Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Ville Platte Waltz" - Jelly Elliot

Much of the north Louisiana string bands had little connection to Cajun music.  Yet, nothing stopped them from being influenced by the sounds they heard coming from the bayou country.   As each band began making a name for themselves, some ventured out and incorporated Cajun music in different ways.

During the early 1940s, a man named Rex "Jelly" Elliott created the Singing Cowboys, performing string band music north of the Cajun country region.  They performed regularly at the KALB studio in Alexandria, Louisiana and his group made a series of broadcasts on the radio station; eventually traveling to New Orleans to record "Ville Platte Waltz" (#100-1) around 1947 for the Magnolia label.  It was based on the same theme as "Jole Blon" with the setting of a small town south of Alexandria that straddled the northern border of Cajun country, called Ville Platte. 


Cajun prairies in yellow, bottom left
Alexandria and lands north of the city are culturally different than the areas settled by Cajuns...a lot of it having to do with geology.   Much of the south-western land in which the Cajuns migrated to, bringing their culture, language and music, is part of the larger "Coastal Prairie" which spans across south-west Louisiana and south-east Texas.  Cajuns, tired of making a living in the bayou, moved west, farming much of the prairie lands between Lafayette, Ville Platte and Lake Charles.  Therefore, much of the Cajun music stayed south of the more hilly and piney-forested areas north of the prairies; prairies which fed farmland lying in the Mermentau river and Calcaseiu river watersheds.   As one travels north, the culture, language and music begins to change; music similar to Appalacia and southern Arkansas regions.  Many hillbilly string bands found their influence in this northern region.  

Tu m'as quitté, cherie, pour t'en aller, 

Pour t'en aller, au se loin,

Avec un autre, avec que moi(?),

Mais, comment dans, mais, moi je peut faire (mon tout) seul?



Oh, mais, jolie fille, 

M’a tit fille à ça j’voir pas, 
Te m'as quitté, pour t'en aller, 
Quelle espoir, mais, quelle avenir, mais, mon j’peu voir.

Eh, mais, jolie fille, 
Chere tit fille ta jongle pas ça(?),
Te m'as quitté, pour t'en aller, 
Pour t'en aller aussi loin a grand Ville Platte.

Mais, moi j'connais, oui, j'merite pas ça, 
A ça t’a fait y’a pas longtemps, 
T'as ecouté tout les conseils, 
D'un et l'autre, tu va a'oir du regrets, y a pas long temps.

Eh, mais moi m’vont vas, mais mon aller, oui mon tout seule, 
A Grand Ville Platte, mais, quoi mon dons, 
Mais, moi j’oui mon tout seul mais jolie fille.

Y a pas longtemps, tu m'as quitté, 
Pour t'en aller, avec un autre, 
Mais, quelle espoir et quelle avenir, 
Moi vas voir, mon tout seule, le jolie fille.


Slim Watts, Al Hopson, unknown,
Jelly Elliot, Charlie Riesinger, 

Milton Cloverdale "Pee Wee" Calhoun
Elliot's group toured throughout Arkansas and northern Louisiana. "Manuel" listed here is Abraham "Abe" Manuel, vocalist and occasional fiddle player for Harry Choates.   He and Pee Wee Calhoun had recorded with Harry between 1948 and 1949.  Even his reuse of Harry's lyrics is quite evident.   The melody seems to have some influence from either Dudley and James Fawvor's 1928 recording of "La Valse De Creole" or Angelus Lejeune's 1929 recording of "La Valse de Pointe Noire".  However, the lyrics are clearly verses cut from tunes like "Jole Blon".  Abe was well known for playing in the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry with Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell.   In fact, Lefty had worked with Elliot as well around 1945.  By 1949, Nathan Abshire would record the tune, naming it "Kaplan Waltz".
You left me, cherie, to go away,
To go away, far away,
With another one, without me(?),
Oh my, how am I to do this all alone?

Oh, my, pretty girl,
Little girl I never see,
You left me to go away,
What hope for the future is there? I can't tell.

Hey, but, pretty girl,
Dear little girl, don't you remember?
You left me to go away,
You went far away to big Ville Platte.

However, I know, yeh, I don't deserve this,
That you did this, it wasn't long ago,
You listened to all the advice given,
One after another, you will regret this, it won't be long.

Oh my, I'll leave, oh, i'll go, yeh, all alone,
To big Ville Platte, oh, what i'd give,
Oh my, I'm so alone, oh my, pretty girl.

Not long ago, you left me,
To go away with another,
Oh my, what hope, what future,
Do I have? I'm all alone, pretty girl.


