By Herman Fuselier
Naquin is sticking to his guns. Naquin is among the flood of young
men in their 20s, 30s and younger playing Cajun accordion. Some
play traditional French music while a growing number drift toward
the English lyrics of rock ‘n’ roll, swamp pop and zydeco. But
Naquin feels Cajun music is more than laissez les bons temps rouler
— it’s about making a statement.
scares me that a lot of these artists are turning away from the
French stuff,” said Naquin, 26, a resident of Scott. “Our Cajun
music is just going to become rock ‘n’ roll or swamp pop and we’re
just going to forget about the language. People are going to think
it’s still a Cajun band because he’s still playing a Falcon accordion
or a Martin accordion. It’s going to be Americanized.
want to sell records like everybody else. I’m realizing too, do
I want to sell my heritage and culture just to make money off
CDs? In the long run, what am I doing to my kids and grandkids
down the road?” Naquin stands up for his French heritage on his
new CD and fifth of his career, Mercredi Soir Passé (Last Wednesday
Night), recently released on Swallow Records of Ville Platte.
title song is Kevin’s version of a rare recording done by his
late great-grandfather, Edius Naquin, who was born in 1901. Other
originals include Ma Petite Ange (My Little Angel), a tribute
to Naquin’s wife Rachael and eight-month old daughter Kaleigh
Rachelle, Lonely Girl Two-Step, a pepped-up version of a Walter
Mouton waltz, and Ayoù Mon Tennis Shoe?, a bi-lingual comedy about
a sneaker that ends up cooking in a sauce piquant.
covers include The Back Door, Hold My False Teeth, Bayou Pon Pon
and the Evangeline Special. But Naquin also delves into swamp
pop with Opelousas Sostan and Got You On My Mind (featuring Pat
Breaux on saxophone.)
feels the sax-flavored swamp pop doesn’t betray his dedication
to French music. “It shows the versatility we can do,” said Naquin.
“I find that the Cajun and swamp pop does real well at a club
we play clubs or festivals for the first time, we get the question
‘Do you play just French or do you have some type of English in
there?’ I did that to broaden my audience and to get more airplay
on different stations, maybe get a swamp pop station or country
station to take a look at the product and see what it’s about.
“I still stick to my roots. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary
that would make people say, ‘Hey, he’s changing.’ If I’m doing
anything on this CD, I’m improvising and trying to be more creative,
trying to keep that edge.”
is pleased to record his great grandfather’s tune, which he first
heard when he was 14. But the old improvised ballad did not set
well on Naquin’s young ears, which were tuned to Steve Riley and
Wayne Toups at the time. But 12 years later, a wife, daughter
and aging grandparents have given him a new appreciation for family
and the song.
tune still proved to be challenging. “It’s a tricky song because
there’s no exact measures. When you’re playing it, it’s all by
feel. It’s a bluesy kind of song, so it’s not the easiest song
in the world to play. “When the vocals come in, there’s so much
different ranges. It’s not the same melody. “We played it live
a couple of times and people started asking about it. I figured
it was time to do it.”