Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"You Played Around" - Link Davis

When discussing the music of south Louisiana, you will hear about several musicians which had their influences come from Cajun music. Lewis Lincoln Davis, better known as Link Davis, was one of those musicians.  His music was more of a country sound concentrating on lyrics about Louisiana life.  While not exactly Cajun music as most know it, he helped expose the lifestyle of Cajun outside of Louisiana with his western swing style sound.

Billed as "Cajun Rock" or "Cajun Blues", his initial start was playing fiddle in Fort Worth in the 1930s. He moved to south-east Texas and worked with many groups.  After serving in the Army, in 1944, he joined Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers in Houston playing the tenor sax. By 1945, he moved to Port Arthur and married a Cajun girl and formed The Bluebonnet Playboys.

You played around with every gal in town,

You made me love you and then you let me down,

Now I sit and pine, you're always on my mind,

You broke my heart when you played around.

I put all my trust in you, 
I loved you from the start,
I believe you loved me,
Then you up and broke my heart.

I hope you're satisfied since our love has died
Why did you have to go and play around?
My darling how I cried when I found you lied,
You broke my heart when you played around.

I shed a million tears, the nights all seemed like years,
You loved me dear for such a little while,
Our love can never be, wish you were here with me,
You broke my heart when you played around.

I thought maybe you'd be true,
And someday there would be,
A cottage small just built for two,
And someday maybe three.

Now all my hopes are gone, it's hard to carry on,
I guess you'll always be the one I love,
I know there'll never be, another love for me,
You broke my heart when you played around.

Link Davis
Bayou Records was started in the spring of 1953 by record producer Franklin Kort who was originally with the Recorded In Hollywood label. There is some confusion about the record's history.  Possibly recorded at the KRIC Radio Station in Beaumont, TX or the Rice Hotel in Houston, it seems Lew Chudd's Imperial label recorded Davis' "You Played Around" (#3001) around 1947 but released it on Bayou Records much later on after the label was absorbed by the company in the summer of 1953.  The song contains possibly Clyde Brewer on fiddle, Lee Bell on guitar, possibly Deacon Anderson on steel guitar, Mancel Tierney on piano, Shang Kennedy on bass and Merle Powell on drums.  Through his wife’s musical heritage and by working in honky tonks and beer joints around the Piney Woods of south-east Texas and western Louisiana, Link became exposed to, and developed a unique understanding of Cajun music.  Steve Poncio, the right man at Macy Lela Henry’s Macy’s label, commented to researcher Ray Topping:

 “Sure, I remember Link Davis very well. He was always hanging round looking for work. We used him on some of our sessions.” 

By 1949, he moved to Oklahoma City when Harry Choates offered him a job.  Link’s ex-wife, Doris Meadows, remembers:

“ Harry Choates sent him a telegram asking him to come back and play with him. He sent the telegram collect, and we were so poor I couldn’t afford to pay for it “.
Step Inn Club, 1985
Image courtesy of Johnnie Allan & the
Center for Louisiana Studies,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

They continued to tour in a wide area – Port Arthur one night, Corpus Christi the next, and Pee Wee Calhoun remembered playing with Harry and Link as far away as Kilgore and Odessa, Texas. But most of their shows during this period  occurred around Opelousas and Lawtell, where they had regular gigs at the Green Lantern, and the Step Inn Club. 

“ Link and Harry would have some lively “ Battles of the fiddle “ with our singer/clarinetist Hub Sutter walking back and forth between them on stage at the Dessau Hall, building up to some pretty wild and frantic finales.”

Eventually, he started working for Huey Meaux during the 1960s and made many sessions in Houston and Pasadena, one of them with Louisiana accordion player, Marc Savoy.   Over his career, Davis recorded for many different labels including "D", Al's, Venus, Kool, Paradise, All Boy, Crazy Cajun, Princess, Stoneway, Western, Odle, Goldstar, Starday, OKeh, Columbia, Nucraft, Sarg, and Allstar labels.   His contemporaries were Harry Choates, Leo Soileau, Moon Mullican, J.B. Brinkley, Leon Selph and Bob Wills. 

Bayou folded in 1953 and in the 1970s, Floyd Soileau would create a separate label called Bayou to begin recording zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier.  The label eventually fell away, which soon led to the creation of Maison de Soul Records, which is the first record label dedicated to the soulful, upbeat style of music termed "Zydeco."

  1. http://www.flattownmusic.com/OurHistory.aspx
  2. http://www.bopping.org/link-davis-the-man-with-the-buzzin-sax/
  3. http://home.earthlink.net/~jaymar41/labels_2.html
  4. http://darinrmcclure.soup.io/post/64638477/THE-BAYOU-RECORDS-STORY
Let the Good Times Roll, 1948-1963 (Krazy Kat, 1993)
Cajun Blues: Papa Link Davis (Collectables, 1996)
Gumbo Ya Ya: Best of 1948-58 (Rev-Ola, 2008)
The Very Best Of Link Davis (Emusic/Goldenlane, 2009)
Jerry Irby & Link Davis: Texas swing (BACM, 2010)

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