Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Midway Two Step" - Austin Pitre & Milton Molitor

By 1957, 10 years had passed since the dance-hall revival of Cajun music after the war.   Khoury's Cajun recordings were on the decline, only occasionally recording Nathan Abshire from time to time.   J.D. Miller was still going, but both were leaning towards country, R&B and rock n roll artists; no longer interested in the dismal attention Cajun music was getting.  

Then came the first pressing by record-man Floyd Soileau.  Soileau's first label, Big Mamou, was formed in partnership with Ed Manuel, a Mamou, Louisiana, jukebox operator, nightclub owner, and regular customer of Floyd's Record Shop, who had the financial backing to assist the young entrepreneur. Manuel had also taped Cajun musicians Milton Molitor and Austin Pitre at a party where they performed "Midway Two Step"(#101) in 1957.  It was taken from Milton's early recording with Chuck Guillory known as "Walfus Two Step". 

Hé, chérie! qu'est ce qui t'as fais faire ça,

Hé, j'connais pas je mérite pas ça t'as fait.

Hé, aujourd'hui, tu plais z-à tout le monde,
Hé pointe au doigt, ça dit que c'est grand vaurien,
Hé, bébé, moi je mérite pas ça,
Hé, chérie, gardez donc que tous j'ai eu.

Hé, chérie, tu vas tuer(?) à mes parents, 
Hé, quand , moi,j'vas aller pour m'en aller,
Hé ,chérie, je connais pas (ce) qui arrive,
Hé, maman, t'espere moi je m'en vas.

Hé, chérie, j'pars, moi, la bas, 
Hé yéyaie, je connais pas tu vas revenir,
hé yéyaie, y' plus personne qui veut me voir,
Hé maman, j'espere donc pour je m'en vas.

Although these songs were recorded merely to advertise a couple of Manuel's nightclubs, Soileau shipped the masters to Don Pierce's Starday Records in Nashville. During his days at KVPI, Soileau had often run across promotional fliers from Starday, which read "If you've got a tape, we can press a record for you." The Big Mamou releases sold encouragingly and began to revive interest in Cajun music around Ville Platte.1  He said

Ed said, "We're gonna call this 'Manual Bar Waltz' and 'Midway Two Step'" because those were two nightclubs he had an interest in and he wanted some publicity. We put our first record out and started selling it.2
Austin Pitre, Lurlin Lejeune and Milton Molitor
In time-honored fashion, the artists were using the records to encourage dance bookings.  Soileau recalls his exposure to the music:
And then when word got out that somebody in Ville Platte was releasing French records again. . . . I say again because most—in fact, I think everybody had stopped, they weren't selling enough French records. . . . Country music had come through and sorta swept around here and there was nobody interested in doing Cajun records anymore. So we put that first record out. It sent the message that there was somebody releasing that kind of music again.1
Author John Broven jokingly refers to the name of the Midway Club as "midway between this community and that community!", referring to Breaux Bridge and Lafayette.4  

Hey honey! What makes you do this,

Hey, I don't know, I don't deserve what you've done.

Hey, now, everyone likes you,
Hey, pointing your finger, saying that here is a big scoundrel,
Hey, baby, I do not deserve this,
Hey, darling, look at everything I had.

Hey, honey, you're going to ruin my parents,
Hey, when I go, I've got to go,
Hey, honey, I don't know what happened,
Hey, mom, you expect me to leave.

Hey, darling, I'm leaving, I'm feeble,
Hey, oh my, I don't know if you're gunna come back,
Hey, oh my, over there, no one wants to see me,
Hey, mom, I expect I'll be leaving. 

  1. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Articles_Essays/miller_and_soileau.html
  2. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  3. http://louisianadancehalls.com/dance_hall/midway-club/
  4. Floyd's Early Cajun Singles.  John Broven.  Liner notes.
  5. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F
Floyd's Early Cajun Singles (Ace, 1999)

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