Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"La Valse Du Texas" - Angelas Lejeune & Ernest Fruge

Cajun accordion player Angelas Lejeune had learned to play at a young age.  By World War I, teenage Lejeune had become part of the region's musical network, collaborating and interacting with both Amede Ardoin and Dennis McGee.  LeJeune developed into a visible figure on southwest Louisiana's dance circuit, sometimes performing five nights a week at house dance in and around the rural Pointe Noire community.2  

Demand for French music also called the accordionist away to play lucrative gigs as far away as Texas.  After playing a dance in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McGee, Lejeune, and fiddler Ernest Fruge continued west to perform in Shiner, Texas.  Dennis recalled:
And over there, they tapped their feet. They jumped up, they cried out...they danced, danced, sweated, sweated.2  
Oct 1, 1929

Eh, chère, malheureuse, petite,

Criminelle, quoi faire tu fais ça avec ton nègre.

Oh, toi, quand j'ai parti pour aller,

Dans le Texas t'as parti, quoi mieux* 'tit monde, malheureuse.

Oh, éyou, (que) j'ai eu tout ma misère, 

C'est quand j'ai parti pour en revenir dans la Louisiane, qui est misérée.

Oh chère, si t'aurai voulu m’écouter, 
Tu serais pas dans les chemins aujourd'hui, mais, comme t'es,
Tu connais, chère, tu vas voir ton erreur, 
Tout ça là, pour tout ça tu m'as fait, malheureuse.

The receptive Texas audience paid the three musicians $80 for their appearance.   After winning an accordion contest back home, he and Ernest Fruge, along with many other Cajun musicians from the area descended on New Orleans in 1929 for a massive Vocalion/Brunswick recording session.   He would be called up the following year with Fruge and the duo would wax the tune "La Valse Du Texas" (#530). In 1934, Ardoin took the melody and stepped it up from a waltz to a two step, creating the "Le Midland Two Step".  McGee recalls playing with all of them:

I played with both accordion players. Angelas and Ernest and I played together as a trio.  When I played with Amede, we played just the two of us.1  

Angelas Lejeune (accordion)

Hey, dear, oh my, little one,
You're terrible, why have you done that to your man?

Oh, you, when I left to go,
To Texas, you left me, for the best*, little everything, oh my.

Oh, where are you, I've been in complete misery,
That's when I left to return to Louisiana, which has been miserable. 

Oh dear, if you had just wanted to listen to me,
You would not be wandering today, well, like you are,
You know, dear, you'll see your mistake,
All that over there, for all that you've done, oh my.
Angelas never continued his recording career and the song lost it's popularity until after World War II, when accordion player Belton Richard converted the tune into his more well-known 1967 "Cherokee Waltz".   Musician and native of Angelas' home town, J.C. Leger explains:

I love Angelas' playing so much. I find that all those accordion players born between 1890 and 1910 had a similar attack on the accordion, playing a discernible melody on a hard rhythm with space in the phrasing. It transcended race or region. I like to believe their playing to be the embodiment of the spirit of their culture at the time. They learned without the influence of recorded Cajun music.  It's pure and beautiful and alive.3  

  1. Cajun and Creole Music Makers By Barry Jean Ancelet
  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Discussions with J.C. Leger
  4. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
NO-6715 One Step A Cain | Brunswick 530
NO-6716 La Valse Du Texas | Brunswick 530


Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

"J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte" - Eddie Shuler

Behind his folksy, down-to-earth demeanor, producer Eddie Shuler was a shrewd businessman and the driving force behind Goldband Records.  Shuler was born in Wrightsboro, Texas, the oldest of three children. His parents separated when he was still a child, and the young Shuler worked odd jobs, picking cotton, corn and pecans and loading cottonseeds into boxcars. 
"I was one of those that had to grow up on my own," he says. "I started working when I was 9 years old. All I was trying to do was make a living. I didn't have that much of an education.".3  

Once Shuler became older, he soon found out that there were fringe benefits to being a musician.  He recalls one particular gig in Creole. 
Boy, there were some pretty little gals. I'm telling you, them were good looking little gals, and I hadn't never even seen a Cajun until I come over here. All them little Cajun gals was ganged around me like flies around flypaper. So the second time we went out there to play, they carried my guitar for me and all my songs and everything. I said, 'To hell with that damn drag line! I'm going to be a musician.'"3    

J’ai passe devant ta porte,
J’ai crie, “By-bye la belle.”
Y a personne qu’a pas repondu,
O ye yaille, mon coeur fait mal.

