Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Manual Bar Waltz" - Milton Molitor & Austin Pitre

One of the later independent Cajun music recording engineers was Floyd Soileau.  His early attempts at recording Cajun music started with two brief labels: VEE PEE and Big Mamou Records.  Soileau's first label, Big Mamou, was formed in partnership with Ed Manuel, a Mamou, Louisiana, jukebox operator, nightclub owner, and regular customer of Floyd's Record Shop, who had the financial backing to assist the young entrepreneur. Manuel had also taped Cajun musicians Milton Molitor and Austin Pitre at a party where they performed "Manuel Bar Waltz" (#101) in 1957.  By releasing the recording, it would become Floyd's entry into the music business.

Hey chère regarde donc quoi toi t'as fait,

Mais aujourd'hui avec moi ma criminelle.

Hey bébé tu pourrais plus.
Hey t'aurais eu le coeur aussi criminelle.
Hey semaine en semaine, jour en jour ici,
J'ai jongler à toi criminelle que t'as tout le temps été.

Hey bébé tous les soirs quand je me couche,
Hey tout le temps de la nuit, je me capote de bord dans mon lit.
Hey je peux pas dormir moi pour moi.
Hey c'est juste rapport a tout ce que toi tu m'as fait.
Manuel's Bar

The word "capote" is an old French marine term for saying "turned upside down" "overthrowing" and finally, "aground".  In Cajun French, the verb "jongler" is a mysterious, old French word and seems to translate as "to think" or "reminiscence".  Although these songs were recorded merely to advertise a couple of Manuel's nightclubs, Soileau shipped the masters to Don Pierce's Starday Records in Nashville. During his days at KVPI, Soileau had often run across promotional fliers from Starday, which read "If you've got a tape, we can press a record for you." The Big Mamou releases sold encouragingly and began to revive interest in Cajun music around Ville Platte.  He said

Ed said, "We're gonna call this 'Manual Bar Waltz' and 'Midway Two Step'" because those were two nightclubs he had an interest in and he wanted some publicity. We put our first record out and started selling it.

Austin Pitre, Lurlin Lejeune and Milton Molitor
Milton had his start early on with Chuck Guillory and his Rhythm Boys as the accordion player. Eventually, Molitor and Pitre recorded for Dr. Harry Oster and Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s.

Hey dear, just look what you've done to yourself,

However, now, you've done it with me, it's cruel.

Hey baby, you could do more.
Hey, you should have a heart, also cruel.
Hey, from week to week, day by day,
I remember you always have been cruel.

Hey baby, every night when I go to bed,
Hey, all hours of the night, I'm tossing and turning in my bed,
Hey, I, myself, can not sleep,
Hey, it's just everything that you've done to me.

After the records were released, Ed was no longer interested in the recording business.  He had obtained the publicity he needed for his clubs.  Floyd was on his own:

So I changed the label to VEE-PEE Records. I had seven hundred 45s and three hundred 78s done, and it started selling very well.  

Later that year, Floyd would record Lawrence Walker and Aldus Roger.  Soon afterwards, in 1958, he would continue his business with 45 vinyl releases on his Swallow label, using the English pronunciation of his last name.  Soileau recalled the name change:

"I knew damn well I couldn't put S-O-I-L-E-A-U on there," he says. "They wouldn't be able to pronounce it in most places out of here." "When my dad saw that, he said [with a thick Cajun accent] 'What's the matter! You 'shame of your name?' I said 'It's not gonna fit. . . . Besides, that's the bird, . . . it's not necessarily my name." And he had a hard time—I don't know if he ever bought that entirely"

  2. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
Floyd's Early Cajun Singles (Ace, 1999)

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