Photos above were taken at Downtown Alive!
in Lafayette Nov. 3, 2006; at the
Crowley International Rice Festival
Oct. 18, 2006 (including the crowd shot);
and at Nick's on 2nd in Eunice the Friday
before Mardi Gras 2006. The
ladies above are dancing to the sounds of
Matte's hit song "Vibrator" at
Nick's on 2nd.
Note: Matt Cormier, bass
player with the Kingpins,
died Aug. 25, 2007, as the result of a work injury.
He was a truly talented musician who played both
accordion and fiddle and sang French vocals. It is
tragic to lose someone at such a young age who had
such promise carrying on the family legacy of Cajun
left are thumbnails of Matt playing accordion at the
Liberty in 2004 and fiddle (with Jr. Melancon) in 2005.
Click to view larger versions.
Click here for photos posted on Flickr.
Click to visit the Official Site
of Travis Matte and the Kingpins, which offers schedules,
downloads, and merchandise.
Update: In 2008, the Kingpins released
a new CD whose title, Hip-Hop Zyderock, describes the band's
creation of a new sound that is drawing crowds throughout Southwest
Louisiana and beyond.
Travis Matte is a top Cajun
fiddler who decided to take his music in new directions, mastering the
accordion and putting together a new band that quickly became the most
popular party band in Acadiana. He originally called his group the Zydeco
Kingpins (he has since dropped "zydeco"). But, even though the title of the group’s first CD proclaims,
“dis ain’tcha momma’s zodico,” the liner notes make it clear that Matte
is not trying to reinvent himself as the next Keith Frank: “Influenced
by several genres of music such as Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp Pop, Rock,
Country, and Alternative, Travis just doesn’t just like one style of
music. Instead he just appreciates good music played well!”
As promised in the notes, the CD
dis ain’tcha momma’s zodico, released in 2004, offers plenty of
good music played well. The two songs receiving the most airplay have
been Matte’s own compositions, “Barbecue and Drink a Few” (the CD
includes a video of the band playing the song) and “Crawfish Boogie.”
Other original songs include “Dog Without a Bone” (done to the tune of
“Midland Two-Step”), “Yuh Baby Look So Damn Fine,” “A Fish in a Pan”
(done to the tune of “Pointe aux pins”), “Zydeco Go Go,” and “Zydehop”
Matte covers several pop songs
including “Rockin’ Robin,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and
“Going Up the Country.”
He also sings four songs in
French: “Lacassine Special,” “Kaplan Mix” (“Kaplan Waltz,” followed by a
two-step version), “Dear Rosa” (Dennis McGee’s “Adieu Rosa”) with Matte
on fiddle, and “Reno Waltz.”
The next year, the
Kingpins followed up with Zydeco Train. Thanks to air time on
KBON radio in Eunice, “Vibrator,” a song describing the posterior
movement of a large dancing woman, became a regional hit, and the
Kingpins began to draw even larger crowds at dancehalls throughout
Acadiana. “Booty Call” reinforced the band’s association with
On the second CD, Matte no
longer sings in French but wrote English words for “Eunice Two-Step”
(“Sugar Daddy”) and Canray Fontenot’s “Tes parents veulent plus me voir”
(“Your Daddy Don’t Want Me Around”).
“Shoulda Coulda,” an original
swamp pop song on the CD that features saxophonist Willie “Tee,” has a
broad appeal for listeners of all ages.
Matte also covers of a wide
spectrum of popular music: Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Jenny, Jenny,” Ritchie
Valens’ “La Bamba” (sung in Spanish), Bruce Springsteen’s “Summer of
69,” John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising” (with echoes of “Quo faire” in the
melody), Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday,” and Chubby Checker’s “Twist.”
The band’s 2006 CD really pushes
the booty envelope. Booty Zydeco offers more posterior-oriented
songs, including several with lyrics that can’t be played on the radio:
“I’d Tap Dat,” “Slap That A--,” and “Wam Bam Thank You Mam,” which,
though it contains no four-letter words, has explicit sexual
references. Several other songs focus on similar themes.
All but three of the 21 cuts are
originals. The cover songs are Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman,” the
perennial favorite “Keep on Knocking” with some nice saxophone work by
Tray Hayes, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone.”
Everything on the third CD is in
English, but Matte does use the melody of “Scott Playboys Special” for
his song “Cheech and Chong,” and “Without You I’m Not Me” echoes the
sound of “Bonsoir Moreau.” In “Tickle My Fiddle,” Matte sings English
lyrics to his own song “Va attrape mon violon” from the CD he did in
and Lagniappe in 2000.
The most popular song on the CD,
at least for anyone with ties to LSU, is non-booty related. “Tiger
Tailgate Party,” which has gotten a lot of airplay, hits all the right
notes for any LSU fan.
Matte’s other 2006 CD was a
collection of Christmas music titled Ho Ho Ho, which includes
humorous songs like “Santa Claus Don’t Wear No Drawers” as well as songs
with a more traditional Christmas emphasis.
In addition to being an
excellent musician, Matte also knows how to market his music, expanding
his offerings to include a variety of merchandise and a large selection
of ring tones.
Matte’s move away from Cajun
music to explore other forms of musical expression and the wide
popularity he has gained as a result have not always pleased
traditionalists. He remains one of the best Cajun fiddlers around.
During the 1990s, he performed with many Cajun musicians like Belton
Richard, Jackie Caillier, Wayne Toups, and Robert Jardell, and he was
named Fiddler of the Year by the Cajun French Music Association in 1994,
1997, and 2001. In interviews, Matte has in no way indicated that he is
rejecting the tradition that he has helped to carry on. Travis Matte
and the Kingpins have a large, enthusiastic following, and he is
a professional musician who does an excellent job of giving his fans
what they want while maintaining his own high musical standards. Some of
us might like to see the Kingpins in the future record a few more French
songs like the ones included on the first CD, but meanwhile Matte is
introducing a wider audience of younger fans to the Kingpins’ version of
musical styles rooted in Southwest Louisiana.
–David Simpson, Jan. 8, 2007