Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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Travis Matte and
 the  Kingpins

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
Travis 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 music.

At 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 posterior-themed songs. 

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 Jason Frey 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

Shown are Kevin Cormier on guitar, Travis Matte on accordion, Janson Matte on scrubboard, Bryson Simoneaux on drums, and Belton Richard on scrubboard. Janson, who is Matte's son, does the monkey sound on "Crawfish Boogie" on the first CD, "Get on that train girl!" as background vocals to "Zydeco Train" on the second CD, and background vocals at the end of "Hangover" on the third CD. The top photo was take at the Rice Festival. The photo immediately above was taken at Downtown Alive!

Posted 1-8-07.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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