A brief history…
Kevin Naquin started playing accordion when he was on 13 years old. About a year later, he placed second in the 1994 junior accordion contest sponsored by Mulate’s Restaurant in Breaux Bridge. He learned fast partly because he worked hard at it, but also because he just had it in him. Two of his great-grandfathers were legendary Cajun musicians (fiddler Edius Naquin and accordionist Hadley Fontenot) who helped to keep the music alive during the lean years prior to the Cajun renaissance of the 1960s and 70s.
Heavily influenced by Don Montoucet of the Wandering Aces, and Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys, Kevin has developed his own style of music and has gone on to win even more music awards: in 2004 he and his band dominated the Le Cajun Awards given by the Cajun French Music Association by winning Band of the Year, Best Recording of the Year, which was “Bayou Groove,” Song of the Year, which was “C’est trop tard,” written by Kevin Naquin & Ashley Hayes, Accordionist of the Year (Kevin Naquin), Fiddler of the Year (Louis Dronet) & Female Vocalist of the Year (Ashley Hayes).
People’s Choice Award – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2015)
Band of the Year – Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys (CFMA 2015)
Album of the Year – JAMAIS GUARANTEE (CFMA 2015)
Song of the Year – No Guarantee (CFMA 2015)
Accordionist of the Year – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2015)
CD of the Year – Cravin’ Cajun (CFMA 2011)
Song of the Year – Les Fordoches (CFMA 2011)
Best Accordionist – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2004)
Best Fiddler – Louis Dronet (CFMA 2004)
Female Vocalist of the Year – Ashley Hayes (CFMA 2004)
Best Recording – “Bayou Groove” by Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2004)
Band of the Year – Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys (CFMA 2004)
Song of the Year – “It’s Too Late” (CFMA 2004)
Accordionist of the Year – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2002)
Band of the Year – Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys (CFMA 2002)
Best Recording of the Year – “Au Coup D’eclair” (CFMA 2002)
Accordionist of the Year – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2000)
Best Recording of the Year – “Pour La Premiere Fois” (CFMA 2000)
Male Vocalist of the Year – Kevin Naquin (CFMA 2000)
Song of the Year – “Je Suis En Amour Avec La Femme Que J’ai Marier” (CFMA 2000)
Band of the Year – Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys (CFMA 2000)
Blues Reviews (November 2022)
Kevin Naquin – La Musique Traditionnelle Debranchee
A Cajun song always has a dance in it. Its story, flowing out in streams of Acadian French, can agonize as majestically as “Marié avec une, en amour avec une autre (Married to One and in Love with Another)” or wrestle so somberly as “J’aimerais te pardonner (I’d Like to Forgive You).” Yet the music delivering the news makes a beeline to the feet. “Quand j’étais pauvre (When I Was Poor)”—feet. “Evangeline Special”—feet. The good news of “Voyage d’amour (My True Love)”—feet.
For the listener, this is not really sit-down music. Certainly not sit-still music. Kevin Naquin and his motivational accordion have been keeping people from sitting—or, at a minimum, sitting still—for many a year and by way of many an album. He’s one of the best out there. Validation is his wheelbarrow full of Cajun French Music Association awards for, essentially and repeatedly, Everything of the Year (Band, Album, Song, Accordionist, Vocalist). This time, however, bringing turbocharged dancehall nights to life in the studio with his plugged-in Ossun Playboys is not the assignment.
Translated, La Musique Traditionnelle Debranchee spells out the mission: Traditional Music Unplugged. Naquin’s squeezebox kicks up dust with other grab-and-go instruments: two fiddles, acoustic guitar, bass, brushed snare drum, and ting-a-ling triangle. The Playboys are here—just not their amplifiers. Their 11 dancing stories are as much at home around the kitchen table or beneath the shade of the grand hickory tree outback or right there on the proverbial splintery, woodslatted porch. Electrified by nothing more than pure musical spirit, the original “Hard Naq’s Special” runs laps, burning off excess energy, whereas Lawrence Walker’s “Chere Alice” whirls about, an emotional gut-punch in waltz-time. And for both, yes—feet.
by Dennis Rozanski
OffBeat Magazine (June 2018)
Kevin Naquin – Man in the Mirror
Considering this is Kevin Naquin’s 11th album of his 23-year career, he manages to pack plenty of artistic firsts into these dozen tracks. It’s the first time he’s recorded a contemporary country ballad, “Please Say You’ll Stay” (written by local songwriter Bryan Perrin), and the arrangement demonstrates the Ossun Playboys’ versatility in pulling off something a little more radio-friendly.