Godchaux Building, New Orleans
Located at the National Radio Recording Studio in the Godchaux Building on Canal Street, the label seemed to be short lived.  Between July and September of 1947, Magnolia produced jazz records by artists such as "Pinky Vidacovich" and advertised for independent artists to come and "have your song recorded on unbreakable record", backed up by a studio vocalist and piano accompaniment.



  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  2. Classic Country: Legends of Country Music By Charles K. Wolfe
  3. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Articles_Essays/north_la_string_band.html
  4. Billboard Magazine, Aug 2, 1947
  5. Popular Mechanics, Sep 1947
  6. Popular Mechanics, Jul 1947
  7. Image by Pine Grove Press and Malcolm V
  8. Lyrics by Jerry M and Bryan L

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Louisiana Music, Vol 1" by Lyle Ferb

If you like this material and want more, be sure to check out "Louisiana Music, Vol 1." by Lyle Ferbache and Andrew Brown

Find:
Ebay
Cajun Music Hall Of Fame

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Two Step De Kindergarden" - Elise Deshotel

As Nathan Abshire's post-war recordings with George Khoury become more popular, friends of Nathan began recording, trying to gain popularity.  It wasn't uncommon to have the same musicians of one band play in other bands.   Given the variety of places to play, musicians such as Dewey Balfa, and Elise Deshotel formed other groups in order to capitalize on the dance hall music business.

In the ’50s, Dewey’s notoriety was reaching new heights. In 1951, he waxed his first recording with the Louisiana Rhythmaires led by Elise Deshotel and Maurice Barzas for George Khoury’s Lake Charles-based label. Exactly when this recording was done is unknown but at some point Elise and some of his group recorded the "Two Step De Kindergarden" (#620).  It's a quick-paced, accordion-led instrumental.  
Atlas Fruge, Will Kegley, Nathan Abshire,
Cleveland "Cat" Deshotel, Elise Deshotel

Nathan's group would play with Elise from time to time as well as Elise playing with Nathan's group.   When Nathan Abshire's regular guitar player, Ernest Thibodeaux, wasn't available, his substitutes on guitar were Harry Lafleur, Preston Manuel, or Elise Deshotel.







  1. Louisiana Music by Lyle Ferb
  2. http://www.offbeat.com/articles/masters-of-louisiana-music-dewey-balfa/
Find:
Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Cinque Pieds Deux (Five Feet Two)" - Patrick "Dak" Pellerin

Before there were the "Cajun crooners" such as Buddy Duhon, Jimmy Newman and Belton Richard, there was Patrick Pellerin. In March 1929, Okeh records gathered a representative group of Acadian French "Cajun" musicians from the Lafayette, Louisiana area in Atlanta Georgia for one of the first recording sessions featuring their music. What resulted were eight sides that included both Cajun standards and their interpretations of some popular American songs of the day. 
Cinq pieds deux, yeux de bleus, 

Oh, ça ces cinq pieds peut faire. 

Qui ça donc vous qui voir ma belle?



Nez troussé, bas roulés, 

(O'lay), oui monsieur, l'un (de ceux),

Qui ça donc vous qui voir ma belle?

Là si tu vois une fille, cinq pied deux, 
couvert fourrure, 
bagues diamants, ça fait là pari ta vie, c'est pas (lui).

Mais, quand (même lui) l'aime, (même lui) l'aime, 
L'aimait comme jamais voir. 
Qui ça donc vous qui voir ma belle?
-----------
Five feet two, eyes of blue, 
But, oh what those five feet can do,
Has anybody seen my girl?

Turned-up nose, turned-down hose,
Flapper, yes sir, one of those, 
Has anybody seen my girl?

Now if you run into, five foot two,
Covered with fur,
Diamond rings, all those things,
Bet your life it isn't her.

But could she love? Could she woo? 
Cootchie-cootchie-cootchie coo!
Has anybody seen my girl?
"Cinque Pieds Deux (Five Feet Two)" (#45332) is performed in both French and English by Patrick Louis "Dak" Pellerin, accompanying himself on the banjo.   It's a rendition of a Percy Weinrich and Jack Mahoney song called "Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue)" written in 1914.  A rendition had gained popularity in 1925 and was still fairly popular by the late 20s.  While his French is difficult to decipher, it does seem he changed the lyrics slightly between the two different verses.
Five foot two, eyes of blue,
Oh, what five feet can do.
Who has seen my beauty?

Nose tucked up, (hose) rolled down,
(O'lay!) Yes mister, one (of those),
Who has seen my beauty?

If there you see a girl, five foot two,
covered in fur,
diamond rings, bet your life,
It's not (her).

But, would she still love? she still love me?
Love as you've ever seen,
Who has seen my beauty?

