The Savoy Family Cajun Band
Carrying on Traditional Cajun Music

 

savoy family colorThe Savoy Family Cajun Band plays honed down, hard core Cajun music laced with an earthy sensuality. Though the old tunes have been revived and returned to a new life intensity in their hands, the Savoy Family Cajun band doesn’t play from a studied angle. The musicians in the band, Marc and Ann Savoy and their sons Joel and Wilson, each hold their own as strong individual group members, making up a tight intense sound.

Marc and Ann ,as the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, have been performing and recording together since 1977, recording five Cds on the Arhoolie label. They have traveled all over the world, appearing in all the most prestigious venues, such as the Newport Folk Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Concert Series, even the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England, to name a few. The nation has rewarded them for their authenticity and expertise by taking them on numerous state department tours, featuring them in national festivals, awarding Marc Savoy the highest honor in the country for traditional artists, the honorable National Heritage Fellowship Award. The couple recently appeared on the PBS series “American Roots”, and Ann wrote the chapter on Cajun music in the book that accompanied the series which was published by Rolling Stone Press. Ann and son Joel recently appeared in the film “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” and they perform three songs on the Warner Brothers soundtrack. Ann was awarded the Botkin Book Award for her definitive book on the history of Cajun music.

Although the Savoy Family Cajun Band insists upon maintaining a more accoustic approach to Cajun music the band can hold hold its own amongst Cajun music lovers everywhere. In fact, the band loves seeing how much power and sound they can get out of just four instruments. Each member of the band can play numerous instruments and sometimes trade instruments during stage performances. Sometimes the group demonstrates the way Cajun music has evolved by demonstrating the early double fiddle - triangle sound or the solo accordion - fiddle sound. Early French ballads are added to the program to show other historic elements prevelant in early southwest Louisiana. Between the songs the Cajun French poetry of the songs is often briefly translated by Ann so that the feeling can be better understood.Their repertoire is chosen carefully, popular dancehall tunes interspersed with soulful ballads, fiddle or vocal duets, or blues. The songs show the spectrum of Cajun life from sorrow and lost love to nonsense and the joy of dance.

The Savoy Family Cajun Band brings the raw energy of the dancehalls of southwest Louisiana to the stage, peppered with humourous and informative anecdotes about life on the Louisiana prairies. Their first CD has been recently released on Arhoolie Records this year.


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Marc Savoy was born and raised in the small Cajun prairie town of Eunice, Louisiana. Drawing inspiration from 'bals de maison' (house dances) in his father's outdoor kitchen, Savoy obtained his first accordion and began playing it at the age of 12. Playing the instrument led to repairing it and after disassembling enough accordions he began to build them. Playing the accordion has always been a natural part of his life from the dancehall to the home. The musicians with whom he has played Cajun music read like a who’s who of the finest in Cajun music, from the Balfa Brothers, DL Menard, Doc Guidry to early fiddle masters Dennis McGee and Wade Fruge. Later he played the Texas “ Cajun Triangle“ dancehalls and recorded some 45 rpms on the legendary producer Huey Meaux’s Crazy Cajun label.
In 1965 Marc opened the Savoy Music Center in Eunice, which has become a gathering place for local musicians and interested travelers from all over the world. At the store he builds six accordions a month, sending them out to all corners of the globe. Saturday mornings Savoy hosts a jam session at his store.
Marc appeared as a musician in Walter Hill’s film Southern Comfort under the musical direction of Ry Cooder. In 1982 he was awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Marc recently appeared in the PBS documentary, American Roots Series
A striking feature of Marc’s presence is his down-hominess and devotion to preserving Cajun culture. Whether he is playing at his weekly jam session, on a porch, at a dance or festival, it is all the same. He presents his music in its natural state, no glitz, no Cool Whip, no glamour.
Today Savoy travels and plays music either with the Savoy Family Band (which features his wife Ann and their two sons, Joel and Wilson) or with the Savoy Doucet Cajun Band (featuring famed Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet and Ann). He has recorded nine CDs on the Arhoolie label and has traveled throughout the US, Europe, and Canada.  Savoy loves being in Louisiana where he is known for being an outspoken cultural preservationist, fighting to keep the music pure and unadulterated.

“..Marc Savoy is..the finest Cajun accordion player of the era. He has impeccable taste, is creative without ever being affected, and plays as hot as anyone yet his playing always sounds very relaxed, as if he’s having the time of his life...”
-Old Time Herald
“Marc, a master of the button accordion, astutely mixed emphatic chords with rippling arpeggios, and Ann, the rhythm guitar player, used her gorgeous voice to add a rare lyricism to what is primarily a social dance music.”
-Washington Post

 


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Ann Allen Savoy is a musician, photographer, record producer, and writer.  Her destiny was sealed when she began to listen to rare collections of Cajun 78’s. She met her future husband, acclaimed accordion builder/musician Marc Savoy, and after their marriage she began documenting the Cajun culture, taking photographs, interviewing important musicians, and transcribing the Cajun French songs. Her documentation ultimately became a book, Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Volume 1, which won the prestigious Botkin book award from the American Folklore Society. An avid photographer since high school, her photos have been exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and at the Festival of American Music in Eugene, Oregon.