But Cajun music still remains the epicenter of Naquin’s musical DNA. Two new co-written originals with ULL Professor Emeritus Barry Ancelet serve as the disc’s centerpiece. The title track, a stirring waltz, is about a guy content with his integrity; the blasting “Belle journée” chronicles a comical day in a conked-out fishing boat. Naquin achieves another first by transforming Pee Wee Broussard’s “Everybody Waltz” into “Everybody Two Step,” an infectious track with a southern rock tinge.
However, on previous albums, Naquin didn’t rely on his signature straight up Cajun dancehall style but rendered “Lemonade Song” and “J’ai été au bal” a la Wayne Toups–inspired zydecajun. Additionally, Naquin achieves yet another first with a blended regional roots sound that also embraces zydeco, Creole, swamp popped Sam Cooke soul (“Bring It On Home”) and vintage country (“Crazy Arms”) with Don Hayes’ rollicking ivories.
As part of nurturing the next generation, Naquin’s teenage daughter Kaleigh sang capably and played guitar on the Keith Whitley/Alison Krauss popularized “When You Say Nothing At All.” Overall, it’s a different look for Naquin, but a welcome one that’s his most diversified platter to date.
by Dennis Rozanski
Blues Reviews (August 2014)
Kevin Naquin – Jamais garantie
It’s hard to imagine Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys sounding any better than it did on 2010’s Cravin’ Cajun, where everything fit neatly into place.
Despite the tragic passing of mega-talented bassist/vocalist Seth Guidry, Naquin somehow pulls it off again with a few new members: drummer Andre Gary and steel-guitarist Marty Broussard (veteran sideman of Mark Chesnutt, Wayne Toups and Tracy Byrd) as well as fiddle mainstay Beau Thomas, one of the best dancehall stylists around. From the onset, the Ossun Playboys slam it hard, practically busting out of the gate on “Ossun Two Step.”
The song selection here is smart, with tunes that haven’t been overly recorded such as Sheryl Cormier’s “La Bouteille” and Paul Daigle’s “La Petite Robe Courte.” The proceedings’ crown jewel (and lone original), “La vie est jamais garantie” is quite stirring with its inspiration drawing from memories of close pal Guidry and recently deceased grandfather Bee Naquin.
Two songs are played in the squarer, old-school style of Naquin’s accordion mentor Don Montoucet, while “Mamou Two Step” aligns closer with the style of great-grandfather Hadley Fontenot, who’s famous for his tenure with the Balfa Brothers.
It seems that an album of only Cajun standards and originals is no longer the norm but should include a few English-vocals crossover pop hits to hook diverse audiences. Normally I’m not a fan of such fodder, but John Fred’s “Judy in Disguise” is exhilarating, while Lee Michaels’ “Do You Know What I Mean” is an inviting soul strutter.
Along with Naquin’s ability to inject excitement in his vocals, the Ossun Playboys have the goods to conquer new frontiers while keeping its home base intact.
Blues Reviews (August 2014)
Kevin Naquin – Jamais garantie
STOCK UP on oxygen beforehand, because chances to catch a breath evaporate once these guys command the room. Confident, energetic and ambitious, accordion-crushing Kevin Naquin is the go-to man when it comes to making Cajun dancehalls kick nowadays. And just like everything he and his Ossun Playboys have ever done before, No Guarantee is designed to yank people out of their seats.
Even the steady, easy sweep of “Big Boy Waltz” is a body mover. Same goes for “Life is Never Guaranteed,” Naquin’s personal tribute to both his recently-lost grandfather and co-crooning bassman Seth Guidry. But now, more than ever, No Guarantee yanks the farthest, extending its catchy reach. It’s a rip-roaring Cajun record for sure. But one that works to please everyone by sporadically injecting rocked-out guitar solos, female backup singers, vocals slipping in and out of English and French, tactical horn power, and the springloaded boing of “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses).”