Moi, je mis (à) bien observer,
Moi, je vu le lumiere allumé,
Y quelque chose qui me disait j'aurais pleuré,
O ye yaille, mon coeur fait mal.

Quand j’ai ete cogner a la porte,
Quand ont (r)ouvert la porte de la maison,
Moi, j’ai vu des chandelles allumees
Tout autour de ton cercueil.

Eddie Shuler's Reveliers
KPLC in Lake Charles
Eddie Shuler, unknown, possibly Eldrige "Coon" Guidry, 
Amos Comeaux, Johnny Babb, Jimmy Webster, unknown

Courtesy of Chris Strachwitz

So, Eddie joined up with the Hackberry Ramblers in the 1940s, but it was short lived.  Shuler wanted to record his own songs and focus more on hillbilly music, like his main influence, Bob Wills. He left the Ramblers and started his own outfit: Eddie Shuler and the All Star Reveliers.3     Shuler recalls:
Then I decided I wanted to make records, so I found an ad in Billboard magazine, a place in New York.  So I saved my money, and with this outfit in New York, I made my first record on Goldband.  Why Goldband?  I was one of those true optimists, I believed, and I had to find me a name.  I sad "Goldband!"  I could visualize a gold band, a gold mine.  Then I had to come up with the logo.  I had an artist to draw the logo for me, which we sent to the guy in New York.1

Recorded in either late 1954 or early 1955, Shuler's orchestra consisted of twin fiddles, possibly by Charlie Broussard and Norris Savoie, and together they recorded the original Cleoma Breaux classic song entitled "J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte" (#700).  The vocals seem to point to Frankie Mailhes as lead singer but it remains unknown.   It was pressed on both his black and blue labels. 

I passed in front of your door
I cried, "Goodbye, my beautiful girl."
Yet no one responded.
Oh, how my heart aches!

I took a closer look,
I saw the lights lit,
And something told me I was going to cry,
Oh, how my heart aches!

When I knocked at the door,
When they they opened the door of the house,
I saw the (devotional) candles lit,
All around your coffin.

Strangely enough, his subtitled the song "The For Me, For Me Song" for reasons unknown on the blue label.  Yet, he misspells the title as "Je Vous Passe La Porte" on the black label, only referencing the band as "Shuler's All Star Reveliers".  Although this was probably recorded much earlier, the pressing of this song was a late one for the Reveliers.  Later, in an interview, he mistakenly believes this was pressed on Bob Tanner's TNT label but clearly done under the management of his contemporary down the street, George Khoury.  When asked about Khoury,
Oh yeah, none of the people that's here are competition to me.  We're friends.2   

  1. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven
  2. https://arhoolie.org/eddie-shuler-goldband-records/
  3. http://theind.com/article-168-the-record-man.html

Release Info:
J’ai Passé Devant Ta Porte | Khoury's 700-A
Louisiana Stomp | Khoury's 700-B

Eddie Shuler & His All Star Reveliers: Grande Mamou (BACM, 2016)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

"Creole Hop" - Joe Manuel

Creole Hop!  It was a rendition of the famous Cleoma Breaux tune "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas".   Joe, familiar with the tune from the years playing it as "Hackberry Hop" with Leo Soileau, sang the song in 1947 with Harry Choates as "Hackberry Hop" for Jimmy Mercer's Cajun Classics.  Two years later, he recorded it himself for the Joe Leibowitz's DeLuxe label, entitling it "Creole Hop" (#6039), naming if after the small town in Cameron Parish where many of the Manuels lived.

Hé le Hip et Taïau, ouais, qu’a volé mon traineau, chérie,

Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ç’a r’venu mon traineau,

C’est les filles de Créole, ouais, qu’a volé traineau, chérie,

Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ils ont r’venu mon traineau.

Hé le Hip et Taïau, ouais, qu’a volé mon gilet, p’tite fille,
Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ils ont r’venu mon gilet,
C’est les filles de Créole, ouais, qu’a volé gilet, ouais,
Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, p’tite fille, ils ont r’venu mon gilet.