Ann, a musician since the age of ten, began touring extensively with her husband and Michael Doucet as the Savoy Doucet Cajun Band , appearing in venues such as the Berlin Jazz Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. She and her friend Jane Vidrine also formed the Grammy nominated Magnolia Sisters, and all women band, to explore the womanly side of Cajun music. Currently she is proud to play in the Savoy Family Cajun Band, a band with her husband and two sons, Joel and Wilson.  She has recorded fifteen CDs on the Arhoolie, Rounder,Vanguard, and Memphis International labels.

Approached by Vanguard executive Steve Buckingham, Ann produced two tributes to Cajun and Creole music, the concept of these CDs being pop stars performing with traditional musicians. The first of these, Evangeline Made, was nominated for a Grammy. Shortly thereafter she was approached by T Bone Burnett to appear in the film “The Divine secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” and in the film appears as a musician in the 1940’s. Her songs from this film appear on the Sony soundtrack of the movie.

Her good friend, Linda Ronstadt, asked her to record a record of duets with her, and this CD, “Adieu False Heart”, was also nominated for a Grammy.

Today Ann lives in Eunice, Louisiana and continues to travel with her bands, recording, writing books, and appearing in films.

“Savoy has a plaintive, unvarnished delivery that conjures up images of clothing hung to dry in a backwoods backyard...she’s the last of a dying breed of performers”-

Entertainment Weekly

“Ann Savoy is a keeper of the flame-the kind of girl Duke Ellington had in mind when he wrote “Sophisticated Lady”. She doesn’t imitate the past, she animates it-she makes dead men walk along a crooked line from the paddocks of Virginia to the swamps of Louisiana. She’s a blues singer. In French.”

T Bone Burnett


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Joel Savoy, son of Cajun music royalty Marc and Ann, is one of the most requested fiddlers in SW Louisiana today. Growing up in Eunice, Louisiana, literally at the feet of Cajun heros like Dennis McGee, Dewey Balfa, Michael Doucet, and Wade Frugé (to name a few) Joel developed a strong sense of what makes Cajun Cajun and as a result, he has developed a fiddle style that is at once authentic and on the cutting edge. In performance he represents his culture with an authority that few people his age can and  his playing leaves no doubt that Cajun music is still very much alive. Well versed in music and a quick learner, he can be found playing with just about every band in SWLA a some time or other, though most often he’s seen with his  brother Wilson and their parents in the Savoy Family Band. In 2006 Joel founded Valcour Records which has since developed into what many believe to be the number one music source for what’s happening with the youth of Acadiana today. He’s worked and played with Linda Ronstadt,T-Bone Burnett, Steve Buckingham, Allison Krauss, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Miller, Tim O’Brien, Darol Angor and many more. Joel also builds accordions with his father, makes electric guitars and hi-end tube amps and studio gear, and is an excellent recording engineer. He lives on a small farm outside of Eunice with a dog and a rabbit and he loves a good cocktail on most any evening.

“Joel Savoy is one of the most exciting fiddlers I know. He can switch  
from sweet, sultry soulfulness to jaw-dropping complexity in a  
heartbeat. He never fails to leave his audiences moved, dazzled, and,  
more often than not, completely smitten”-Dirk Powell

“Joel Savoy is one of the finest fiddlers of his generation. Whether  
it's Cajun music, swing, or 'what have you' that he's playing, you can  
rest assured that his fiddling's gonna sound great.”-Paul Anastasio

"Joel Savoy is one of my favorite musicians on just about any instrument, but on guitar and Cajun Fiddle he is truly outstanding."-Linda Ronstadt

"Everything Joel Savoy touches turns to music."-T-Bone Burnett

 


Wil colorWilson Savoy, has known Cajun music since he was a child growing up on a farm near Eunice, Louisiana. At the age of 15, Wilson’s father, Marc, gave him an accordion that he built from the wood of a Sassafras tree that was planted the same day Marc's father was born, and died the same year as he. At the age of 18, Wilson began touring the world with his parents, Ann and Marc Savoy, and his brother, Joel Savoy, in the Savoy Family Band. Wilson attended LSU and studied Communications, and upon completing his minor in German, Wilson moved to Lafayette to be closer to the music that he so loved.

By age 21, Wilson was touring around the United States and France teaching accordion at music camps such as Augusta, Fiddle Tunes, and Tikendalc'h in Bretagne, France. Wilson's accordion style is influenced heavily by blues and improvisation, as his role models are Amédé Ardoin, Iry LeJeune, Lawrence Walker, and his father, Marc Savoy, but enjoys and continues to be influenced by old and modern Cajun, Soul, and Blues ranging from traditional and modern Cajun and Zydeco to Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis piano styles.Wilson heads his own young Cajun band, the Pine Leaf Boys, playing both accordion and fiddle. He records on the Lion's Gate label. Wilson has received an honorary state grant to study fiddle with the brilliant fiddle legend, Ken Smith. Wilson plays twin fiddle inspired by Ken Smith, Mike Doucet, Lionel Leloux, and David Greely.