Both of Louisiana’s anthems get saluted: “Allons à Lafayette” for the Cajun Nation; “Zydeco est pas sale” for the Creole Kingdom. And Naquin keeps right on sewing his oats, quoting Clapton’s “Cocaine”—on squeezebox—right before pouring the barroom singalong of “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” (no, not John Lee Hooker’s). The propulsive Playboys’ push makes floor-fillers out of everyone from hometeam Lawrence Walker to honky-tonk Merle Haggard to AM Gold rocker Lee Michaels (whose 1971 nugget “Do You Know What I Mean” shreds a fiddle).
This much get-on-up fun should come with an extra cover charge.
By Dennis Rozanski
The Advertiser (July 2014)
Kevin Naquin – Jamais garantie
Musician Seth Guidry has a song on Kevin Naquin’s new CD. Guidry was the tune’s inspiration and he even played bass on it. But Guidry never heard the final product. Guidry became ill with the flu and complications followed. He died Dec. 15 of last year. He was only 24 years old. Seth’s song became a Cajun French waltz with a fitting title — “Life is Never Guaranteed.”
“Seth and I were supposed to get together throughout the process and write a song,” said Naquin. “When he passed away in December and that’s when my dad, myself and Barry Ancelet got together with the words. I came up with the music and Barry did the translation. “Seth played on that track, but he never got to hear it. He never heard the final mix before it was done.” Guidry’s spirit and music lives on in the song and the title of Naquin’s latest CD, “Jaime Garantie (No Guarantee),” published on Swallow Records in Ville Platte. The 14-song disc is the 10th in Naquin’s Cajun music career and eighth with his award-winning band, the Ossun Playboys.
Naquin and band play numerous standards, like Sheryl Cormier’s “La Bouteille (The Bottle),” “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” and Clifton Chenier’s “Zydeco est past Sale’ (No Salt in the Beans).” But the Playboys pulled some pleasant surprises with a bilingual version of Merle Haggard’s “My House of Memories,” “Do You Know What I Mean,” the Lee Michaels Top 10 pop hit from 1971, and “Judy in Disguise,” a No. 1 song in U.S. and Europe for John Fred and the Playboys in 1968.
“Memories” and “Do You Know” feature Trey Hayes on sax, Marshall Cyre on trumpet and vocalist Charlene Howard. Naquin said “Judy in Disguise” was a last-minute suggestion from Grammy-winning producer Tony Daigle. “He said was needed one more, different song that nobody’s tried to redo,” said Naquin. “It took us a long time to figure it out. Everybody in the band was aggravated with that song because nobody had ever played it before. The steel (guitar player) had to learn its part. I had to learn the accordion. It was a very challenging song. But when we were done with it, everybody was extremely happy with the way it turned out.”
The disc is already opening doors. Naquin and band make their first trip to the Minnesota State Fair Aug. 23-24. The Playboys move on to Canada Aug. 29-30 for Festival Acadien et Evangeline at Prince Edward Island. They return Sept. 1 for the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City. Naquin said the band is moving on and carrying Guidry’s memory with them.
“It still hurts to lose Seth. I still think about him. Everybody does. I had to take a step back because it was like somebody punched me in the gut. We had all that momentum and we were moving forward. Now we have Jimmy Hebert to play bass and he’s done an outstanding job, filling those shoes and helping out with vocals and harmonies. I feel really good. This is an opportunity to expand the market for the band. If we want play a traditional folk festival, we can do it. If we want to play a casino or private, we can do that. The band is well diversified. We can play anywhere. The future Is bright and I think we have a lot of growth ahead of us.”
by Herman Fuselier
Juke Blues Magazine, Issue #71 (2011)
Kevin Naquin – Cravin’ Cajun
Billed as one of the hottest Cajun bands to ever come out of the swamps, Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys have earned praise in these review columns before. The six-piece band from south Louisiana declare that their intention is to play with the drive and passion which keeps the dance floor packed, and the music on this CD certainly reflects that ambition. The traditional side of Cajun music is represented by numbers such as “Old Crowley Two Step” and waltzes like “Little Black Eyes,” although the sound is contemporary with the rhythm section prominent but never at the expense of the fiddle or steel guitar. Variety is offered with the rendition of Belton Richard’s swamp pop ballad “Another Lonely Night” (sung in French), where Pat Breaux guests on sax, as he does on the ’60s soul classic, “634-5789,” which follows. Naquin plays his Falcon accordion with fire, driving the opener, Aldus Roger’s “Creole Stomp,” at a relentless pace. Another strong album to welcome from this award-winning band who are very popular in their home territory.
