Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Valse A Alcee Poulard" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

Although Creole accordion player Amede Ardoin played with many fiddlers in his lifetime, including the incomparable Douglas Bellard, his most enduring creative partnership was with Dennis McGee, an orphaned white sharecropper from Eunice, Louisiana, who is credited on twenty of Ardoin’s thirty-four sides. Such interracial alliances weren’t unprecedented, but it’s likely the relationship was socially fraught. McGee probably recommended Ardoin to Columbia Records, which would make him ultimately responsible for Ardoin existing outside of his time and place.2 


Oh, ye yaille, je m'en vas.

Moi, je me'en vas, malheureuse, moi, je m'en vas, catin,
Je m'en vas, mon tout seul à la maison.

Comment je vas faire, toi, 'tite fille, ayou je vas aller, jolie?
Pour moi être capable t'rejoindre, ouais, encore,
Moi, je connais tes parent, ça veut pas, catin,
Ayou, moi je vas aller pour t'rejoindre?

Toi, jolie, fait pas ça, ye yaille,
Comment moi je vas faire? C'est si dur.


Amede Ardoin

The Columbia session was short lived and the label closed the doors to any more Cajun sessions due to The Depression.  The only name in the Cajun recording game at the time was Brunswick Records of Chicago.  In late November of 1930, the recording team made one last trip to Louisiana where they recorded Dennis and Amede; kicking off with the performance of "Valse A Alcee Poulard" (#495); a melody more familiar as "Quel Étoile".  Alcee Poulard is believed to be the husband of Amede's aunt, Oline Ardoin Poulard, who is mentioned in the title of another Ardoin song called "Taunte Aline".  McGee's backing of Ardoin's tune provided unique support that seems to be noticed to musicologist Jared Snyder.
Only "Valse a Alcee Poulard," in the cross key of A, needs the fiddle to state the chord progression while the other waltzes, played in D, barely need McGee's contribution to work.3   


Oh, ye yaille, I'm leaving.

I'm leaving, naughty woman, I'm leaving, little doll,
I'm leaving, I'm all alone at home.

How will I do this, you little girl, where am I going to go, pretty girl,
In order for me to meet you, yeah, again?
I know your parents, don't want me to, little doll,
Where am I going to meet you?

You, pretty girl, don't do that, ye yaille,
How will I do this?  It's so hard.


Although the recording didn't hit the market until over a year, the duo continued to play house dances across south Louisiana. According to record producer Christopher King,
You would primarily go to a bal de maison, or a house party, where essentially, the owner of the plantation would go out and collect the musicians in a horse and carriage and bring them to the house. And then the whole community would show up, and they would roll up the carpets and hang the chairs up on the wall.

And then Dennis McGee and Amede Ardoin would take what would be a stage, which is a little platform, and just play from, say, 7 o'clock in the evening until the next morning, essentially. Back then, they were essentially sharecroppers, but they were valued by the plantation owner not for their work-work but for their ability to entertain and to keep the morale up of all the other workers.1   






  1. https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=135638265
  2. https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/244-amede-ardoin-accordion-virtuoso
  3. "I'm Never Com in' Back" Amede Ardoin.  Liner notes.

Release Info:
NO-6735 Valse A Alcee Poulard | Brunswick 495
NO-6736 One Step D'Oberlin | Brunswick 495

Find:
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, July 31, 2020

"Darbone's Creole Stomp" - Hackberry Ramblers

The Hackberry Ramblers were one of the first Cajun string bands in the rnid-1930s to imitate the swing sounds from Texas (such as Bob Wills, Milton Brown and the Light Crust Doughboys), but they also played the latest jazz tunes of the time, such as "High Society", re-titled after a local town, called "Vinton's High Society", and "Careless Love". The Hackberry Ramblers were one of the first Cajun groups to use amplification in dance halls and they were the first band to record an arrangement of "Jolie Blonde" that is still heard today.1 

Radio waves emanating from Texas, Shreveport, and New Orleans ignored south Louisiana's cultural boundaries as they crisscrossed Cajun Country and spilled Western swing, hillbilly music, and jazz across the region.2  Influenced by music across the boarder, the original members got their big break when they were invited to play on the radio. Darbonne stated:
There were no radio stations in southwest Louisiana.  Not until the Lafayette's KVOL and Lake Charles KPLC came on air in 1935.2 

(top) Lennis Sonnier, Claude "Pete" Duhon,
(bottom) Luderin Darbonne, possibly Floyd Shreve
By 1937, several members changed out and landed in New Orleans recording for RCA's Bluebird Records at the St. Charles Hotel.   There, they recorded a rendition of the 1929 Harrington, Landry & Stewart instrumental "La Stomp Creole", re-titled as "Darbone's Creole Stomp"  (#2025).  Along with "Darbone's Breakdown", this is one of two songs which were odes to the band's founder, Luderin Darbone.  The recording featured Darbone on fiddle, Lennis Sonnier and Floyd Shreve on guitars, and Claude "Pete" Duhon on bass.  After the war, musicians such as Nathan Abshire re-titled the melody as the "Hathaway Two Step". 