His performances are probably the only example of real Cajun vaudeville type stuff ever heard. 






  1. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music: Categories, Stereotypes ... By Sara Le Menestrel
  2. Discussions with Malcolm V
  3. Image by Malcolm V
  4. Lyrics by Marc C

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Big Texas" - Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez

The story of "Big Texas" and "Jambalaya" has been covered before, however, it's history makes a good story.  The first recording of this melody as a Cajun tune was by the Guidry Brothers called "Le Garcon Negligent" in 1929.  Between 1934 and 1940, the melody influenced songs such as the Breaux Brother's "La Valse De Bayou Plaquemine", Cleoma Breaux's "Pin Solitaire", J.B. Fusilier's "Lake Arthur Waltz" and "Pine Island", Happy Fats' "Gran Prairie" with Harry Choates on fiddle, Jolly Boys' song "Abbeville", and a song called "Allons Kooche Kooche" by the Louisiana Rounders.  As Jules Angelle "Papa Cairo" Lamperez re-entered the music scene after the war, he couldn't forget the melody he used on the Louisiana Rounders song. Cairo was determined to remake it into a popular tune outside of Louisiana and Texas.

Since Cairo's instrument was less in demand in Cajun music than the fiddle or accordion, he also branched into steel-happy institutions such as Western swing and country, appearing for a time as a sideman to Texas honky tonker Ernest Tubb. Cairo practically lived on the stages of dancehalls and saloons in the '40s and '50s, when artists such as Guillory and Leroy "Happy Fats" LeBlanc were riding high.  He also fronted his own units such as a Port Arthur-based Western swing unit that, for a time anyway, featured a vocalist named George Jones, who would go on to become one of country music's biggest stars.  Not long before 1947, Murphy "Chuck" Guillory had decided to add Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez to his lineup of musicians.  By 1948, he had Chuck's band perform the melody and gave it the title "Big Texas" (#612), (sometimes listed to as "Gran' Texas".)

Herman Durbin, Jimmy Newman,
Chuck Guillory, Kersey "Pork Chop" Roy,
R.R. Sagg (emcee), Papa Cairo
Modern records had spotted Chuck's band playing Eunice and had them record it locally, probably in New Orleans.  The producer had it pressed in California on the Bihari brother's label: Modern Records Hollywood.  The group consisted of Jimmy Newman on some vocals, Papa Cairo on other vocals and steel guitar, Claude "Pete" Duhon or Howard Thibodeaux on bass guitar, Curzey Roy on drums, Chuck Guillory on fiddle and Herman Durbin on piano. Since Lamperez was the vocalist, Chuck and the Biharis had him listed in the credits as the song's author.



Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller (z)à Grand Texas,

Pour t'en aller toi tout seul (z)à Grand Texas,

Criminelle comment je va faire mais moi tout seul ?

Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller, pour t'en aller.

Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller,

Pour t'en aller, toi tout seul, (z)à Grand Texas.

Criminelle comment je va faire mais moi tout seul ?

Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller, pour t'en aller.



Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller,

Pour t'en aller, toi tout seul, (z)à Grand Texas.

Criminelle comment je va faire mais moi tout seul ?

Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller (z)à Grand Texas.

Noone knows for sure which pre-war recording influenced Papa's melody for the song, but he did write his own version of the lyrics. He took the melody of the Breaux's slow waltz and picked up the pace into a swingy two-step shuffle.  "Big Texas" was a catchy song about a rejected lover starting a new life in the distant land of adventure and the great unknown...big Texas. Given the song was sung in French, he knew the song's success would be limited.  


In 1949, he decided to record the song in English with his own group and entitled it "Big Texas #2" (#104), following it up with his original, pre-war French version simply called "Kooche Kooche" (#105).  By this time, both were released on Modern's subsidiary label called Colonial.  Papa Cairo and his Boys consisted of Don Lane on xylophone, Murphy Smith on fiddle, Herman Durbin on piano, Albert Roy on guitar, possibly Pete Duhon on bass and Curly Mertz on percussion.  Later, he would add fiddle player, Rufus Thibodeaux, who would later go on to perform in Nashville.  
Opelousas Daily World
May 20, 1949


You left and went away to Grand Texas,

You went all by yourself to Grand Texas,

It's sad, how will handle being by myself?

You left me and went away, went away.

You left me and went away,

You went all by yourself to Grand Texas,

It's sad, how will handle being by myself?

You left me and went away, went away.



You left me and went away,

You left and went away to Grand Texas,

It's sad, how will handle being by myself?

You left and went away to Grand Texas.

