Trailblazer | Music
There’s an old joke around Lafayette and elsewhere that goes something like this: There are 100 bands in town, but only 10 musicians. The joke may be hyperbole but saying that Chris Stafford has played with almost all of them is not. While he has backed up many of Acadiana’s musicians, Stafford first burst onto the local music scene as one of the founding members of the band Feufollet when its musicians were barely bigger than the instruments they played. Being in French immersion empowered him not only to sing in French, but to comprehend the words and their meaning as well. In addition to rejuvenating some classic Cajun tunes, he also composes new songs in French. The lyrics of “Les Jours Sont Longs” are so poetic they were included in a recent anthology of Louisiana French literature.
With preternatural talent, he basically taught himself to play the many instruments he masters, including the accordion from which he was able to squeeze out a song the moment he ever touched one. Others took a little longer, like the notoriously difficult steel pedal guitar, which he learned by listening to Jeff “Skunk” Baxter perform on Steely Dan numbers over and over again. His autodidactic approach also led to a second, related career in recording music. He was gifted a Sony 4-track minidisc recorder, turning his bedroom into his first studio. He later got a Roland multitrack recorder which he used to cut tracks for himself and friends. Being a millennial, Stafford gleaned recording techniques from early Internet chat forums, honing his skills. This growing passion eventually led to the creation of Staffland Studio in downtown Lafayette because, as he says, “My mom got tired of cables running all over the house.” His studio credits sound like a Who’s Who of local musicians: Cedric Watson, Steve Riley, The Revelers and Blake Miller to name a few. With nearly 25 years of experience, including a stint as the guitarist in the decidedly not Cajun band The Viatones, Stafford now loves playing Cajun music, as he says, “correctly.” “I find the music so satisfying as it has stood the test of time.” When asked if he ever considered doing anything else, Safford replied, “Music is the only thing I was ever interested in. At this point, it’s all I know how to do.” With talent like that, it’s all he needs to know.