“I moved back to Louisiana about 1986–87. I had met Steve Riley and he used to sit in with me at lunch time at Mulate’s in Baton Rouge. We were offered a night to have a band and play dance music for Mulate’s. Steve hired a couple of guys and we had a band. It took off like a rocket. We played the Liberty Theatre and after Barry [Ancelet] heard us, he invited us to play Festivals Acadiens.
The Balfa Brothers were the first Cajun band that really caused me to become obsessed. Their sound was exactly what I had been looking for in other kinds of traditional music. Steve was bitten by the same bug. That’s what we really had in common, our love for that band.
Our blueprint was the music of our heroes who were still alive. Whenever we played a dancehall or somewhere else in the world, we would do the same music. A lot of times people would play different music for the down-home crowd. I always wanted to educate the audience. Try to feed them the good stuff and let the chips fall where they may.
I had been singing harmony since I was a kid. I didn’t grow up in the Catholic Church. I grew up in the Baptist Church so our music was full of harmony. I can play the harmony part on practically anything and I learned to flat the third part to anything. When Steve and I did the first hit on the radio, ‘Pointe aux Pins,’ I was singing harmony with him. We recorded that in Zachary Richard’s studio so he sang a third part. So we had three-part harmony on our most popular song on our first record and that was unusual in Cajun music.
People whose opinion I trust tell me that we were just a great dance band. We had a groove that made them want to dance. I’m freelancing now. People call me up and I go play with them. Sometimes still when I get onstage with the Mamou Playboys, I’m shocked at first about how slow that two-step is, compared to the other bands I play with, but it’s great for dancing. It’s not really slow. It’s just more relaxed.
I like being a solo artist. I’m very maneuverable. It doesn’t take much to put me in the black and make me happy. I have to be inventive. I have come up with a way to play Cajun music as a fiddler so it sounds complete. You don’t need a rhythm guitar player and that’s fun for me. When I tour, I can tell the story behind this music and most people don’t know how this French culture got here, where this music came from and why it sounds the way it does. I enjoy telling that story.”