To call Balfa Toujours a band of All Stars would not be an exaggeration in the least. This exciting Cajun band from Louisiana, carrying on in the soulful, impassioned Balfa Brothers tradition, is led by Christine Balfa, daughter of the late, great Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa. Originally founded after Dewey’s death in 1993, the extended family band reemerged last year after a five year hiatus, revitalized and repopulated by some of the finest Cajun musicians on the scene today—each a well-respected musician in his or her own right who also plays with some of the most recognized contemporary Cajun bands. According to Christine, they’ve come together with the stated purpose of expressing music through good times and bad, and just celebrating life.
The band members include:
Christine Balfa, guitar and vocals. Christine grew up playing triangle with her father Dewey and absorbed music and language from the thriving culture around Basile, Louisiana. Her singing communicates powerful feelings directly to the heart, and she collaborates on many of the group’s original songs. You might have seen her cameo appearances in the 1986 movie, “The Big Easy” but you’ve probably enjoyed her performances more recently with the (mostly) all-women Cajun Band, Bonsoir Catin, which she also founded and which drew rave reviews at Gator By the Bay in 2012. Christine is the founder and director of Louisiana Folk Roots, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Louisiana traditions.
Yvette Landry, bass guitar, vocals. Yvette is one busy lady! Not only is the Breaux Bridge, La native an integral member of Balfa Toujours, she leads her own band, The Yvette Landry Band, and plays with both Bonsoir Catin and Lafayette Rhythm Devils, whom we loved last year at Gator By the Bay. By day, Yvette is an educator, teaching American Sign Language and Song Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and she has also taught bass, guitar, accordion and vocals at numerous music and dance camps. And if that isn’t enough, she just published her first children’s book!
Courtney Granger, fiddle, vocals. Master fiddler Courtney is a Balfa family cousin, evidenced in his powerful vocals and heavily Balfa-influenced fiddling. He originally joined Balfa Toujours as a teenager in 1999, but most people recognize him as the highly sought-after fiddler in the four-time Grammy nominated The Pine Leaf Boys, with whom he has played since 2008, including at Gator By the Bay in 2009.
Kevin Wimmer, fiddle. Kevin Wimmer, who has been playing fiddle since the tender age of three, performed frequently with Dewey Balfa and learned the essence of the tradition directly from him. One of the original members of Balfa Toujours, Kevin is best known today as the fine fiddler and powerful vocalist of the Grammy nominated Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, which he joined in 2011, performing with them at Gator By the Bay in 2012. He has also been a member of the Red Stick Ramblers and played with some of the biggest names in both Cajun and zydeco music.
Ryan Brunet, accordion. Ryan, raised on the Louisiana bayou in a French speaking household, was introduced to the accordion at the age of 12, and his passion for Cajun music was born. A multi-instrumentalist, he fronted his own band, Ryan Brunet & the Malfecteurs, wowing the Gator By the Bay crowds in 2012, and has played with The Dirt Pile Ramblers, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Kermit Venerable, Lafayette Rhythm Devils as well as the Grammy Nominated Pine Leaf Boys and Lost Bayou Ramblers. In 1999 he was honored by the Cajun French Music Association with their prestigious New Dawn Award.
Danny DeVillier, drums. In addition to playing the drums with Christine and Yvette in both Balfa Toujours and Bonsoir Catin, and with the Lafayette rock band FIGHTS!, Danny teaches music at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College and the Acadiana School of the Arts. He has shared the worldwide stage with some of Louisiana’s most well-known musicians and his arrangements and compositions include works for marching band, orchestra, percussion ensemble, dance, theater, and other mixed media.
All together, Balfa Toujours packs some powerful talent, and we are beyond excited to bring them to the Gator By the Bay stage! Look for the band’s latest cd, due out this year featuring both original music and traditional favorites.