Friday, September 26, 2014

"Evangeline Playboys Special" - Austin Pitre

Many Cajun musicians were ready to bring the accordion back into the genre after WWII.   Throughout the 30s and 40s, much of the music had a strong western-swing feel dominated by the fiddle.  Unlike the bluesy sound of Nathan Abshire or the elegance of Lawrence Walker, Austin Pitre (also spelled "Pete") brought a raucous, loud, hard-edged voice with a powerful playing style.  Rumor has it, he was the first Cajun musician to play the accordion standing up as well as behind his head and between his legs. In his career, Austin would be most known for his recording of "Les Flammes d'Enfer".  

Pitre's major influence was Amede Ardoin and he was already well known by the time he recorded.  In 1948, Austin kicked-off his recording career in J.D. Miller's recording studio in Crowley for his Fais-Do-Do / Feature label.   One of those songs was "Evangeline Playboy Special" (#1013) named after his band and the parish he was from.  They played at many dancehalls throughout south Louisiana including the Chinaball Club.

Hey, 'tit monde, malheureuse chérie,

Tu vas jamais mais oublier

Les misères tu m'avais fait.

Hey, 'tit monde, rappelle toi tout les paroles
Toi tu m'dis y a pas longtemps,
Tu connais tu vas pleurer.

Hey, chérie, tu m'as dit pas c'est l'moment(?)
Si j'te vois(?) dans les misères
Par rapport à ces manières.

Hey, chérie, pas la peine tu te lamentes,
Pas la peine tu vas pleurer,
T'en revenir il sera trop tard.
Austin Pitre
The song has an eerie sound which may have been due to the combination of the condition of the accordion as well as the incorrect speed of the recording equipment.  Unlike much of Cajun music, the accordion sound resembles a concertina or carosel-style sound which seems too high in pitch for a standard diatonic of the era.   However, it is known that Austin had played many accordions throughout his career and this one could have been unique. 

Hey, it's a small world, sad honey, 

But you'll never forget

The misery you have given me.

Hey, it's a small world, remember your words,
You said it won't be long, 
You know you're gonna cry. 

Hey, honey, you said this isn't the time 
To see you in misery
Compared to your normal ways

Hey, honey, do not bother complaining, 
It's not worth you crying
When you come back, it will be too late.
Later, he would record with Miller again with the group Louisiana Rhythmaires led by Chuck Guillory on Miller's French "Hits" label.  Austin would go on to record for Swallow during the 1960s and 1970s.  He appeared at the 1973 and 1976 Smithsonian Festival of American Folk Life in Washington DC.  

  1. Blue Suede News, Volumes 37-45
  2. Ethnic and Border Music: A Regional Exploration by Norm Cohen
  3. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 4: From The 30s To The 50s (Old Timey, 1972)

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