Monday, November 30, 2015

"Five Foot Five" - Bill Hutto

Country artists commonly used Cajun musicians to fill in the ranks as their talent and popularity grew.  As Cajun musicians looked to other bands in order to keep playing, east Texas would provide country music stars looking to record songs around south Louisiana.  During the 1950s, George "Bill" Hutto landed in the J.D. Miller studio and recorded six country tunes, with many of Happy Fat's band members, including Oran "Doc" Guidry, a Cajun fiddle player.  One of his first tunes he recorded was a swingy number called "Five Foot Five" (#1021) for Feature records.   According to Ron Yule, the Sons of the South consisted of several Cajun musicians: Curtis DeLoach on drums, Sandy Lormand on guitar, Bradley Stutes on steel guitar, and Jack Richards on tenor sax.  The group lasted till 1951. 

She's my five foot five,

And boy oh boy, is she alive

She makes me blue, she makes me sad,

But she's the prettiest gal I've ever had,

She's my five foot five.



She can make my heart pitty pat,

She never wants a new dress or a new hat,
She just wants what I can give, baby,
She's my five foot five.

She's my number one,
The only gal for me beneath the sun,
Bill Hutto
And when we go out at night,
She cuddles up close and holds me tight,
She's my five foot five.

She can make my heart pitty pat,
She never wants a new dress or a new hat,
She just wants what I can give, baby,
She's my five foot five.

Rayne Tribune
July 20, 1951
Hillbilly music had always been Miller's favorite music and it was not a difficult decision in leaving his Fais Do Do label to promote his Feature label.  Happy Fats recalls how Bill was slated to play for the Louisiana Hayride one year, however, the owner of Shreveport Syrup, who was backing Happy and Doc's broadcast, had spent a lot of money on the duo and decided otherwise. He would eventually record with Eddie Shuler's Goldband label. Happy recalls:
We stayed on the show in place of poor Bill Hutto which I wasn't glad of because he was a nice boy and everything.  Be they invited us back and we went back several times.5 

Back in Orange, TX, he hosted a television show, in the 1950s, titled "The Bill Hutto Show". In the US Army, he became Personnel Management Specialist with the rank of Staff Sergeant. His assignments included tours of Greenland, Germany, and various posts in the United States.  He later retired from the US Army and was a member of the Disabled American Veterans. He was also a member of the Amateur Ham Radio Club. 




  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txorange/Vital/obits/huttogeorgebill.html
  3. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music: Categories, Stereotypes By Sara Le Menestrel
  4. http://www.bopping.org/happy-fats-leroy-leblanc-his-rayne-bo-ramblers-louisiana-extraordinaire-1935-1967/
  5. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Find:
I'm A Honky Tonk Daddy (Flyright, 1992)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Les Blues De Crowley (Crowley Blues)" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

The "blues" of Cajun music wouldn't be recognized in the same manner as the typical blues music being recorded in New Orleans.   It was more of a wailing sorrow and less of a call-and-response style commonly heard.  It truly was an early synthesis of traditional Cajun material with African American forms. They are reminiscent of the crudely emotive style common in early country blues recorded during the same era in the Mississippi Delta.2  Here is Amede Ardoin's take on the blues, "Les Blues De Crowley" (#2190) on Bluebird records.

Travelling with Dennis McGee, a white fiddler, provided Ardoin, a black accordionist, more protection in places where he played and stayed.3 In 1934, the duo headed to San Antonio, TX for a session with Bluebird records.  This one session at the Texas Hotel accounts for half of his total output of such overtly blues-inspired numbers. 

Oh, je m'en vas, je m'en vas z à la maison

Tout seul, j'ai pas conné ayou c'est,

Demander pour moi te voir.



Oh, je m'en vas, m'en vas à la maison,

M'en vas, ô moi tout seul,

Quoi faire, c'est moi je vas à toi,

T'es après partir toi tout seaul.



Oh, moi je m'en vastous les Samedis au soir,
Oh, je m'en vas à la maison,
Ta mom est après me quereller!

Tes parents ça ceut pas de moi,
Ça veut pas me voir tout seul.

Oh, pourquot, ils sont après me quereller pour ça?