  1. J'ai Ete Au Bal Vol. 1.  ARhoolie CD 331.  Liner notes.
  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Release Info:
BS 14004-1 Church Point Breakdown | Bluebird B-2025-A
BS 14003-1 Darbone's Creole Stomp | Bluebird B-2025-B

Find:
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

"Si Tu Voudroit Marriez Avec Moi (Marry Me)" - Joe's Acadians

Joe Werner, the Cajun harmonica player and entertainer rode the airwaves with his rendition of popular tunes and Cajun ballads.  One of Joe's earliest public performances was at a Houston radio station KTRH in 1930.  There he surprised listeners with his renditions of songs played on his harmonica.2  



Je te donnerais un bague en or
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, chère.

Allons  s'marier chere!

Je te donnerais un char neuf,
Et mon portrait de mon petit coeur,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, petite.

Je te donnerais la clef de mon coffre,
Et toute mon or et mon argent,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, chère.

Allons s'marier Jimmy

Je te donnerais un char neuf,
Et mon portrait de mon petit coeur,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, chère.

Je te donnerais la clef de mon coffre,
Et toute mon or et mon argent,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, chère.

Je te donnerais un bague en or
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi,
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi
Si tu voudrais t'marier avec moi, chère.


Rayne Tribune
Dec 5, 1936

Probably during the time he was courting his wife, he recorded "Si Tu Voudroit Marriez Avec Moi" (#2060) for Bluebird Records in New Orleans with Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez on guitar and possibly Wayne Perry on fiddle.  By 1936, he was engaged and married to Annie Thibodeaux of Crowley in a quiet ceremony with only immediate family.1   While living in Crowley, he attained much recognition as an outstanding musician and entertainer, being the first "live talent" to appear on KSIG.3  They remained in Crowley until the 1970s when they moved to Fort Worth, TX.




I would give you a gold ring,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, dear.

Let's get married, dear.

I'll give you a new car, 
And my portrait of my sweetheart,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, little girl.

I'll give you the key to my chest,
And all my gold and my money,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, dear.

Let's get married, Jimmy.

I'll give you a new car, 
And my portrait of my sweetheart,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, little girl.

I'll give you the key to my chest,
And all my gold and my money,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, dear.

I would give you a gold ring,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me,
If you'd marry me, dear.

In 2009, Linzay Young & Joel Savoy covered this obscure tune as "Si Tu Voudrais Marier".





  1. RT 4-10-1936
  2. "Local Boy Plays From Houston Radio Station" RT 12-05-1936
  3. The Rayne Acadian-Tribune (Rayne, Louisiana) 18 Jun 1978
  4. Lyrics by 'ericajun'

Release Info:

BS-027890-1 Si Tu Voudroit Marriez Avec Moi (Marry Me) | Bluebird B-2060-A
BS-027891-1 La Two Step A Chachin (Asa's Two Step) | Bluebird B-2060-B

Find: 
Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology 1928 - 1941 (The Historic Victor-Bluebird Sessions Vol. 2) (CMF, 1993)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

"Lu Lu Boogie" - Nathan Abshire

By the mid-1950s, the country found itself absorbed in rock n roll and Cajun accordion players adapted to the new sound in various ways.  In early 1955, Nathan Abshire and his Rhythm Five recorded a jumping, jiving instrumental in which he called the "Lu Lu Boogie" (#647).  His "Five" at the time consisted of Nathan on accordion, possibly Dewey Balfa on fiddle, possibly Jake Miere on lead guitar, possibly Ernest Thibodeaux on rhythm guitar, and possibly Shelton Manuel on drums.  Believed to be named after Leleux's Dance-hall near Estherwood, the club was owned by locally-known fiddle luthier Lionel Leleux's grandfather, Ernest Leleux.   His dance-hall was located in the community of the family's namesake.  

Leleux's Dance-hall, 1938
Russell Lee Collection, LOC

When young Lionel Leleux began playing music in 1927, he teamed up with the young Nathan Abshire.  They rotated between playing at Leleux's Dance-hall and the Martinez Dance Hall in Morse.  Neither had transportation, so one week, Lionel walked the 12 miles to Morse; the following week, Nathan hiked it to the community of Leleux.2   According to a 1941 Louisiana brochure by the Work Projects Administration, "Leleux is little more than a post office, general store, and combination saloon and dance-hall, where fais-dodos, or Cajun “breakdown” dances, are held each Wednesday evening."1   
  
Ernest Leleux, 1938
Russell Lee Collection, LOC

Ernest's dance-hall featured the likes of Dennis McGee and Sady Courville in the earliest days and was the chosen location for U.S. Farm Security Administration's photographer Russell Lee.   In 1938, he took some of the most iconic photos of post-Depression life in the Cajun prairies, including dancers dancing to the popular string band: the Alley Boys of Abbeville.    His photos taken in Leleux's Dance-hall are located today in the Library of Congress. 

