Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Allons Danser Colinda" - Happy, Doc And The Hadacol Boys

Known as the first recording producer to create a label dedicated to Cajun music, in 1946, J. D. Miller started his Fais Do Do record label and began recording his first set of artists: Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc on vocals and guitar and Oran "Doc" Guidry on fiddle. 

Allons danser, Colinda,

Allons danser, Colinda,

Allons danser, Colinda,
Pour faire fâché les vieilles femmes.

Allons danser, Colinda,
Allons danser, Colinda,
Pendant ta mère est pas là,
Pour faire fâché les vieilles femmes.

C'est pas tout le monde qui peut danser,
Tous les vieilles valses des vieux temps,
Pour faire fâché les vieilles femmes,
Allons danser, Colinda.

J.D. recalls the event:
I got checking around and found out that Cosimo Matassa had a studio in New Orleans, so I called him, made arrangements, and picked up Happy Fats and Doc Guidry.  The first record was "Allons Danse Colinda"--we called it "Colinda".1
The first Fais Do Do release, "Allons Dancer Colinda" (#1001) by Happy, Doc and the Boys, sold only moderately, but Happy Fats remembers the record (derived from the Calinda voodoo dance brought to Louisiana by Negro slaves from Haiti, San Domingo, and the West Indies) with affection. The well-known song is about a Cajun boy asking a girl named Colinda to do a risqué dance with him.   According to Happy:
We took the name from a song called "Danse Colinda".  We got it from a book in a library at Southwestern University, Lafayette.  Actually, it was a Haitian song, so we just took the name, the tune is not the same, or the lyric.  Doc Guidry and I just sat down and we wrote a French song, a two- or three- chord song that is pretty easy to write.  Our recording never did make much of an impression, but I've been collecting royalties on it ever since Jimmie Davis recorded it in 1949.1
Happy Fats may not have realized it, but, Doc's melody came from a much older song which influenced Dennis McGee's "Madame Young" back in the 1920s. Later, when interviewed by Shane Bernard, Doc Guidry testifies they created neither:
It was a mistake when they put "Words and music by Happy and Doc".3

Calinda (Kalinda) is also a martial art, as well as kind of folk music and dance in the Caribbean which arose in the 1720s. Calinda is the French spelling, and the Spanish equivalent is calenda; it is a kind of stick-fighting commonly seen practiced during Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. There, Carnival songs are considered to be derived from calinda chants and "lavways".

Calinda is also one name assigned to an Afro-Caribbean form of stick fighting as practiced in Haiti and entering the United States through the port city of New Orleans. It is also practiced in other parts of the Caribbean, such as Martinique. Considered indecent by the respectable portion of the population, it was officially banned throughout the State in 1843, but continued to be performed for many years afterward.2

An early version of the Calinda was danced only by men, stripped to the waist and brandishing sticks in a mock fight while at the same time balancing upon their heads bottles of water. As soon as a dancer spilled a drop of his water he was banished from the field. Later the Calinda degenerated into a thoroughly lascivious performance.

Let's go dancing, Colinda,

Let's go dancing, Colinda,

Let's go dancing, Colinda,
To make the old women angry.

Let's go dancing, Colinda,
Let's go dancing, Colinda,
While your mother's not around,
Make the old women angry.

Not everyone knows how to dance to them,
Old waltzes of long ago,
Make the old women angry,
Let's go dancing, Colinda.

The Fais Do Do label 78s are now very rare since in the late sixties, Jay Miller offered his entire stock to a local fair for use as sideshow shooting targets.1

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  3. Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues By Shane K. Bernard

Fais Do Do Breakdown - Volume One - The Late 1940's (Flyright, 1986)
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

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