By 1950, Modern had sold it's Hollywood pressery to Mercury Records, ending their Cajun music pressings. After a couple of years, and still unsure of the song's success, he went back; this time into J.D. Miller's studio in Crowley in 1951 and re-recorded the song twice, once in English and once in French (#1049) for Feature Records.   

By 1952, country star Hank Williams was already able to boast six top hits in the country charts and seven million seller, before it came to the recording of "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)". Hank Williams, however, did not use the more mundane text of the original, but he is said to have written the interspersed with dishes of Cajun French words and text together with the non-copyrighted version (#1106) registered with Aubrey Wilson “Moon” Mullican

Hank Williams
Moon Mullican had already been familiar with the tune, travelling with his band, The Showboys, around east Texas and Louisiana.  He had already recorded "New Jole Blon" however, as the story goes, he fought with his record label, King Records.   That's when King chose to give Hank the song to record as his own, possibly paying Mullican on the side.  Although Moon's not listed on the credits, he claims he got 50% of the royalties.  However, according to author Colin Escott, in the book "Snapshots from the Lost Highway", Big Bill Lister said Moon Mullican and Hank Williams composed "Jambalaya" together while traveling in Hank's limo on the way to a show in Louisiana and that Don Helms (Hank's steel player) wrote the words down.  Lister said:

"We stopped and Don Helms got a sheet of cardboard and Hank and Moon banged that thing back and forth, and Don wrote it down."3

Moon Mullican
Other rumors abound.  One particular rumor states Moon wrote it for Hank and gave it to him.  Another claims Moon had nothing to do with the song, in which members of Dudley Leblanc's Hadacol Caravan claimed to be the genuine architects of the anthem.  According to author Ryan Brasseaux, Williams supposedly devised lyrics to his Cajun anthem while en route between Caravan shows in a train dining car with Dudley's son Roland, George Dupuis, and Lafayette entrepreneur George Berry. Roland provided the Cajun lyrics and Cajun surnames as the men drank whiskey.2  Finally, it has been written Happy Fats, who had recorded "Gran Prairie" and played on the same billing as Hank at the Hayride, helped Hank compose the song.11  They were both known to have worked together, even getting Happy's good friend, Joe Pusateri, to help write Hank's biography.12

As the single "Jambalaya / Window Shopping" (#11283 ) was published by MGM on July 19, 1952, they had already reached first place on September 6, 1952 on the Billboard Country Songs, on which it remained for 14 weeks. 
Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez
Courtesy of
Center for Louisiana Studies,
Archives of Cajun Creole Folklore,
Margie Lamperez Breaux Collection

Papa Cairo immediately claimed that Williams had stolen the song, because the label identifies him as the sole composer.  Afterwards, feeling jaded, he vowed to never record again.  Marty Robbins, who played in Papa Cairo's group, knew all their material.  By 1954, realizing Papa walked away from recording all together, Cairo alleged that Robbins pilfered a number he had written for the Rhythm Boys. Cairo claims that Robbins made up his own version of "You Just Wait and See" into his hit song "Pretty Words".  

As far as Chuck Guillory is concerned, he would record the tune a variety of times.  Between 1956 and 1959, he recorded it for Dr. Harry Oster in either Mamou or Eunice.  He did it again, in 1982, with his old drummer Curzy "Pork Chop" Roy, David Doucet on guitar, Preston Manuel on guitar, and Mike Doucet on mandolin.  Again, in 1987 with Tina Pilione on bass, Curzy "Pork Chop" Roy on drums, Dave Baudoin on guitar, Marc Savoy on fiddle, Preston Manuel on guitar, and Papa Cairo on steel.   Once more, around 1989, he got a group together, with Preston Manuel on guitar, and performed the song for the Les Blank film "J'ai Été au Bal (I Went to the Dance)".


Breaux Brothers - La Valse de Bayou Plaquemine - 1934


Cleoma Breaux Falcon - Pin Solitaire - 1936

Jolly Boys of Lafayette - Abbeville - 1937

Louisiana Rounder - Alons Kooche Kooche - 1937

Chuck Guillory - Big Texas - Modern - 1948


Papa Cairo - Big Texas #2 - Colonial - 1949


Papa Cairo - Kooche Kooche - Colonial - 1949


Papa Cairo - Big Texas (English) - Feature - 1951


Papa Cairo - Big Texas (French) - Feature - 1951


  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Hank Williams: Snapshots From The Lost Highway by Colin Escott, Kira Florita, Rick Bragg
  4. The Encyclopedia of Country Music
  5. http://memim.com/jambalaya-on-the-bayou.html
  6. http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/2011/05/hank-williams-or-moon-mullican-blogging.html
  7. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/papa-cairo-mn0000009575/biography
  8. Billboard Magazine, May 20, 1950
  9. Chuck Guillory ‎– Grand Texas.  Liner notes.
  10. Swingbillies - Hillbilly & Western Swing On Modern/Colonial/Flair 1947-52. Liner notes.
  11. Rayne's People and Places by Tony Olinger
  12. Discussions with Joe P's son

