For the Savoys, family is music and vice versa. The zydeco band will perform here Saturday. From left, the Savoys are Wilson, Joel, Marc and Ann.

Since 2008, when the Grammys presented a new award for best zydeco or Cajun music album, members of the Savoy Family Band have been involved in eight out of the 20 nominations in that category.

While the Savoy family (pronounced Sav-wah) received the nominations for members' side projects, it shows just how big a part the Savoys play in this traditional music genre.

The family band - making its first Tucson appearance on Saturday - is from Eunice, La., in the middle of Cajun Country. It is made up of parents Marc and Ann and children Joel, Wilson and Sarah. Marc (accordion and vocals) and Ann (lead vocals and guitar) began writing and recording together in 1977. The children became full-time members in their late teens.

They sing in French and use traditional instrumentation of accordion, fiddle, acoustic guitar on songs dating back as much as seven generations. Even their original compositions are in the traditional style.

But the music isn't completely without modern influence. Son Wilson Savoy, now 29, spices up the traditional sound with his Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired piano style.

Sarah, who lives in Paris, is performing with her band, Sarah Savoy and the Francadians, and won't be able to make the trip to Tucson, her mother said in a phone interview last week.

Traditional Cajun music originated with the Acadian people, who fled from France to Canada and then to the U.S., finally settling in Louisiana in the mid-18th century, bringing their language and their music with them.

"There's magic in traditional music," Ann Savoy said from her Louisiana home. "It's a gift from our ancestors.

"Music is a natural occurrence in our family. It's a very organic part of our lives."

As practiced by the Savoys, it begins with Marc playing the accordion and the rest of the family putting words to his melody, as the fiddle, guitar and piano fall into place.

The family also runs the Savoy Music Center in Eunice, where Marc makes and sells accordions. He has also hosted a Saturday morning jam session for the past 35 years where "a lot of young accordion players learn their chops," said Ann.

Ann has a local connection, having recorded the 2006 Grammy-nominated album "Adieu False Heart" with Linda Ronstadt. The album, recorded in Louisiana, featured an all-star lineup of Cajun and Nashville, Tenn., musicians.

If you go

• What: The Savoy Family Band

• When: Saturday. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. ,and there will be free Cajun dance lessons at 7 p.m.

• Where: Suite 147 in Plaza Palomino, at Fort Lowell and Swan roads.

• Tickets: $20 in advance; $23 at the door, and can be purchased at Antigone Books, all Bookman's locations, Grey Dog Trading Company in Plaza Palomino and online at

Did you know

Zydeco originated from black creole music and is today often played with an accordion, electric guitar, bass guitar, washboard and sometimes fiddle, and sung in Louisiana Creole French and English. Cajun music comes from the Acadian people and is traditionally played with an accordion, fiddle, acoustic guitar and still is usually sung in Cajun French.

Learn to dance

Jeremiah "JP" Peabody, accordion player and singer for Tucson's Black Leather Zydeco band, will give dance lessons a half hour before the show.

Peabody is one of the hosts of Tabasco Road, heard each Sunday from 6 to 8 pm on KXCI 91.3 FM.

Nicholas Scala is a University of Arizona student apprenticing at the Star. Contact him at