Any Cajuns who are worried about their language and culture slipping away and becoming forever lost to younger generations should take a look at a group of young musicians who bill themselves as Feufollet. When it formed in the late '90s, the six-member band was composed of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17. Several members speak French fluently thanks to their participation in French immersion programs, and the band's traditional Cajun songs and original numbers are performed in French both at home in the U.S. and abroad. Some songs in the band's repertoire are numbers for twin fiddles that have been passed down through the generations from as far back as the 19th century. In 1999, the group performed in Canada for an audience that included France's president. That same year, the band's first recording was released. Steve Riley acted as producer for the self-titled album from Swallow Records, and the album was nominated by the Cajun French Music Association in the category of Best First Album. The first part of the group's name, "la bande," is a reference to a unit that has come together in brotherhood, not to a grouping of musicians, which would be "le band." "Feufollet" refers to the phenomenon of mysterious balls of light or fire that are sometimes seen in swamp areas and are the result of gases. The band's members are Christopher Stafford, Chris Segura, Ashley Hayes, Brittany Polaski, Matt Cormier, and Michael Stafford, who is Christopher Stafford's brother.
Christopher Stafford is a songwriter and he plays the fiddle, guitar, accordion, bass, trumpet, and piano. He also gives musical instruction on the fiddle. He took up the accordion in 1995 when he played with Les Petits Amis, a group that evolved into a band called les Acadiens Cajun, and later into Feufollet. His numerous credits include top honors in 1997 in accordion competitions held at the Frog Festival and the Buggy Festival, and he repeated the feat the following year at the latter event. Segura took up the fiddle when he was four years old and went on to win the fiddle championship at the Eunice Folklife Festival in 1997, the Rayne Frog Festival the following year, the Crowley Rice Festival in 1998, and again two years later, when he also took top honors for his age group in the Louisiana State Fiddling Championship. He is related to pioneers of Cajun recording the Segura Brothers. Hayes first became involved with music when she was ten years old. At first she concentrated on country music before joining la Bande Feufollet in early 1998. Polaski came to the band late that same year. At Festival International, she sang the National Anthem in 1998 and again the following year. Michael Stafford plays drums for the band, and previously was a member of the group les Acadiens. ~ Linda Seida