Crowley Daily Signal
Oct 11, 1949

Every Friday afternoon, he ran a radio show on KSIG called T-Joe Manuel & Radio Stars featuring the best western string band tunes of the time.  His group consisted of probably Eddie Caldwell on guitar, Abe Manuel on fiddle, Dusty Rhodes on steel guitar, and Crawford Vincent on drums.  It was essentially the same setup and lineup that Abe had on his recording of "Hippy Ti Yo". 

Hey, the Hip and Taïau, yeh, that stole my sled, darling,

When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my sled, darling,

It's the girls of Creole, yeh, that stole my sled, darling,
When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my sled.

Hey, the Hip and Taïau, yeh, that stole my vest, little girl,
When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my vest,
It's the Creole girls, yeh, that stole my vest, yeh,
When they saw I was hot, little girl, they returned my vest.

Daily World
May 20, 1949

  1. Lyrics by Jordy A
Release Info:
D 946 Cherie Ba Sate | 6039-A DeLuxe
D 947 Creole Hop | 6039-B DeLuxe

Saturday, January 4, 2020

"Two Step De Avalon" - Elise Deshotel

Elise Dehotel's Louisiana Rhythmaires were very popular between Basile and Lake Charles. Deshotel, together with family members, had previously played with Nathan Abshire in south Louisiana venues including the Avalon Club, a place owned by the rough and tumble Quincy Davis. Doug Kershaw recalls playing at the club:
Me & my brothers, Pee Wee & Rusty would play the afternoon dance at Club Avalon in Basile then either Iry or Nathan Abshire would play the night dance. Quincy could be rough if he had to, but he looked after us kids.  When he re-opened the Broken Mirror in West Lake, he let us play there.

Elise jumped into the recording arena around the same time Nathan had brought back the accordion into Cajun music.  Deshotel's six song session, comprised of three vocals and three instruments, was the first in which Dewey Balfa took part on fiddle, as well as handling all the vocals.  The instrumentals from the session were assigned as the "A" sides and stomping accordion pieces dominated by Maurice Barzas. As researcher David Sax mentions:
"Two Step De Avalon" in particular, with it's wonderfully heavy handed drumming from Deshotel's wife Esther, seems to bring to mind a wild early morning encore near closing time at the Avalon Club.1  
"Avalon" seems to be a slightly different take on Lawrence Walker's "Creole Stomp". Elise had himself on guitar, Maurice Barzas on accordion, Dewey Balfa on fiddle, Rodney Balfa on guitar, and Esther on drums.  The band members fluctuated often and by this point, Atlas Fruge was added on steel guitar.  Sadly, his astounding steel guitar playing and Balfa's fiddle are barely heard here. 

KSIG in Crowley
Elise Deshotel, Cleveland "Cat" Deshotel,
Atlas Fruge, unknown girl, unknown guitar,
Eldridge "Coon" Guidry

  1. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2. Liner notes.
Release Info:
Two Step De Avalon | Khoury's KH-619-A
La Valse De Courage | Khoury's KH-619-B

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)

Monday, December 30, 2019

"Te Petite" - Harry Choates

In the late 1940s, Jimmy Mercer of Paris, TX had created a new label called "Cajun Classic" in the hopes of getting Harry Choates to record for him.  By 1947, he made good on his promise and coaxed Harry to head there with his band and record several tunes, one of which was a traditional Cajun tune called "Tip-E-Te Tip-E-Ta Ameon" (#1006) for his Cajun Classics label.  The song known as "T'es Petite et T'es Mignonne" was an old Cajun tune, first recorded by the Fawvors in 1929.  Mercer and Harry had the song sung as a duet by his band members-- banjoist Joe Manuel and his guitarist Esmond "Eddie" Pursley.  The band rounded out with Ronald Ray "Pee Wee" Lyons on steel guitar, B.D. Williams on bass and Curzy "Porkchop" Roy on drums. 

Daily World
Aug 12, 1948

T’es petite et t’es mignonne,

Et galeuse, cherie, j’t’amie quand même,

Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, se pas la belle, 

Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, 

Vous allez et laver. 

T’es petite et t’es mignonne,

T'es trop galeuse, cherie, pour faire ma femme
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, se pas la belle, 
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, 
Vous allez et laver.

T’es petite et t’es mignonne,
Et galeuse, cherie, j’t’amie quand même,
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, se pas la belle, 
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, 
Vous allez et laver. 