Another possible origin for the name could have bee Lulu's Dancehall, located southwest of Gueydan, not far from where Nathan lived.  Lastly, it could have been a reference to local man named Lester "Lu Lu" Faulk that lived in the southwest area of Vermilion Parish; an area which contains the road named Lu Lu Rd. 






  1. Louisiana; a guide to the state, compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Louisiana ... sponsored by the Louisiana Library Commission at Baton Rouge.
  2. The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 26 Jul 2009


Release Info:
Casa Blanca Waltz | Khoury's KH-647-A
Lu Lu Boogie | Khoury's KH-647-B

Find:
French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

"Hey Cushmall" - Eddie Shuler

An immigrant from Texas, musician and record producer Eddie Shuler was operating a tiny music store when he started Goldband as a private label around 1945 to promote his western outfit, the All Star Reveliers.1  An excellent group that went toe-to-toe with Cliff Bruner, Leo Soileau, Harry Choates, the Hackberry Ramblers, and the other top Gulf Coast swing bands of the time.2  He recalls:
I had this eight-piece band and I had a packed house because I had a radio show down there on KPLC Radio.  That was a thirty-minute show in the afternoon.1




Eh, jolie, 

Moi j'm'en va, va à la maison,

C'est pour t'voir, mais, chère 'tite fille, 

Que si mignonne, mais, pour ton nèg.



Eh, couche mal, tu m'a dit, mais, tu m'aimais,

Oh, jolie, mais, aujourd'hui, t'après m'quitté. 


Eh, jolie, 
Moi j'm'en va, va à la maison,
Tout fais ça, mais, tu m'aimer, ça m'fait du mal, mais, aujourd'hui.


Sears in Lake Charles
Johnny Babb, Pee Wee Lyons, Johnny Reems,
Ronald Ardoin, possibly Johnny Porter,
unknown, Eddie Shuler

Many of Eddie's singles are solid western swing, Cajun, and country efforts comparable to anything else coming out in those genres at the time.2  Shuler cut his first records using the facilities of two Lake Charles radio stations, KPLC and KAOK, since the nearest dedicated recording studios were in distant New Orleans and Houston.  He said:

There wasn't no tape recorders back in those days.  You had to cut the thing on an acetate disc. So you'd go into the radio station and give the engineer ten dollars and a bottle of booze, and he'd make you an acetate.1  




Hey, pretty one,

I'm going, going home,

It's to see you, well, dear little girl,

That's so cute, well, for your man.



Hey, naughty one, you told me, well, you loved me,

Oh, pretty one, well, today, you're leaving me.


Hey, pretty one,
I'm going, going home,
All that's done, well, you loved me, that makes me sad, well, today.
Norris Savoie

During one of those sessions in 1948 or 1949, Eddie and Norris Savoy recorded the french tune "Hey Cushmall" (#1017) for his Goldband records.  The slang term "couche mal" was a Cajun nickname used to describe a "naughty person", which fell out of favor soon after the war.   It wasn't an overly impressive recording, sounding more like a country hillbilly band rather than a Cajun recording. Eddie was very much into English country tunes but Norris helped change that.

We was into the Bob Wills sound. Oh, we played French music ‘cause I had a French singer. I wasn’t crazy; I wanted that money too. I had a couple of [French singers], but the one who stayed the longest was Norris Savoie. He sang high, higher than a woman, and he played the fiddle.2  






  1. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven
  2. http://wired-for-sound.blogspot.com/2011_11_24_archive.html


Release Info:

Hey Cushmall | Goldband G-1017-A
Faded Love Waltz | Goldband G-1017-B

Find:

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

Saturday, July 11, 2020

"Le Soldat Fatigue" - John Bertrand & Roy Gonzales

John Bertrand may have been one of the more obscure artists during the early Cajun recording era, but his music seems to have had earlier origins than many of the Cajun folk songs of the time.  His mother, Nora Boone, recalled and recited many French folk songs her family had passed down from Europe.  Each one possessed a different theme and melody in which Bertrand translated into an accordion-led melody.



Bonsoir, mes bons vieux gens,

Plaidoirie tu pour d'aide,
Ma mère loger chez toi,
Pour, moi soigner son, j'ai étais,
Pour, moi soigner son, j'ai étais.

Mon coeur, mais, pour (elle) bon pas,
J'etait de satisfaire,
Voyez notre maison,
Mais, coeur, elle est si petite, (elle) etait,
Mais, coeur, elle est si petite, (elle) etait.