written by Richard Trapp
Driftwood Magazine, March 2011
Kevin Naquin – Cravin’ Cajun
Between the years 2000 and 2004, Kevin Naquin won over a dozen Cajun French Music Association awards. It’s not surprising that he’s such a good accordion player with two great-grandfathers who were well-known musicians, besides having had legendary accordion-player Don Montoucet of the Wandering Aces as an occasional babysitter as a young child. With Cravin’ Cajun, Kevin Naquin has come out with an especially strong album. Besides reaping the benefit of guest musicians on several tracks, Naquin’s current band, which includes Beau Thomas on fiddle, John Gary on steel guitar, and Seth Guidry in bass, is his best yet. The material includes two songs co-written with Barry Ancelet as well as classic songs by Aldus Roger, Lawrence Walker, Don Rich, and Camey Doucet.
Belton Richard’s “Another Lonely Night” (or “Un autre soir ennuyant”) is almost on a par with the peerless rendition that appears on Bruce Daigrepont’s debut album from 1988. That track and “634-5789,” the soul classic from the Sixties, feature Pat Breaux on tenor sax and Marshall Cyr on trumpet. The album closes with a rendition of John Ellison’s “Some Kind of Wonderful” (the Grand Funk Railroad hit as opposed to the King-Goffin song of the same title) which is quite possibly the best and most soulful cover of the song since the 1967 original by the Soul Brothers Six.
written by Paul D. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)
Kevin Naquin – Cravin’ Cajun
Kevin Naquin’s (naw-can) band is very popular in South Louisiana. This is his 8th release, one of his best. He has paid his dues and gained the respect of the Cajun people, having been given many awards by the CFMA (Cajun French Music Association). The band has had considerable membership change lately, but the latest changes are for the better, especially the return of John Gary (bass, steel guitar and vocals). Other new members are Beau Thomas, a seasoned fiddler, and Seth Guidry, a seasoned youngster on steel guitar.
Topnotch cuts include the two instrumental two-steps – “Creole Stomp” and “Old Crowley Two Step.” Gary shines on vocals on the beautiful waltzes, “Little Black Eyes” and “Mom, I’m Still Your Little Boy.” “Another Lonely Night” is a classic swamp song in Cajun french. “One Night At the Wagon Wheel,” one of the two new songs, tells of a love found and lost all in one night at the Wagon Wheel.
written by Dale “LeBlanc” Johnson
BluesRag October-November 2010
Kevin Naquin – Cravin’ Cajun
You Always Know when Kevin Naquin and his Ossun Playboys are around – you can physically feel the throb of their good vibrations. So big and bright and bold is the wall of sound that that a trail of two-steps has been left embedded in the bandstands they’ve played across South Louisiana. And it’s all done with standard Acadian armament, like fiddle and a real gutsy steel-guitar. Naquin, hollering out Cajun-French atop his blazing Falcon accordion, is their accelerant. And a seismic bass-drums combo provides extra dynamite kaboom. Hence, “One Night At the Wagon Wheel,” “Little Sister” and “My Old Home,” all steamroll while zooming at breakneck speed. “Another Lonely Night” is the converse, a slowdown weeper left to stew in its own tears. But the best barometer of their range is being able to swing from Aldus Rogers’ “Creole Stomp” to the Soulsville shout-along “634-5879” to Grand Funk Railroad’s chugging “Some Kind of Wonderful” and back to Lawrence Walker’s “Little Black Eyes” without ever losing credibility that they’re genuinely Cravin’ Cajun.
written by Dennis Rozanski
Blog Critics Magazine, April 13, 2008
Kevin Naquin – Call It What You Want
I was just thinking. I might be one of the leading reviewers of Cajun music on the internet. Not because I’m – you know – any good at it, but just because there aren’t that many people covering the genre, and that’s a shame. It’s a type of music that might appeal to a lot of listeners if it got a little more attention.
