Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Shoe Pick Waltz" - Amar Devillier

George Khoury spent the 1950s recording a slew of music from around south Louisiana, with a strange numbering scheme that criss-crosses two of his first labels: Lyric and Khoury's.  The only record on his single digit Lyric series included the song "Shoe Pick Waltz" (#1).  Amar "Ti-Frère" DeVillier and his band, the Louisiana Jambileers, recorded it at the KEUN Radio station in Eunice, LA in 1952, however, Khoury seems to have release it between 1953 and 1954. Either during this same year or earlier, Khoury used his 100 series for R&B artists such as Clarence "Bon Ton" Garlow.  His Lyric label would eventually have a 600 series, 700 series, and a 1000 series.

Oh, tit fille, ton aller, tit monde,

Ton aller la bas à Choupique,

Oh, ye yaille, si j’peut voir m’a chere tit fille. 

Eh! Oh, tit fille!  Eh, hah!

Eh tit fille comment ces tu comme ça? 

Toi jolie, tit, tit fille,

À la train souffrir, assez noir.

Oh! Tit monde, hey, ma j’connais pas la pein,
Te dit ça, jolie tit fille.
Khoury's Record Store

The choupique (pronounced "shoe pick") is a trash fish, known outside Louisiana as the bowfin, which isn't eaten much but can be found plentiful around Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. Choupique is also the name of a rural community north of Eunice, Louisiana, not far from a small stream called "La Coulée Choupique", in which the song refers.  According to Cyprien Landreneau, this waltz is over a hundered years old.  It was probably composed by a musician living on Bayou Choupique. The song features Devillier's harmonica accompaniment which wasn't all that common at the time.  Wallas Lafleur, who would later play drums for Shirley and Alphee Bergeron, sings and plays guitar.
Amar Devillier

Oh, little girl, go away, my everything,

Go over there to the Choupique,

Oh, my, to see my dear little girl.

Aye! Oh, little girl!  Eh, hah!

Eh, little girl, how come you act like that, 

You pretty little, little, girl,

I'm suffering, it's quite sombre.

Oh, my little everything, I know that it's no use,
To tell you this, my pretty little girl.
Nathan Abshire would use the name in a different tune recorded for Khoury around the same time called the "Choupique Two Step". Although George's recording activities went into limbo with the advent of rock n roll, he was to make a strong comeback at the end of the decade, not with Cajun music, but with a new South Louisiana sound: swamp-pop.

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Cajun Home Music. FW02620_101 liner notes
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M
Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)

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