Dennis McGee
Because Ardoin's take on the blues featured French lyrics sung by an accordionist, they seem simultaneously exotic and familiar, foreshadowing the subsequent synthesis at the core of early zydeco.2 According to writer Jared Snyder:
When a musician such as Amede Ardoin wished to play a song like "Les Blues De Crowley", he solved the problem by shifting his hands down the buttons, playin his D accordion in the key of A, a move that allowed him to play the flattened seventh-- a "blue note."  The rest of the effect he accomplished with his powerful voice. 
The following year, slight accordion turns in the song would go onto inspire the main melody in Nathan Abshire's "French Blues".
Oh, I'm leaving, I'm going home,
All alone, I didn't know where to go,
I demand to see you.

Oh, I'm leaving, I'm going home,
I'm leaving all alone,
Why should I go to your place?
You're leaving all alone.

Oh, I'm leaving, every Saturday night,
Oh, I'm going home,
Your mom is quarreling.

Your parents don't want me,
They don't want to see me all alone.

Oh, why are they quarrelling with me?

The song influenced many tunes such as "Rosalia" by Eddie Segura, "Le Crepe A Nasta" in 1937 by Happy Fats, "Hula Hoop Two Step" by Nathan Abshire",  "Le Crepe A Nazaire" by Shirley Bergeron, "Coulee Rodair" by Canray Fontenot and  "Le 'Tit Negre a Tante Dolie" by Ambrose Thibodeaux.  According to collector Jared Mariconi:
Nobody could do it like Amedie and Dennis. They must have been amazing at three in the morning at some fais do do. Sometimes when I think about the cajun blues, it seems like vocally it has similarities to the free form rural blues styles in Texas (such as Texas Alexander) and the east (Barefoot Bill), but with the intensity of Charley Patton or Blind Willie Johnson from the delta. Instead of a stark back and forth interplay between the singer and a guitar, the singer is almost detached from the music and can go wherever they want, even back to declamatory 17th century a capella styles or shouts and yells, because the structure of the musical interplay between the fiddle and accordion is there to return to. What a magical combination of style and structure and McGee and Ardoin did it better than anyone.
Among the thirty-four titles that compose his entire recorded repertoire, Ardoin made specific reference to “blues” only four times, and one half of those references occurred during this single session in San Antonio, a fact that symbolically hints at the role Texas would play in the intermingling of la la and blues for decades to come.4

Regarding the spelling of Dennis vs Denus, after speaking to his relatives, his name is listed as "Dennis" on recordings and his grave site, however, his close friends and family spelled it "Denus".







  1. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
  2. Texas Zydeco By Roger Wood
  3. http://www.louisianatravel.com/music/articles/our-own-music-cajun-and-zydeco
  4. Southeast Texas: Hot House of Zydeco by R. Wood.
  5. Photo by John H.
Find: 
I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Lemonade Song" - Leroy Broussard

LeRoy Broussard was another popular Cajun accordion player during the 1940s.   He had played with Chester "Pee Wee" Broussard. According to Mr. C.J. Broussard, LeRoy was the first Cajun accordionist to play dances standing up contrary to the credit given the late Austin Pitre. C.J., who is said to have owned eleven night clubs, hired LeRoy Broussard to play at his B.O. Sparkle Club in the early 1950's. What brought all this about was that LeRoy would play his accordion when at home often lying in bed! Mr. C.J. asked him how long he could play standing up and the reply from LeRoy was 'as long as you want'. Mr. C.J. Broussard had LeRoy play his dances standing up from then on. 2

Moi j'aime cousin et moi j'aime cousine mais j'aime mieux la cuisinière.  

Samedi, ce soir, moi courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon. 

Dimanche matin, il est tout manière malade,

Passez lui le verre à limonade.



L'hiver arrive, l'hiver arrive, ton p'tit nég a pas de couverte,

Samedi, ce soir, l'ai courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon,
Dimanche matin, j'ai tout manière malade, 
Passez moi le verre à limonade.

Moi j'aime cousin et moi j'aime cousine mais j'aime mieux la cuisinière.  
Samedi, ce soir, moi courir au bal, moi saoulé comme un gros cochon. 
Dimanche matin, il est tout manière malade,
Passez moi le verre à limonade.

Moi je bois du vin et moi je mange des dattes, et tout ça, ça me coute pas rien,
Samedi, ce soir, l'ai courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon,
Dimanche matin, j'ai tout manière malade, 
Passez moi le verre de Kary-On.
Leroy Broussard

In 1957, Leroy entered Eddie Shuler's studio and recorded "Lemonade Song" (#1048), a tune Columbus "Boy" Frugé recorded as "Point Clear Blues" for Victor Records in 1929.  Some rumors claim that "Blackie" Dartez wrote the song for Leroy.  The reason for this was the fact that Blackie had already recorded the tune with Jimmy Choates and the Melody Boys band back in the late 1940s entitled "Petite Negress".  In Leroys' version he replaced Hadacol with Kary-On. "Kary-On" was a popular elixir similar to Hadacol.  It was launched by Louisiana state senator Dudley J. LeBlanc after he sold off his "Hadacol" brand to a syndicate on unwary Yankee investors.
I appreciate my cousin, appreciate my cousin, but I prefer the cook,

Saturday night, I went to the dance, I got drunk like a big pig,

Sunday morning, I wasn't feeling well,

Pass me a glass of lemonade.



