The Pine Leaf Boys‘ Wilson Savoy is taking on a new role—filmmaker—as he makes a documentary about Cajun music star Wayne Toups. The two play in the Band Courtbouillon with Steve Riley, and Savoy has started a Kickstarter project to help fund the documentary.
What is your relationship to Wayne Toups?
I’ve known about Wayne all my life. As a kid, I heard him on the radio but never knew much about him. In the past few years, Wayne released an old-timey, traditional record with various local trad musicians, much different from what he’s been known for—the highly intense, inimitable Zydecajun.
Before I heard the new trad record, I wasn’t overly interested in Wayne. I knew he was a great singer and an innovator, but I was more of a traditionalist, listening to records of my idols (my dad, Marc Savoy, as well as legends Iry LeJeune and Amede Ardoin). Over the past two years we became friends while working on the documentary. During this time, we also started our own band together along with Steve Riley. The Band Courtboullion features Wayne playing accordion, myself on fiddle and Steve on guitar.
What is your motivation for doing this documentary?
For me, making a documentary about someone gives me the chance to sit down with them and let them pour out their heart and tell me all about their lives. Making a documentary, for me, always starts as an excuse to hang out with the person and get to know them. I’ve made a few in the past and all of them were based on people who interested me.
Wayne is the most famous Cajun musician alive today, and a local celebrity all over the South. On top of that, he has fused together pop, rock, Cajun, zydeco and soul to create his own style of music, and while doing so, inspired countless young people to take up playing Cajun music. If that’s not enough, Wayne has had a wild life from the insane performances on the Super Bowl to being married a number of times to the drugs and the rough times in prison, then coming back and being honored at the most prestigious festival for Cajuns, Festivals Acadiens. People don’t know Wayne. Some see him as a wild man going too far with music. Some see him as the awful nickname “Cocaine Wayne.” Some see him as a Louisiana icon. The views are so contradictory.
Would you say this is more about Toups or about how he fused genres and took music to a different level?
This documentary is more about Toups’ life, which includes him fusing rock and Cajun and zydeco. The documentary is about the beginnings and what made him want to do this, why he did it, where did it bring him.
Did you expect to make more than your goal on Kickstarter?
I thought it was going to be hard to meet the goal, but people have been very supportive. Facebook was a great way to get the word out, and people visited the Kickstarter page and watched my short five-minute preview. We asked for $5,000 to complete production, and already we’ve met the goal, but there are always more expenses in our way that we will encounter, so we will continue accepting donations.
How do you think New Orleans will respond to the documentary and do you think it will be well received outside of Louisiana?
New Orleans will relate to the documentary because it’s a documentary about a very important musician. New Orleans prides itself on being French and Cajun, as well as the music capital of the South, and this documentary is about one of the important renaissance musicians who brought Cajun music to a new plateau, took it out of Louisiana and brought it home again. The Cajun music blasting out of the tourist shops in the French Quarter is usually Wayne or one of Wayne’s protégées.
The people of New Orleans, as well as the people outside of Louisiana, will enjoy learning about the wild ride of Toups. Even those who haven’t the slightest idea who Wayne is will enjoy the movie because he has a good story to tell, and we’re going to tell it with passion like Wayne plays his music. It’s exactly what a documentary should be—informative while being entertaining about an interesting life, full of passion, sorrow, love and creativity that separated this man from the rest of the people and made him a star. Watching the documentary should be inspiring to the young Cajun musicians, saying, “You see? Cajun music isn’t a museum piece. It’s still evolving and it’s still rockin!”