Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"La Valse De La Ru Canal" - Moise Robin & Leo Soileau

Cajun musician Moise Robin was the second accordionist that fiddler Leo Soileau had a regular duo with. The two began performing together in 1928, shortly after Soileau’s first partner, Mayeus LaFleur, was shot and killed.  During the summer and fall of 1929, they recorded for three different companies: Paramount, Victor, and Vocalion.  Together, they traveled to the Gennett Recording Studio, Starr Piano Company Building, Whitewater Gorge Park in Richmond, Indiana around July of 1929.  The session produced "La Valse De La Rue Canal" (#12830) an ode to Canal Street, New Orleans' major commercial and Americanized cultural thoroughfare.

Moi, j'connais, moi j'ai vu, dans le brouillard, hier matin,

J'ai demandé à ton papa pourquoi tu viens pas à la maison.

Ton papa et ta maman z'é (?)m'as dit, malheureuse,
C'est trop jeune pour tu t'aimé avec ton neg', oh, yé yaille,
Quelles nouvelles que moi j'attends, chère 'tite fille, ça crève mon cœur,
Mais comment donc  moi j'vas faire, moi tout seul, malheureuse.

C'est la danse que j’étais z'avec toi, mais malheureuse. 
mais (re)garde encore qui sont aprés faire avec nous autre aujourd'hui. 
Ecoute pas ton papa (et) de ta maman, oh, chere 'tite fille. 
Et tu vas venir dans la maison z'avec moi d'un jour à venir.
Moise Robin

Robin, an admirer of LaFleur, was 17 at the time he and Soileau began playing dances. Sometimes they also performed as a trio, with Soileau’s wife Joyce accompanying on guitar and vocals. Within a year of forming, the duo recorded; and while they were away recording, Robin did not eat, and slept in a chair, in order to save all of the money he earned for a T-Model Ford.  
I know, I saw through the fog, yesterday morning,
I asked your dad why you didn't come home.

Your dad and your mom told me they're unhappy,
That's too young for you to be in love with an older man, oh yé yaille,
That news I awaited for, dear little girl, burst my heart,
Well, how am I going to make it all by myself, oh my.

This is the dance I had with you, well oh my,
Well, look who's still with us after another day,
Don't listed to your dad and your mom, oh dear little girl,
And come to the house with me another day in the future.

Soileau began a year long partnership with Robin, but the two failed to click. Tension stemmed from artistic differences. Soileau was starting to chaff under the limitation of the accordion.  In French music, he told Ralph Rinzler, co-founder of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival:

"You stay right there.  It's the same D, G, C.  There's no chorus in that son of a gun (Cajun music)... accordion and fiddle, it's just you got to pap.  You just can't stop."

The accordion melody could have been inspired by John Bertrand's "Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin", however, the vocals are unique on their own.   It's an eerie accordion piece that eerily mimics Iry Lejeune's later recording of "I Went To The Dance". 

  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. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  4. Discussions with Joslyn Layne
  5. Photo by Eric S
  6. Lyrics by Stephane F
  7. Label scan by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Cajun and Creole Music Collection - Special Collections

Paramount Old Time Recordings (JSP, 2006)

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