opt for a whole CD of music. Today was not the typical case, because I bought the whole CD featuring a group of teenagers, Huval, Dupuy & Fuselier Cajun Band.
My last purchase of an album by teenagers was the offering of a rock group from Liverpool. That was about 50 years before this new CD went on sale.
Refreshingly pure, the album of mostly traditional Cajun music, splashed with a few contemporary touches, is performed impeccably by a quartet of youngsters ranging in age from 13 to 17. Respectful of the cultural music, their renditions of these French songs present a calming assurance that the Cajun music genre will live for future generations.
The purveyors of this artful work, with names that bespeak their heritage, do not live in a swamp, or row a pirogue to school. Comfortably engaged in normal middle-class lives, these kids are no different than your sons or siblings, except for their exceptional talent to play the songs that link them to their roots.
Phillip Huval, 17, and brother Luke, 13, are from a musical family. Their father, Terry Huval, is fiddler and vocalist of the Jambalaya Cajun Band, headlining the Cajun music scene for 25 years. Cameron Dupuy, 14, learned from father, Michael, a professional musician and vocalist with the Cajun Troubadours, among others. Zachary Fuselier, 15, has no notable musicians in his family, but he’s not held back by that absence. All play more than one instrument.
Fuselier and the Huvals hail from Scott in the Lafayette area, while Dupuy resides in Kenner. Though separated by distance, the group has developed a remarkable cohesiveness. Practice by long distance can be a challenge, but, as evidenced by this performance, that challenge has been overcome.
Seasoned, but lightly so, the group has played at Festivals Acadien et Creoles 2011, Jazz Fest 2012, and more recently at Rendez-Vous des Cajuns at the Liberty Theater in Eunice, and the Sawdust Days festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Cameron Dupuy and his band, the Cajun Troubadours, have a similar string of credits going back a couple of years. Individually the artists have appeared on stage with various Cajun stars in a variety of venues.
The songs of the collection are classically Cajun, with hopping two-steps mingled among flowing waltzes. French lyrics are expressively rendered in Luke Huval’s tenor voice on all but one track, on which Fuselier projects his contrasting baritone. These vocals allude to that point in life where the distinction between boyhood and manhood becomes ambiguous, giving the album an alluring charm in its youthful expression of mature feelings.
Dupuy’s accordion plays the lead, and his adroit command of the instrument becomes immediately apparent. Fuselier’s fiddle is clean and crisp. Rhythmic foundation is provided by the brothers Huval from their acoustic guitars without percussion. Dads, Huval and Dupuy, augment the rhythm section as “featured” players.
Thinking back upon that first Beatles album that I bought, now long lost, perhaps this Huval, Dupuy & Fuselier Cajun Band release will be something for the ages.
Ned Cheever lives in Texas, but his heart belongs to Louisiana. The frequent visitor writes articles for NolaVie. Read his blog at nedcheever.com.