Friday nights are alright
The clean chug of a Fender Telecaster splattered with sporadic drum fills floated over Parc International as Wayne Toups’ backup band sound-checked for the second installment of Downtown Alive! last friday night.
The sky was blue and the weather a pleasant 90 degrees, punctuated by an occasional warm breeze that circulated the aromas of food that, in true Louisiana tradition, accompany any and every social event.
It was 5:17 and everything was alright.
Delbert McClinton’s 1980 classic “Giving it Up For Your Love” washed over the assembling crowd. Groups of small children played an anarchic form of tag on the grass warning track that encircles the Parc while adults relaxed with their Budweisers in the polyester hugs of their folding chairs.
It was 5:47, and everything was alright.
“Howdy, everyone! Welcome to the weekend!”
The crowd was enormously receptive. Maybe it was the pulled pork sandwiches, the beautiful weather, the prospect of the world-renowned Toups performing or a combination of the three. Whatever it was, they were there and they were ready for a good time.
Toups and company stood offstage, watching and waiting. Tommy Shreve, guitarist, leaned over to Toups and said something. Toups laughed, but kept his eyes on the emcee out onstage getting ready to introduce him.
“The only thing smoking tonight is the music,” the emcee said, reminding the audience of the designated smoking areas. These were flouted nonchalantly; cigar smoke created yet another olfactory layer in the warm September evening.
It was 6:00 and everything was alright.
“Let’s give it up for the great, the legendary, Wayne Toups!”
Toups, or “Le Boss,” is known for his unique blend of R&B, zydeco, rock ‘n’ roll and traditional cajun music. “Zydecajun,” he calls it. It’s party music — and Wayne knew how to keep it hopping.
Leading off with a fast-paced rocker, Toups and his band kept the pace hot and the energy high. He did not stop for a breath until three songs later when they went into a slow waltz.
The musicians weren’t alone up on Parc International’s main stage — local artist Tony Bernard was displaying his skill as well by painting his iconic King George kingfisher into a commemorative DTA! piece.
Toups’ set alternated between swinging up-tempo tunes that showcased Shreve’s virtuosic guitar and soulful slow-dance numbers, including covers of Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” and James Brown’s “Try Me.”
It had been 25 years since Toups had played at Downtown Alive!. In that time, the event has developed into a Lafayette institution — a Friday night destination for young and old.
Friday night was alive, and everything was alright.