High resolution photos of Choupique from 2008 posted on Flickr.
Visit Choupique's official web site for more information about the band, as well as a performance schedule and sound files from the band's CD, Moi, Je Connais Pas.
Choupique is an excellent new Cajun band named for a fish that most people in Louisiana do not want to eat. But there is something to admire about the resilience of the choupique (known outside Louisiana as the bowfin), which has been around since prehistoric times, and a lot to like about the band named for the fish. (Actually, Choupique is also the name of a rural community north of Eunice in Evangeline Parish and of a town in Calcasieu Parish. As a child, fiddler Dennis McGee lived in the Evangeline Parish settlement, which has now all but vanished. The people have moved on, but the choupique are probably still plentiful in La Coulée Choupique near there.)
Most of us who were at LSUE circa 1990 remember Jesse Brown, Choupique's accordionist and lead singer. "Hey, isn't he that guy who sometimes used to go to class barefoot?" Yes, he's the one, and he is still barefoot on the cover of the band's first CD, sitting on a pier with his feet in the water posing with the other band members.
Brown was also an excellent student who went on to earn a degree at LSU and now lives in Baton Rouge.
A Eunice native, he first started playing accordion with his grandfather, the late Eddie Brown, and he has also received help with French vocals from his father, Bruce Brown. Besides mastering the accordion, Jesse has learned to play the fiddle (the band uses old-style twin fiddles on several numbers), as well as the mandolin. His wife, Anglyn, learned to play the Cajun guitar while Jesse was learning the accordion. Her acoustic guitar is featured prominently in songs like "Mardi Gras Horseman," written by Jesse and Danny Brown.
Bill Grass, a full-time musician who won several Louisiana State Fiddle Champion titles, plays fiddle on the CD, as well as guitar on a couple of cuts. Grass also performs with Lee Benoit's Cajun band, among other groups.
Warren Thomassie is a left-handed drummer who also sings lead vocals on several English songs that the band includes in their performance. Manny Gagliano, who plays both bass and acoustic guitar, has previous experience with several other musical genres.
The CD's title song, "Moi, je connais pas," is a lively two-step written by Jesse Brown in French and English, inspired by the complexities facing anyone in the Louisiana crawfish business.
Among the other songs on the CD, all arranged by the band, are "Les maringouins ont tout mangé ma belle" ("The Mosquitoes Ate My Girlfriend"), a traditional humorous song based on one of the less pleasant aspects of life in South Louisiana; "Blues de Voyage" by Amédé Ardoin and Dennis McGee; "La valse du malchanceux" ("The Unlucky Waltz"), a great Lawrence Walker song; Buckwheat Zydeco's "Zydeco Boogaloo"; Robert Osborne's "Back to Louisiana" (in English); and the traditional numbers "Johnny peut pas danser" and "Mardi Gras Jig" (Choupique played on the lead band wagon in the Eunice 2001 Courir de Mardi Gras).
The CD also features three instrumentals: "L'anse maigre" (the title refer to a rural area north of Eunice); "Clumsy Lover," a traditional Canadian song; and "Paw Paw's Waltz," a song that Jesse Brown's grandfather played for him (Choupique's version ends with a short recording made at home by Jesse of his late grandfather playing).
The CD liner includes both the French and English words to all of the songs, along with a number of photographs of the band.
During live performances, the band draws on a repertoire that includes a wide variety of popular Cajun songs, as well as swamp pop and Zydeco numbers.
For booking information, contact Jesse Brown in Baton Rouge at (225) 749-4809.
The photographs on this page were taken at Vermilionville in Lafayette in February 2001 and at the Liberty Theater in Eunice in June 2001.
Pictured are Jesse Brown on accordion at the top of the page. Anglyn Brown is shown on acoustic guitar. The band's regular fiddle player is Bill Grass. Warren Thomassie is on drums, and Manny Gagliano is shown playing bass guitar.
During the band's Liberty Theater performance, the fiddle player was Gina Forsyth, who performs regularly with Bruce Daigrepont.
All photographs and text by David Simpson.
Posted July 2001.
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