Winter comes, winter comes, your old man isn't inside,
Saturday night, I ran to the dance, I got drunk like a big pig,
Sunday morning, I wasn't feeling well,
Pass me a glass of lemonade.

I appreciate my cousin, appreciate my cousin, but I prefer the cook,
Saturday night, I ran to the dance, I got drunk like a big pig,
Sunday morning, I wasn't feeling well,
Pass me a glass of lemonade.

I drank wine and ate dates, and all that, it didn't cost me anything,
Saturday night, had to run to the dance, I got drunk like a big pig,
Sunday morning, I wasn't feeling well,
Pass me the glass of Kary-On.

In 1991, at a jam-session at the Friendly Inn, Lafayette, Louisiana, he dropped in to play a few songs with his friends. He played four numbers and stopped playing complaining of weakness. He died three days later at his home in Carencro, Louisiana.




  1. http://www.discogs.com/artist/2522099-Leroy-Broussard
  2. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14306583\
  3. Image by UL Cajun and Creole Collection
  4. Discussions with Bryan L and 'Bassman'

Find: 
Cajun Dance Tunes Vol.2 (Goldband, 1989)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Tiger Rag Blues" - Breaux Brothers

The Breaux Brothers (listed as "Breaux Freres") became one of the earliest to record standard Cajun tunes on with an accordion led group.   Many of the brothers played several instruments, often switching out during house dances.  

"Tiger Rag" by Charles Dornberger & His Orchestra had become very popular in 1927 and while there's no similarity between the two songs, it's possible this was an ode to the group and their popular song. 

Like the original "Tiger Rag", it's a quick pace accordion-led song, labeled as "blues", yet becoming one of the first Cajun interpretations of New Orleans jazz.
Amede Breaux and Ophy Breaux1

The Vocalion session in San Antonio in 1934 really produced the largest single set of songs by the Breauxs that they ever attempted to record.  One has to question why the brothers never recorded for a major label again after this point. Their family issues became well known and most likely had an effect on their future music career.  




  1. Image by Chris Strachwitz


Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 2: The Early 30s (Old Timey/Arhoolie, 1971)
Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do (Legacy/Columbia, 1994)
Cajun Origins (Catfish, 2001)
The Perfect Roots & Blues Collection (Sony, 2015)

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.
Find:
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)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"'Rang' Tang Bully" - Joe Werner

Joe Werner was easily the most famous Depression-era musician to perform with the Hackberry Ramblers. The talented multi-instrumentalist played guitar and harmonica and whistled with an unusual embouchure that gave the illusion that he was smiling.1  Recorded by Bluebird records in 1938, "'Rang' Tang Bully" (#2075) song title would become Joe's nickname.

According to compiler Samuel Charters:
This is an example of an old Anglo-American folk song with Cajun musical elements.  The song is known by many names, one of the most common "The Bully Of The Town," but this version sounds like the text has come from minstrel show sources rather than from a apurer ballad tradition.  As in many other Cajun recordings, the melodic harmony often changes before the accompaniment harmonies, giving a feeling of harmonic uneasiness to the piece.2  

When you see me coming boys,
With my head all hanging down,
Tell those boys, I'll jock your block,
I'm a rang tang bully in town.

Joe Werner
Freeland Archives, Acadia Parish
I'm a rang tang bully in town,
I'm the pointed guy around,
I can whip the boys, anyway they come,
I tell you folks, I'm a son of a gun.

When you see me coming boys,
With my head all hanging down,
Go tell those boys, on the other block,
I'm a rang tang bully in town.

I'm a rang tang bully in town,
I'm the pointed guy around,
I can whip the boys, anyway they come,
I tell you folks, I'm a son of a gun.


  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music by Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. The Cajuns: Songs, Waltzes & Two Steps.  Liner notes.
Find:
The Cajuns: Songs, Waltzes, & Two-Steps (Folkways, 1971)
JOE WERNER Early Cajun Artist (BACM, 2016)