Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Riviere Rouge (Red River)" - Delma Lachney and Blind Uncle Gaspard

In Louisiana, north of the Cajun country region, existed people with a distinct french dialect and unique set of ballads living along the Red River. Among them was a guitarist named Blind Uncle Gaspard.  

Alcide Gaspard (1880-1937)was a blind vocalist and guitarist from Louisiana who alternated between string-band music (in a band with his brothers) and traditional Cajun balladry on his recordings for Vocalion. Born in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana in 1880, he became blind when he was seven. Gaspard formed his first band with his brothers Victor and Amade.  Gaspard played guitar and sang at social functions – passing the hat around at the end of his show. 
Uncle Blind Gaspard

On January 26, 1929, he traveled with fiddler Delma Lachney to record only a few tunes for Vocalion in Chicago, including an instrumental, upbeat song entitled "Riviere Rouge" (Vocalion #5281). It was through an arrangement with a Marksville furniture and record store owner that Lachney and Gaspard made the trip in an automobile to record for the Brunswick-Collender Company. The duo recorded ten sides there.  

Delma Lachney was a fiddler and vocalist from around Marksville, Louisiana, which is located in the central part of the state. He played in house parties and social gatherings with family members. He formed many bands and performed until 1946 or 1947. There is little biographical information other than birth and death dates (1896-1947) and the fact that Lachney traveled to Chicago in 1929 to record a handful of sides for Vocalion. His most well known tune is "La Danseuse". Later that year, they would record in New Orleans. 
Delma Lachney

This region of Louisiana isn't considered part of the heart of Cajun music however, the French language still existed due to early colonial French influences.  What makes this unique is that only a handful of musicians from the Red River region ever recorded French music during this early period and even today, their music is still quite unknown in south Louisiana.  Little else is known about Gaspard.

Featured here is their song about the river which runs through their home parish. You can easily hear the hillbilly influences which is typical of northern Louisiana. Their 78 records are some of the most valuable in all of early Cajun music due to their scarcity.  





Sources:

  1. http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/31-la-danseuse-by-delma-lachney-blind-uncle-gaspard/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Uncle_Gaspard
Find:
John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

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