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American Routes Shortcuts: The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band

The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band
The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band

The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band has been playing together since 1977. The band includes husband and wife Marc and Ann Savoy, on accordion and guitar respectively, and Michael Doucet of Beausoleil on fiddle. The trio has presented traditional Cajun music at Louisiana dance halls, major music festivals, and presidential inaugurations. They recently played a Cajun dance party in New Orleans’ French Market for the National Treasures Tour of Culture Bearers in National Parks. I sat down back home with the Savoys and Michael Doucet to talk about the band and their relationship as friends, family, and musicians. First, I asked Marc Savoy about his choice to continue family traditions of making and playing accordions.

Marc Savoy: I didn’t have any choice. Look at that guy up there, my great-grandpa staring down at me. If I had done anything differently, I’m afraid I would’ve had my toes pulled at night. His ghost would’ve come here and said, “You better wake up young man, get with the program.” I just fell in love with it from the day I heard it, simple as that. I wanted to see what I could do to perpetuate this thing and make sure that at least in my family I could have some kind of effect.

Nick Spitzer: You don’t just play the music though, you make the instrument, you make the accordion. I mean you could have just been a carpenter out doing other things or working in wood some other way.

MS: Well there’s a difference too. You really have to understand how to play it to know what to expect from it. How can you cook a good gumbo if you don’t know what it tastes like?

NS: Ann, say a little bit about where you’re from and how you end up here playing Louisiana French music.

Ann Savoy: I’m from Richmond, Virginia, and one night I was in my apartment in Richmond, and somebody called up and said, “You have to come over and see these films by Les Blank.” So I went over to look at them, and I was a French major in college, and I saw those films, and I was like, “What is this?” These are French-speaking people in America, and I’m a French major, and no one ever told me they were there in Louisiana.” So my boyfriend and I at the time went up to Wolf Trap, and I met Marc Savoy, and I was introduced to him by my Cajun friend in Richmond, Linda Marie. She said, “You’re going to love Marc, you have to meet him.” And I did love him! I actually fell madly in love with him that day. It was the weirdest thing. He was like no one I’d ever met, and yet we connected so much. It was like our whole–our value system, the love of French, the music he was playing blew me away totally, and I was a photographer and a musician. I thought, “I must go there.” French, music, documentation, that was in 1976, and I went, and I never wanted to come home. 

NS: So as a non-native Louisianan and not a Cajun, how is it playing with Marc?

AS: I didn’t come here to play music. Marc would go, “Sing Ann! Play the guitar. Somebody play!” He’d bring me to these all-men’s suppers, and it was like, the women were looking at me out of the corner of their eye. They were all in the kitchen, and I was out there playing the guitar for all the men, and they’d be cooking like squirrels floating in giant pots with squirrel heads and brains in the pots, and you know, here I am from Richmond, Virginia, and I was looking at that going, “Wow.” I was definitely in an all-man’s world. But Marc was just like, “Come with me!” He’d take me into all-men’s bars, and it was fascinating. I was smitten immediately.

NS: I spoke with old friend, fiddler and vocalist Michael Doucet about his role in the Savoy-Doucet band as the only non-family member.

Michael Doucet: The kids knew me as uncle growing up when they were just little termites. They had a barbecue or a meal at Marc’s house, so he asked me to go. Ann and I were playing, he said, “Come Ann, play this song.” And so we played the song, and Chris was walking around with his tape recorder. That’s how Savoy-Doucet began. We were on the same level as far as musical-wise. We understood this whole music and where it was and where it could be, etc. So we had a great time, and we played house parties, we played inaugurals, we played in Europe. It’s a great group, and for me, I loved it because it grounded me to do, as we say, if there’s such a thing as pure traditional, but traditional root music. 

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 5 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at americanroutes.org.