Friday, December 12, 2014

"Jennings Two-Step" - Ernest Thibodeaux

Although Amede Ardoin used the name "Tostape de Jennings" on an early tune, the same name would be used on a different tune recorded around 1949 by a Cajun french band led by Nathan Abshire's guitarist, "Calcasieu" Ernest Thibodeaux (spelled Tipidoe), for Khoury records.  Between 1949 and 1951, he and Nathan recorded the "Jennings Two Step" (#105).  

Owner George Khoury would have the record pressed by an independent label out of San Antonio called Hot Rod Records. (This label is not to be confused with Hot Rod records started by Rob Petersen). After Virgil Bozeman's failed attempt at the Opera label, and then his finances for his O.T. label dried up, he moved back to San Antonio where he started the Hot Rod label with local record man Bob Tanner.  

Hey ! Quoi faire pour toi mais malheureuse ?

Hey y aïe ! Tu me fais mais avec moi ?

Hey y aïe ! Pourquoi mais malheureuse ?

Moi je suis là Catin mais pour moi même

Hey y aïe ! Pourquoi toi mais tu fais ça ?

Tu connais ça me fait mais ça de la peine !

Hey y aïe ! Pourquoi donc mais toi tu fais ?
Que toi mais t'es plus tard après mais sera plus tard !
Hey Catin tu me fais des sentiments !
There are only 7 known records made by this label, including songs by artists Nathan Abshire and Carrol Sammons. According to collector Lyle Ferbrache:
Nathan Abshire and Ernest Thibodeaux
"there was no rock & roll in sight . . . yet. Post-war hot rodding had just begun, so this label art actually was a cutting-edge development, though mostly unseen."
Jennings is a small town in Louisiana located along the interstate between Lafayette and Houston and the location of the band's featured dancehall, The Pine Grove Club.  It's this club where Ernest invited Nathan Abshire in 1948 to join with Will Kegley and Will’s sister Oziet Kegley to make the band called the Pine Grove Boys. After playing with four members until 1949, they took on Atlas Fruge and Jim Baker. The song's sound is rough compared to the quality of other independent labels involved in recording Cajun music.  The instruments are hard to hear with the vocals clipping loudly. 

Ernest started playing guitar at 10 years old and played professionally at the age of 13 with Will Kegley and the Lake Charles Playboys. Nathan often gave up the vocal duties to other singers, such as Ernest, to concentrate on his playing.  Thibodeaux would often sang short stories in French, with delightful funny, good natured lyrics or lamenting about a female cheating.  During this session, Ernest had asked Nathan if he could "take couple of sides".6  Most likely, all the musicians were part of Abshire's Pine Grove Boys band.  

Hey little doll! What can I do with you?  So unfortunate.

Hey, yaille! What are you doing with me?

Hey, yaille! Why? So unfortunate.

I'm here by myself, little doll.

Hey, yaille! Why are you doing that?

You know, it's punishing me.

Hey, yaille! Why are you doing this?
You're going to come back too late, and afterwards, it'll be too late.
Hey little doll! You'll get lonesome.

Tanner would go on to create his own label known as T.N.T (Tanner N Texas) releasing material by Iry Lejune and Aldus Roger.  Ernest would go on to play every Saturday at Fred's Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana alongside musicians such as August Broussard, Don Thibodeaux, Iry Lejeune, and Wilson Granger. Ernest was the last member of the Pine Grove Boys, playing music until the age of 75.

  3. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  6. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2. Liner notes.

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