For a lot of years, one of the hottest tickets in Cajun/Zydeco music has been the live show of Wayne Toups and Zydecajun. Toups himself is almost worth the price of admission, not only for his flamboyant shirts, flowing hair, and lively squeeze-box play, but also for his searing vocals. He’s backed by an outstanding group that includes guitarists Tony Ardoin and Chevy Foreman, keyboardist Don Hayes, drummer Matt Janise, and several other talented veterans of the South Louisiana music scene
Toups and his boys put on quite a show, but for those of us who can’t make it to a live performance, the next best thing might be their latest album, Live 2009, now out on the Swallow Records label. It’s a 13-track collection of their best pieces, and includes everything from slow Cajun ballads to rip-roaring tunes like the opening cut, “Zydecajun Train,” which invites you to climb aboard for a pulse-pounding ride.
That’s just one of several rollicking performances on the album, some of them newer pieces and others traditional, such as the always enjoyable “Johnny Can’t Dance.” Another that will make you itch to get to the dance floor is the aptly-named “Two-Step Mamou,” and if your dancing hunger still needs fed, give it “Sweet Jolene,” which is much more rambunctious than it’s title might suggest.
For something completely different, try “Please Explain,” drummer Janise’s explosive tour-de-force. But if you’re in a softer and slower mood, “Take My Hand” has some nice moments as Toups turns down the intensity a notch and proves to be a pretty good crooner. The same is true for the piece that closes the album, “I Should Have Never Fell In Love.” It’s spotlighted on the cover and described as a crossover country hit, and it does have echoes of honky-tonk.
Good bayou sounds from Wayne Toups and the boys — highly recommended.