Family bring taste of Cajun music to NZ

Womad 2013

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 07:57 05/02/2013
tdn cajun stand
The Savoy Family Cajun Band

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Ann Savoy has never met a Kiwi, but predicts she will be very fond of every single one she meets at Womad next month.

"I've met people from Australia - and I'm not saying they're the same - but I found them to be a lot of fun. Great beer drinkers."

When informed that New Zealanders like the odd beer too, the woman from Louisiana lit up.

"Oh good, we like that, that's a big part of our culture."

Ann and her husband, Marc, along with their sons Joel and Wilson, will descend on New Plymouth next month as one of 30 acts taking the stage at Womad 2013.

The Savoy Family Cajun Band plays a modern version of the traditional Cajun music which filtered into the United States during the 1700s.

Ann says it originated from the French-Canadian people who arrived in the United States in 1755.

"They had many influences down here to create the music which was then influenced by the native Americans, the black influence, a little bit of German and Texan influence, and eventually there was this unique pocket of music that is like nothing else anywhere.

"It's a combination of many things and it's in the French language for one, which in America is very unusual."

Although played by a minority of people, she says it has a strong following.

"Even though you possibly won't understand the lyrics it has this sound about it that's very magnetic and has a great rhythm to it. It makes you want to dance.

"It also has something that touches your heart. It's a lot of fun but touching at the same time."

The couple have been performing and recording together since 1977. Ann served as associate music producer on All The King's Men, wrote a song that was used in the film, and she, Joel and Wilson appeared alongside Sean Penn as musicians.

Ever since their sons were old enough to play instruments, she said the Savoys were destined to become a family band. "They've got other bands also, but, when they got old enough and good enough and could play with us that's what we wanted to do. Fortunately they wanted to do it too."

Playing together gives them a sense of "togetherness", which allows them to play tight, enjoyable music, she says.

"You can sense we have fun together and fortunately we don't have that 'young man hates the parents'-type thing going on. We get on great and it's a lot of fun."

Mum and Dad look after the accordion, guitar and vocals, while Joel plays the fiddle and Wilson the piano.

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Based three hours west of New Orleans, the family has spread its sound across the United States, as well as Europe and Britain, where they played at Womad last year.

"It was pretty mind-blowing - it was enormous and it was just brilliantly received. We were shocked by how many people were there and it was such a free-spirited event.

"We expect New Zealand to be much the same." Having not visited before, Ann says she is leaning on the feedback from others as she tries to picture it.

"I just know New Zealand is gorgeous because I've heard that my entire life. I plan to sit down and read everything about it before I come out.

"I hear your city is really amazing, that you have a mountain like Mt Fuji, and you have the sea there too which is my favourite thing in the world."

Ann says the whole family is incredibly honoured to be attending Womad and couldn't wait to mix and mingle with the different musicians from all over the world.

"It's incredible, I can't really get my mind around how far we're coming. I'm hoping to get around and see as many musicians as I can.

"And eat some good food. I hear there's going to be some good food at the festival from around the world."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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