Find:
Chuck Guillory: Grand Texas (Arhoolie, 1998)
Swingbillies - Hillbilly & Western Swing On Modern/Colonial/Flair 1947-52 (2003)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Madame Sostan" - Lawrence Walker

After WWII, many Cajun musicians that had recorded earlier in the century found a new interest in the songs they had heard and played earlier.  Lawrence Walker was one of those musicians that had recorded briefly in the 1930s, but was prepared to start all over again covering some of the tunes he loved.  One of these tunes would be an old Joe Falcon original called "Madame Sostan" (#624).

Oh Madam Sostan, mais, donnez moi Alida, 

La seul moi j’aimée, mais depuis l’age de quartorze ans,

(Vous) voulez pas m'la donner, j'vous serment j'va la voler,

J'va la passer dans la fenêtre et l’mener à ma maison.


Oh Madame Sostan, mais donnez moi vot’ chère tit fille,
La seul moi j’aimée, mais, ce tout temps, mais, tout ma vie,
(Vous) voulez pas m'la donner, j'vous serment j'va la voler,
J'la passer dans la fenêtre et l’mener à ma maison.
Sosthene Falcon and Josephine Trahan

Having been friends with Joe and his family, he would often take time out to care for their daughter, Loula.  Over time, he would remember the songs they made famous in the early years and re-record them.  

Oh Madam Sostan, well, let me have Alida,

The only one I've loved, well, since the age of fourteen,

If you don't give her to me, I swear, i'm going to steal her,

I'll climb through the window and carry her to my house.


Oh Madam Sostan, well, give me your dear little girl,
The only one I've loved, all this time, my whole life,
If you don't want to give her to me, I swear, i'm going to steal her,
I'll climb through the window and carry her to my house.

Based on the 1934 "La Valse de Madame Sosten", the song deals with Josephine Trahan's daughter, Alida, who is the love interest of a much older man. In Lawrence's version, he begs her parents to have her, even at the point of elopement (taking her through the window).  Josephine was the wife of Joe's uncle Sosthene Falcon Sr. and to this day, the origin of this lover mentioned is unknown. 




  1. Lyrics by Jerry M and Bryan L

Find:

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Accordions, Fiddles, Two Step & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader" by Ron Brown, Ryan A. Brasseaux, and Kevin S. Fontenot

If you like this material and want more, be sure to check out "Accordions, Fiddles, Two Step & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader" by Ryan A. Brasseaux (Editor), Kevin S. Fontenot (Editor), Wayne W. Daniel (Foreword).

Find:
Amazon
Abe Books
UL Press

"Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music" by Ryan Andre Brasseaux

If you like this material and want more, be sure to check out "Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music" by Ryan Andre Brasseaux.

Find:
Amazon
Abe Books
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million

"Arcadian Waltz" - Adam Trahan

In 1928, as Columbia was looking for more Cajun material similar to Joe and Cleoma's music, other amateur musicians watching starry-eyed from the sidelines longed for recognition and a recording contract.  Nineteen-year-old Adam Trahan practiced his accordion assiduously after hearing "Lafayette" and eventually landed a deal with Columbia Records--$100 plus travel expenses--with the help of a local record retailer with ties to the New York--based company.  In December 1928, Columbia records released two Trahan records, one containing the instrumental "Arcadian Waltz" (#40509), before the disenchanted musician slipped into obscurity, never to step foot into a studio again.

Like most national record companies, Columbia's engineers misspelled Cajun words, in this case, his name Trehan and the word Acadian.  There is a distinct dissonance between the accordion's bass and the guitar throughout the songs. According to an interview with Trahan in the 1960s, he explained when it was time for him to go to New Orleans to make that record, his regular guitarist either couldn't (it was at harvest time) or wouldn't make the trip.  So, he picked up some guitar player in New Orleans who didn't know the material. The rhythm of the guitar is perfect, but the chords are nearly 100% wrong.

According to Ron Brown, fans and club owners bombarded the musician with requests to perform for dances following Trahan's debut release, however he declined having a music career.





  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. Accordions, fiddles, two step & swing: a Cajun music reader by Ron Brown, Ryan A. Brasseaux, and Kevin S. Fontenot
  3. Image by Devon F.
Find:
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)