Allez dans ce village,
Vous trouver-z-un logis,
Allez dans ce village,
Vous trouver-z-un logis.

Comment vous refusez,
Un soldat fatigué?
Te dur viens-moi t'as meme,
Te dur viens-moi t'as meme.

...

19th century French soldier
Image by Alexandr Sidorov

Having teamed up with Acadia Parish guitarist and yodeler Roy Gonzales, John brought along his son Anthony and the trio headed to Chicago in the winter of 1929 where they recorded "Le Soldat Fatigue" (#12763).  Songs like this may have come from French nursery rhymes similar to "Pauvre Soldat" commonly sung in France.  In this piece, the song describes an old soldier looking for a place to sleep.  He is refused a the first place and told to go to another town. Many of these Old World songs have their origins during the Napoleon Era.  


Good evening, good gentlemen,

Pleading for your help,
My mother (needs) lodging with you,
For I'm looking after her, I am,
For I'm looking after her, I am.

My sweetie, well, she's not good,
I catered to her,
While watching over our house,
Well, sweetie, she's so small, she is,
Well, sweetie, she's so small, she is,

Go to this village,
You will find lodging,
Go to this village,
You will find lodging.

How can you refuse,
A tired soldier?
So hard even for me to come to you,
So hard even for me to come to you.

...








  1. https://oldtimeparty.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/early-american-cajun-music/
  2. Lyrics by Jordy A, SS, and Stephane F


Release Info:
21248-2 La Fille Du Jolier (The Jailor's Daughter) | Paramount 12763-A
21251-2 Le Soldat Fatigue (The Tired Soldier) | Paramount 12763-B

Find:
John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

"Ma Chere Tite Fille" - Moise Robin & Leo Soileau

Moise Robin learned to play Cajun accordion at a very young age.  His father, Joseph, picked up the accordion in the late 1800s and learned many of the melodies that other musicians played around Leonville. In fact, it's his dad that got him interested in accordion:


He had an accordion and I would go to school and when I would come back from school instead of make my lesson.  I was more interested in accordion.1 

He would play dances and he would make me play a few dances for the people.  My head would show up on top of the accordion, I was about nine-years old.1 





Chère petite fille, rappelle-toi qu'en j'm'en allé, 

J't'ai dis, "T'es canaille!", quand t'avait rencontré,
C'est plus tard, j'ai tombé en amour avec toi et z'aujourd'hui, 
C'est la seule que moi, j'aime.

Aujourd'hui, j'abandonne père et mère, 
Frères et sœurs pour te suivre à ta maison,
Mais, j'comprends tu vas me quitter pour t'en aller avec autre, 
Malheureuse, pourquoi-donc, t'es après faire ça?

Soignez jamais un petite fille de quatorze ans qui te quitter,
Pour s'en aller avec un homme de cinquante ans,
Moi, j'connais aujourd'hui de l'après me faire, z'avec moi, 
Malheureuse, tu vas pleurer z'avant longtemps.

Aujourd'hui, j'abandonne père et mère, 
Frères et sœurs pour te suivre à ta maison,
Mais, 'contré dedans la terre, mais, des miseres, 
Malheureuse, tu connais c'est pas mon temps.



Clarion News
July 18, 1929

Moise's father played as far as Ville Platte and learned of the fiddle-accordion duo, Leo Soileau and Mayuse Lafleur.  By the summer of 1929, Leo partnered with Moise and together they formed a musical pair and were discovered by the Paramount record company.  Paramount records had the duo arrive in Richmond, Indiana for a recording session where they recorded "Ma Chere Tite Fille" (#12808). Leonville-native and Opelousas merchant Winter Lemoine, a distributor for Paramount, helped the duo make the trip.  Lemoine operated a sewing machine business which sold records on the side.   Moise recalls:


When we was playing, a company from the Richmond, Indiana called us to go make a record. So we met in Richmond, Indiana and made two records there. 

Moise Robin
by Chris Strachwitz





Dear little girl, remember that I went away,

I told you, "You're mischievous!", when I met you,
It's too late, I fell in love with you and today,
It's the only one I love.

Today, I abandoned my father and mother,
Brothers and sisters to follow you to your house,
Well, I understand you're leaving me to go away with another,
Poor woman, why is it, you've done that?

Never chase a 14 year old who will leave you,
To go away with a man of 50 years,
I know today what you've done with me,
Poor woman, you will cry before too long.

Today, I abandoned my father and mother,
Brothers and sisters to follow you to your house,
Well, getting into a world of misery,
Poor woman, you know it's not my time.



  1. http://arhoolie.org/moise-robin/
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
G15343 Ma Chere Tite Fille | Paramount 12808-A
G15344 Easy Rider Blues | Paramount 12808-B

Find:

Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5: The Early Years 1928-1938 (Old Timey, 1973)
The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (Yazoo, 2006)