T’es petite et t’es mignonne,
Et galeuse, cherie, j’t’amie quand même,
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, se pas la belle, 
Ah, mais ouais, la belle, chérie, 
Vous allez et laver.

After Gold Star's producer Bill Quinn accidentally found out about this session, the two producers settled on an arrangement.  Harry Choates had been playing with his Melody Boys for quite some time and the following year, in 1948, he and the Manuels were touring around east Texas and south Louisiana. That year, they re-recorded the tune "Te Petite" (#1343) for Gold Star records.   It featured a young pianist by the name of Johnnie Ruth Smyrle, sometimes listed as "Johnnie Mae", from San Angelo, Texas. 

This would be the last recording with his original group involving the Manuels. According to researcher Andrew Brown, rumor abound that Harry had an affection for Joe's wife Johnnie.  They had been touring through Texas and at some point, a band member caught the couple in the midst of "private relations".  This caused an immediate breakup of the band including, allegedly, the dissolving of Joe and Johnnie's marriage.  Many would never play with Harry again. 

Johnnie and Harry

To make matters worse, back in Louisiana, Choates’s wife was three months pregnant with their daughter, Linda. Despite the difficulties of his own making, in April 1947, Choates and Johnnie Manuel booked a month long engagement at Dessau Hall in Austin, Texas. By May or June, he had a show on KWBU in Corpus Christi. When Linda was born in September, Choates was still with Johnnie but it didn't last long.  According to bassist Grady "Tarzan" Mann,
One time we were playing at Dessau Hall.  [Choates] always liked for me to be right up there beside him with that upright bass.  Johnnie told him, "Are you gonna play for the people, or are you gonna play for Tarzan?"  And he turned around and knocked her clean off that piano stool!.1,2  

You're small and you're cute,

And shabby, dearie, I like you anyways,

Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, she's not beautiful,

Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, 

You go and wash up.

You're small and you're cute,

You're too shabby, dearie, to be my wife,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, she's not beautiful,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, 
You go and wash up.

You're small and you're cute,
And shabby, dearie, I like you anyways,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, she's not beautiful,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, 
You go and wash up.

You're small and you're cute,
And shabby, dearie, I like you anyways,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, she's not beautiful,
Ah, well yeah, pretty girl, dearie, 
You go and wash up.

Harry Choates, Johnnie Ruth Smyrle Manual,
Joe Manuel

Other family members dispute the relationship rumors, stating Johnnie loved Harry like a brother and that they stayed friends until his death.   Choates didn’t worry too much about switching band members, as the Golden Triangle—the area of Texas just across the Sabine River from Louisiana where he spent most of his timewas jumping with musicians.   Eventually, he'd record with other groups and form other bands including one with tenor banjoist and Port Arthur resident Ivy Gaspard.   According to Gaspard,
This area was a hotbed of good musicians.  You had as many good musicians here as you had anywhere.4  

Often times when he found himself broke, Quinn would have him sit in for a session, regardless if he needed him or not.   Sadly, many of those impromptu session recordings never materialized. 

Te Petite (1947) - Gold Star

  1. http://www.amoeba.com/harry-choates/artist/64745/bio
  2. Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings by Andrew Brown.  Liner notes.
  3. Image by Museum of the Gulf Coast
  4. http://www.offbeat.com/articles/harry-choates/

Release Info:
Je Pasa Durvant Ta Port | Cajun Classics 1005
Tip-E-Te-Tip-E-Ta Ameon | Cajun Classics 1006

Harry Choates ‎– The Fiddle King Of Cajun Swing (Arhoolie, 1982, 1993)
Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings (Bear Family, 2002)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"La Valse A Austin Ardoin" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

A distinctive accordion player, an emotional singer and a legendary songwriter, Amede Ardoin is one of the most important progenitors of both Cajun and Creole music. His family were huge influences on his music.  His cousin Bois Sec Ardoin's first music lesson was playing triangle behind Amede--the whole time watching his cousin and learning his tunes, telling him, "It won't be long before I catch up with you."  It was this close knit family, and the loss of his loved ones, that stirred the emotions of this creative musician later in his life. Author and poet laureate Darrell Bourque explains: 
When Amédé was nine months old, his father was killed in an accident. The story goes that his father and mother owned a very successful farm at the time and had earned enough to buy land. Supposedly, they had a 120-acre plot of land, with his father often hauling meat to various places. Apparently, as he was hauling meat across a wooden bridge, his wagon fell into the bayou, and he was killed.1  

Donc, bye-bye, je m'en vas mes parents,

Moi, je m'en vas, c'est rapport à la catin,

Donc, jamais j'aurais crû fallait je m'en vas,

Moi, tout seul et la quitter derrière,

'Gardez-donc, aussi loin, crois vous-même, moi, je suis après aller,

Moi, je la quitte, jamais encore je vas la rejoindre.

