As the leader of his band Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Carrier continues to tour and attract new fans to the music he has known and loved his whole life.
Hailing from Church Pointe, Louisiana, Carrier was steeped in the musical traditions of Zydeco as a child. His father, grandfather, and cousins were important Zydeco musicians and encouraged him to play accordion as well as drums. So evident was his talent that his father invited him to play on stage when he was just twelve. Located in Acadia Parish, a Zydeco stronghold, Church Pointe is situated near some large cities like Lafayette where musicians were in demand to play venues catering to Zydeco and its fans. Of course, the music world recognizes Church Pointe as the “Cajun Music Capital of the World” for its large population of professional Cajun musicians.
Growing up in this musically rich culture inspired Carrier yet also challenged him. Talent was all around him and playing with talented musicians also imbued him to grow and continue to hone his playing. What began as an enjoyable hobby became a means to an enriching career, a life of music–the kind of music that celebrated his culture and his home. Though he played with Terrance Simien during much of the 1980s, he decided to launch his own band in 1989 with his brothers. Their work and career would lead them to the forefront of Zydeco music.
Bayou Swamp Band
Known as an accordion virtuoso, Carrier infused his band with a drive that would prompt them to record ten albums during their twenty-year span. Though Zydeco was the cornerstone of their recordings and live shows, the band also ramped up their sound with other influences like funk, blues, rock and roll, and more. Their music became celebrated for its Creole roots, its unmistakable Zydeco flair which seemed to make everybody move and listen well, no matter where they played.
Aside from the critically acclaimed album, Zydeco Junkie, other notable offerings include Dance All Night (1993), Ain’t No Party Like a Chubby Party (2003), and Bayou Road (2006). Each album released proved to be an important step for the band, a record of their growth and artistic evolution. In many ways, Zydeco Junkie is a remarkable culmination of all these years even though it easily stands on its own as a great work of Zydeco.
More to the Artist than Music
Having gone so far in his musical career, Carrier understood that he could influence others to help support worthy causes. As a humanitarian, Carrier particularly cares strongly for children’s causes. Not only has he supported children’s educational projects and smoke-free environments for children, he is an active sponsor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana. His band has led fundraising events for this non-profit group that is so instrumental in the lives of regional children. The turnouts for these endeavours are spectacular as fans converge to hear Carrier and his Bayou Swamp Band performing for a worthy cause.
Carrier’s most recent project is to work with the Acadiana Symphony & Conservatory of Music to promote Zydeco among the younger generations. As an integral part of the thread, Carrier is a Zydeco legend; his willingness to inspire new generations of Zydeco playing helps ensure that this form of music will continue to flourish and remain an essential ingredient of Bayou life. Carrier is now providing musical instruction and his students are treated to Zydeco’s vibrant history as well as the myriad of instruments and techniques that make it so unique among musical genres.
The Wider World
Recently Carrier has participated in various documentaries. One is based on Zydeco and is due to be released in the very near future. The other is, of course, the IMAX documentary “Hurricane on the Bayou” in which Carrier is featured. These films may have their roots in the Bayou, but they are meant for a wider audience on a national–even an international scale. The Grammies also bring attention to Zydeco and its homelands. This international recognition has been an honour for Carrier , and immensely deserved. The Grammy comes at a time in the band’s career when they’ve made so much wonderful music over such a long time span. The award celebrates Carrier’s musical influence and universal appeal.
Keep Making Them Dance
A Grammy, professional instruction, a long career composing and delivering acclaimed music–some might think Carrier and his band have done everything they set out to. Yet, they play on and have dates posted on their website just like any other hard-working band. Playing music is still at the heart of who they are and bringing Zydeco to a live audience is still a thrill they relish. Certainly their recordings are lively and enjoyable, but catching a live performance–especially one in Bayou-country–is truly something, an experience that no Zydeco fan should miss.