Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Korea Blues" - Horace LeBleu

In the late 1940s, all up and down Broad St and HWY 14, Lake Charles was in full swing with all the night lights and nightly bars everywhere.  Chennault Air Force Base was still open and soldiers after the war were looking for places to party and listen to music. It stayed that way for many years.5

Lloyd Horace "Ricky" Lebleu (misspelled on the recording as Lebleau) was born in Sulphur, Louisiana and grew up in the community of Lebleu Settlement, Louisiana, not far from Lake Charles.  Ricky had joined the army during WWII and formed his honky-tonk Cajun string band Bar-X Ramblers shortly afterwards.4  Ricky's group played for all kinds of parties at the parks and the beaches.5   His daughter Mickie recalls:
My dad used to have street dances on Broad St uptown and it was before KPLC aired on TV when they got all this started. It was a swinging town.5 
Horace LeBleau

Horace garnered the name "Ricky" from a Air Force friend and occasional vocalist in the band, Frankie Lowery.   Frankie felt that Horace "looked like a Ricky to him" and the name stuck.  He favored that name, even dressing and combing his hair like Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) from the I Love Lucy show.5   
Hey, jolie mais malheureuse,
Y m'ont app'le la bas z'aussi loin,
Y m'ont app'le d'l'autre bord pour aller m'battre,
Y m'ont app'le z'aussi loin z'a grand Korea.

Hey, jolie mais malheureuse,
Espére moi z'un jour j'va r'venir,
De grand Korea, mais chere, mais, jolie coeur,
Moi j'connais jolie tu vas espérer.
Nookie Martin

Ricky named the group Horace Lebleau and his Bar-X Ramblers and they recorded "Korea Blues" (#603), with vocals by Nuggie (Nookie) "Frenchie" Martin around late 1949.  Frenchie was also a fiddle player well known for his recordings with Eddie Shuler in 1950.  His recording of Korea Blues for Khoury's Recordings seem to mimic the style of Harry Choates.   The Ramblers played in clubs and at shows as far east as Eunice and into Texas on the west. The group included Horace "Ricky" Lebleu on drums, his brothers, Albert "Curly" on fiddle, Nuggie (Nookie) "Frenchie" Martin on lead guitar and vocals, possibly Joe on rhythm guitar, and Ronald Ray "Pee Wee" Lyons on steel guitar.3   Ricky not only was multi-talented playing guitar, harmonica, upright bass and drums, he was a marvelous dancer, even winning dancing contests.  According to Ricky's daughter Mickie:
My dad always was a man of kindness and always had a smile for everyone. My mother had always made all the bands shirts to be dressed alike.5   

The name "Bar-X" was suggested by Ricky's father, Lloyd J. Lebleu.  Back when many people still rode horse-pulled buggies, there were a lot of bars with no names.  The Lebleu brothers played in many of these honky-tonks.   Lloyd decided on a name of all the unknown, rough places they had played and came up with "Bar X".5
Hey, my pretty, oh well,
Called me down here from far away,
Called me to the other side to go fight,
Called me far away to big Korea.

Hey, my miserable pretty,
Wait for me, I hope one day to return,
From big Korea, well dear, well, my lovely sweetheart,
I know, my pretty, you will be waiting.
Oct 18, 1946

The word "espérer" directly translates to "hope" or "wish", however, in Cajun French, it means more along the lines of "to wait for", and in some cases "to hope for".

His group featured guest musicians such as Link Davis and Ralph Richardson.  He and his brother Curly were also known to have worked with Crawford Vincent4 and Ronald Ray "Pee Wee" Lyons.  Ricky appeared on KPLC with Gary Tyler and Lee Janot years later, even appearing on TV as well.   After the brothers began getting different occupations, the group split in late 1949 or early 1950, with only Ricky and Curly playing together occasionally.5  

Ricky and Frankie formed Ricky and the Hound Dogs in 1952 with brothers Jack Hall on guitar and Bill Hall on bass.  They played in places such as the Moulin Rouge in Sulpher and wrote the popular swamp pop song "She's Walking Toward's Me" recorded by Charles Mann. Ricky would later join the musical group Minos Broussard and the Riverside Ramblers of Rayne, completely separate from the well-known Riverside Ramblers of Hackberry fame.  Later in the 1970s, he formed another group, Ricky and the Rockets with Jerry Dee and Jimmy Labouve.5 

  1. http://www.hillbilly-music.com/groups/story/index.php?groupid=16834
  2. http://wired-for-sound.blogspot.com/2010/04/bar-x-cowboys-on-eddies.html
  3. My Fiddlin' Grounds by Ron Yule
  4. Discussions with Ron Yule
  5. Discussions with Mickie L L Vige
  6. Lyrics by 'ericajun' and Herman M
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)


  1. Having lived in Sulphur for years unfortunately I had not heard of him or his music.
    A borrowed tune, Grand Texas and maybe from some other title .

  2. great and detailed story that of Rick Lebleu! Thanks Wade. Keep up the good work!


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