Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Lake Arthur Stomp" - Miller's Merrymakers

Jean Baptiste Fuselier headed up the band the Miller's Merrymakers.  It's a Cajun tune created by the fiddle player Varise Conner in 1927.  The tune was originally called "Lake Arthur Two Step" but was soon renamed the "Lake Arthur Stomp".  Varise played at country dances and performed throughout their local community, opting not to play professionally. But his music became influencial to other musicians such as J.B. Fuselier and his Merrymaker's.  By 1937, J.B. recorded the tune for Bluebird in New Orleans.

Hé, yé yaille, chére 'tit fille,

Moi je m'en vas, jolie nuit, 

et pour toi, cher 'ti monde,

Je m'en fais de plus te voir jamais.

Ton papa et ta maman,

M'as toujours dit,
Jolie fille, quoi t'y veux, ça t'y fais,
Z'avec ton neg', Jolaine.
Varise Connor
Varise had loosely used a Dennis McGee tune called "One Step de Mamou". George Connor recalls:
It was such a lively dance, everyone would stomp their feet, so they renamed the tune.
At one point, Fuselier states "quoi t'y veux, ça t'y fais", which is an informal way of saying, "you do what you want anyways". The group consisted of J.B. Fuselier on vocals and fiddle, Bethoven Miller on guitar, and Preston Manuel on guitar. 

Hey, ye yaille, dear little girl,
I am going away into the beautiful night,
And for your, dear little one,
I'm worried I'll never see you again.

Your father and mother,
Always told me,
Pretty girl, you do what you want,
With your old man, Jolaine.

The verse "quoi t'y veux, ça t'y fais" could be heard as "ca tu fait, ca tu fait" meaning "what have you done, what have you done".  J.B. Fuselier, who would end up leading the group after Beethoven Miller quit, had moved to nearby Lake Arthur, Louisiana in the 1930s and played accordion with the Conner Boys for several years at dances.   Crawford Vincent recalls that, when he was a boy, Varise and J.B. played dances at Savan Roy's in Creole, Louisiana  In later years, he recalled, he jammed with Varise and described him as a "fine fiddler".1   Doug Kershaw, who lived near Lake Arthur, would end up recording the tune years later.   Ed Juneau would use the title "Lake Arthur Stomp" however, his tune is a cover of Leo Soileau's "Blues de Port Arthur". 

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers by Ron Yule
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F.
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 3: The String Bands Of The 1930s (Old Timey/Arhoolie, 1971)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

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