Donc, bonsoir, bonsoir, mes parents,
Je suis orphelin, il y a, beaucoup des années,
Mais, il faut je prends mes misères comme ça vient,
Mes parents, il y en a pas un qui veut me voir,
Quand je suis malade, il faut je vas chez les étrangers,
Ça pris eux-autres pour me soigner dans ma souffrance.

O, yé yaie, toi, petite fille,
Je serais curieux te rejoindre, quand même, une autre fois,
Pour moi être capable te dire comment dur ça c'est être orphelin,
"Tite fille, marie-toi, quand toi tu seras capable.

Daily Advertiser
Aug 26, 1932

By the time Amédé was a teenager, he was beginning to play music. The loss of his father and the care his elderly mother required was too much to handle, according to his cousin "Bois Sec" Ardoin,
Amede's mother was poor and old, too.  He tried to help a little bit after he was big enough, but after somebody found an accordion for him, he'd go and play. He didn't help his mama no more.  He stayed with the white people.2  
After his mother passed away in the 1920s, Amede moved into the home of his brother Austin.  For the rest of his days he would sing of his life as an orphan.2  By 1930, he traveled with fiddler Dennis McGee, recorded a song about his troubles, and named it "La Valse A Austin Ardoin" (#576).  The recording contains an eerie sound that wasn't present to listeners until modern times.  According to producer to Christopher King and author Amanda Petrusich,
Listen very carefully to "La Valse A Austin Ardoin".  When the accordion break occurs between the vocals, you can hear him humming--like a Glenn Gould--type sound.  Amédé Ardoin is giddily humming along with himself, doubling the melody, goading it forward.4  
Austin Ardoin

So, bye-bye, I'm leaving my family,

I'm going to go, it's because of the pretty doll,

So, I never thought I'd have to leave,

I'm all alone and leaving her behind,

So look here, (going) so far away, believe it yourself, I'm going, 

I'm leaving her, never again to rejoin her.

So, good evening, good evening, my family,

I've been an orphan, over there, for many years,

Well, I must handle my miseries as they come,

(Of) my family, there is no one who wants to see me,

When I'm sick, I have to go to strangers,

It takes them to heal me in my suffering.

Oh, ye yaille, you little girl,
I would be curious to join you, in any way, one more time,
For me to be able to tell you how hard it is to be an orphan,
Little girl, get married, when you, yourself, are ready.

 Daily Advertiser
Jul 30, 1931

He and McGee quickly became known and respected not only by the Creole community, but by the white Cajun community. Amédé had three recording sessions, in 1929, 1930, and 1934.  His catalog is probably about 34 or 35 songs, which undoubtedly represents a very, very small volume of the overall repertoire that he had.1  

  1. https://kreolmagazine.com/culture/features/amede-ardoin-and-his-legacy-a-discussion-with-darrell-bourque/#.XH_u-8BKhhE
  2. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
  3. Mardi Gras, Gumbo, and Zydeco: Readings in Louisiana Culture edited by Marcia G. Gaudet, James C. McDonald
  4. https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/244-amede-ardoin-accordion-virtuoso

Release Info:
NO-6718-A La Valse A Austin Ardoin | Brunswick 576 Melotone M18050
NO-6717-A Amadie Two Step | Brunswick 576 Melotone M18050