I’ve enjoyed Cajun music for years, but I have to confess that I certainly don’t consider myself an expert. That might explain why I wasn’t too familiar with Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys when I began working on this review, but I soon discovered that they’re one of the top Cajun groups around.
Over the last decade they’ve released no less than seven albums, and judging by their newest, Call It What You Want (Appelee-Le Ca Tu Veux), on the Swallow label, there’s a good reason for their popularity — these guys are outstanding.
Naquin, who comes from a family with several generations of musical history, is the heart and soul of the group, but his strong singing voice and nimble squeeze-box play are not the only weapons in their arsenal. The Playboys also feature Louis Dronet, Wayne Laverge, Tommy Bodin, Pat Stebbins, and Ashley Hayes (who doesn’t quite fit the name Playboy but is still a valuable member of the group).
If you’re new to Cajun music this might be the perfect album for you, because it’s filled with a well-organized mix of music that ranges from Cajun standards to newer pieces, including a couple of country songs given a Cajun twist. But established fans of the genre should find it equally entertaining because there are some real gems here.
Traditional Cajun pieces such as “Valse De La Vie,” and one of my favorites, “Johnny Can’t Dance,” leave little doubt that these guys can handle the old songs. But they’re equally at home with new stuff such as “All Night Long,” and a bonus track, “The Saints Are Coming,” written to celebrate the area’s favorite football team.
As mentioned before, they’ve also included a couple of traditional country songs that have been given a bayou reworking. Those include the old favorite, “Tennessee Blues,” and a Floyd Cramer/Conway Twitty tune, “After All The Good Is Gone.” Good stuff from a solid group, well worth a listen.
written by Big Geez
Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys – Never Satisfied and Mercredi Soir Passe
Kevin Naquin is a 27-year-old Cajun accordion player and vocalist whose great-grandfathers were the respected accordionist Hadley Fontenot and the lesser-known Eduis Naquin who played accordion, fiddle and harmonica as well as singing. Kevin’s inherited skills on accordion are fully apparent. He plays in a powerful manner, has a good, strong voice and also does some writing. His recording debut came in 1997 on cassette, and he has now released seven albums – of these two, “Never Satisfied” is from 2004 and “Mercredi…” 2006.
The earlier release is based on traditional Cajun stylings but with a more pronounced beat. The five-piece band is boosted by the excellent swamp pop saxman Willie Tee on two numbers, namely the Naquin-penned title track, a real hotstepper, and “Une Femme Pas Bonne” which is Rockin’ Sidney’s “No Good Woman” with French lyrics. Kevin has also co-written two songs with Johnnie Allan, a tribute to American servicemen who pay the ultimate price in the fast waltz “La Derniere Demande” and “J’ai Envie De Faire L’Amour”. “Dans Les Yeux Ce Soire” was also written by Allan, this time in conjunction with fiddle player Louis Dronet. Then there are cover versions of titles by the likes of Nathan Abshire, Iry LeJeune, Adam Hebert, Belton Richard and Austin Pitre, making up a fine album of predominately fast numbers (there are just four mid-paced waltzes) that was recorded at Mark Miller’s MasterTrack Studio in Crowley.
The more recent album indicates that Kevin has found his own style. He has changed his bass player and done away with a guitarist, replacing him with pedal steel, and the drums seem more prominent. The title track opens with a recording of Eduis Naquin and continues with Kevin’s development of the song in high energy fashion. It appears that Kevin has a sense of humor as he has co-written new words to the melody of Rockin’ Sidney’s “My Toot Toot” under the title “Ayou Mon Tennis Shoe” (with great sax from Pat Breaux) and he has also recorded Camey Doucet’s “Hold My False Teeth” and the popular “Opelousas Sostan.” There are a number of well-known songs here including Cookie & the Cupcakes’ rockin’ “Got You On My Mind”, D.L. Menard’s “La Porte En Arriere,” Clifton Chenier’s “Tee Na Na” with Derek Dugas on vocal, and other classics by Iry LeJeune, Dewey Balfa and Nathan Abshire.
This is another impressive album by a talented performer with a powerful band. As to which album to buy – take your pick. They are both well worth acquiring.
By Paul Harris