Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Tolan Waltz" - Chuck Guillory

Murphy "Chuck" Guillory, originally from Mamou, was a good hillbilly, Cajun-swing singer and fluent fiddle player who recorded J.D. Miller's Feature and Folk-Lyric labels. He regularly performed alongside his father, playing fiddle duets at a local bar each Saturday afternoon. After WWII, he recorded with Cajun musician Milton Molitor with his band the Rhythm Boys (featuring a young singer from Beaumont named George Jones).   Miller had heard about Modern Records recording Chuck's group in New Orleans featuring Jimmy Newman and Papa Cairo in 1948.  The sessions had been part of an extensive southern field trip by Modern. By 1949, it's believed Miller brought them to his studio to record Guillory's "Tolan Waltz" and released it on Colonial.

Moi, j'connais, chérie, un jour à venir, chérie. 

Tu vas revenir, tu seras trop tard. 
Chuck Guillory

Tolan McCullough was a popular blacksmith, rice mill operator and saloon owner in Eunice, not far from Mamou. Chuck Guillory and Jimmy Newman composed this song in his honor. The song features a lengthy sample of Red Farbacher's playing style on steel guitar; the key person from whom Papa Cairo had borrowed the melody for "Allons Kooche Kooche" and "Grand Texas".  This time, they borrowed some of the melody of Joe Falcon's "Poche Town".

I know, dear, one day eventually, dear,

You'll return, you will be too late.

Colonial, a subsidiary of the Bihari brother's Modern Records, was a label out of Hollywood, California that released recordings between 1947 and 1952.  Les Bihari handled the sales and the other two brothers, Joe and Jules, supervised the production and distribution.  It focused on hillbilly, race, and gospel "spiritual" genres.  Sometimes confusion occurs with other labels with the same name in Monterey Park, North Carolina, Nashville, Berkeley Springs, Boston, and NYC.  It's possible J.D. Miller had outsourced his recordings and had Modern/Colonial press even more than he could back home.  Despite the popularity of the song, the market was too localized for this ambitious concern or its fellow independents.  Chuck retired in 1958.

Opelousas Daily World
May 20, 1949

In 1982, having been re-discovered, he re-recorded the tune in a new recording session, this time with band members Michael Doucet, David Doucet and guitarist Preston Manuel taking most of the vocals. In the late '80s, Guillory re-formed the Rhythm Boys to play dances and record for the Arhoolie label, with his 1987 sessions for the company later collected on the 1998 release Grand Texas. Later, Tolan would be covered by Dennis McGee and Sady Courville.

Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1949

Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1982

Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1987

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven. p34.
  2. MADE IN LOUISIANA.  VRCD 325.  MARC SAVOY - Accordion. DEWEY BALFA - Fiddle. D. L. MENARD - Guitar.  Liner notes.
  3. Billboard Apr 23, 1949
  4. Chuck Guillory: Grand Texas.  Liner notes.
  6. Lyrics by Stephane F
Chuck Guillory: Grand Texas (Arhoolie, 1998)
Jimmy C NEWMAN - The Original Cry, Cry, Darling (Jasmine, 2009)

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