I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

Friday, December 20, 2019

"Gabriel Waltz" - Happy, Doc And The Boys

From 1946 to 1959, J.D. Miller released all forms of French language records, from the beautiful fiddle and guitar records of Oran 'Doc' Guidry and Leroy 'Happy Fats' Leblanc to the raucous recordings of Robert Bertrand and the Lake Charles Playboys.  It was between 1946 and 1948, when Miller decided to work with Happy Fats and record some of the first Cajun-country music after WWII.  Miller recalls:
We founded the M&S Electric company and we were doing industrial work on the rice mills.  All of it was heavier-type work, industrial and commercial.  I rented a building to house our company, but it was such a large building it looked bare with what we had invested.  There was so much room, I took an idea to put a little music and record shop in it.3 
So we bought a few records and a guitar or two...strings.  We put in a few records and the jukebox owners started buying records from my store.  Many of the customers, because they were predominantly Cajun at the time, wanted Cajun records.  They had a couple of Harry Choates records on the market and few other things, but apart from that, try as hard as I could, I couldn't obtain any.  So I got the idea I'm gonna make some, and I didn't know where to turn to go to a studio. Then I found they had a studio in New Orleans, the only studio in Louisiana: Cosimo Matassa's.3
J.D. Miller

Miller went to Cosimo Matassa's fledgling J&M Recording studio in New Orleans between 1946 and 1947 and recorded singer Happy Fats with fiddler Doc Guidry and singer Louis Noel.  Happy told radio interviewer Dave Booth:
We did a French thing and a country thing.1 

Gabriel avais de mon parrain,

Madeleine, c’était ma marraine,

Gabriel, il était pas beau,
Madeleine, elle valait pas mieux.

Gabriel avait de beau chapeau,
Madeleine avait (z)un beaux souliers,
Gabriel avait de beau chapeau,
C’est dommage il avait pas de calotte.

Gabriel avait de beaux souliers,
Madeleine avait (z)un beau chapeau,
Madeleine avait (z)un beau chapeau,
C’est dommage il avait pas de calotte.

Gabriel avait de belle calotte,
Madeleine avait (z)un beau chaussette,
Madeleine avait (z)un belle chaussette,
C’est dommage il était déchiré.

Gabriel avait de beaux souliers,
Madeleine avait (z)un beau chapeau,
Madeleine avait (z)un beaux souliers,
C’est dommage c’était des "tennis shoes".

Louis Noel

It turns out they recorded six songs total, one of them being "Gabriel Waltz" (#1000).  It was an old French folk ballad, associated with children's nursery rhyme.  The 1947 melody has origins in Leo Soileau's 1937 "Valse D'Amour", with the smooth fiddle rides by Oran "Doc" Guidry.  In addition was Happy Fats on guitar, Jack Leblanc on guitar and Dalton Delcambre on steel guitar.  To round out the group, Happy picked up a budding guitarist from St. Landry parish known as Louis Noel.   Louis' daughter recalled: 
Louis decided to give up farming and try his luck as a musician.  He landed a spot at KSLO in Opelousas.  He did some "hand me down" songs like "La Cravat" and "Gabriel Waltz".4

Miller's early releases had the letter 'F' in the catalog number to signify a French recording, specifically Cajun French, while the letter 'E' signified and English recording, specifically a country song.   Therefore, Miller's early pressings contain multiple uses of numbers.

Crowley Daily Signal
Oct 13, 1949

Gabriel was my godfather,

Madeleine, she was my godmother,

Gabriel, he was not handsome,
Madeleine, she was no better.

Gabriel had a nice hat,
Madeleine had nice shoes,
Gabriel had a nice hat,
It's a shame, he had no overshoes.

Gabriel had beautiful shoes,
Madeleine had a nice hat,
Madeleine had a nice hat,
It's a shame, he had no overshoes.

Gabriel had a nice cap,
Madeleine had nice socks,
Madeleine had nice socks,
It's a shame, they were torn.

Gabriel had beautiful shoes,
Madeleine had a nice hat,
Madeleine had nice shoes,
It's a shame, it was tennis shoes.

In 1957, Bobby Bourke from Avery Island would record the tune during a field session for the Ethnic Folkways Library's I. Bonstein.   Later, Austin Pitre's "Valse d'Amour" would re-issue the melody and Nathan Abshire would rework the tune as "Gabriel Waltz" later.

  1. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge By Martin Hawkins
  2. Yé Yaille Chère! by Raymond Francois
  3. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven
  4. Discussions with Karl W
  5. Lyrics by Marc C
Release Info:
La Cravat | Fais Do Do F-1000-A
Gabriel Waltz | Fais Do Do F-1000-B

Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)