Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Valse De La Pointe D'Eglise (Church Point Waltz)" - Amede Ardoin

After recording for Columbia records, Decca gained interest in recording Amede Ardoin's Creole tunes.  By 1934, Ardoin was headed to NYC solo where a slew of songs would be waxed.  It would be his last recording session ever.  During this last session, he recorded the tune "Valse De La Pointe D'Eglise (Church Point Waltz)" for Decca (#17023). It was about a small town in south Louisiana known as Church Point. 

While it is discussed here, it's important to know, his death is mysterious and controversial.  While plenty has been written about his death, some say the popular stories are lies and the truth is buried in the midst of time.   

Oh, moi, je m'en vas à la maison,

Moi, donc, je m'en vas, jolie, je m'en vas,

O, catin, ye yaille, moi je voulais pour te rejoindre, jolie.

Oh, c'est à Church Pointe, eux-autres s'en aller,
Oh, c'est la-bas, c'etait l'heure je m'en vas,
C'etait l'heure aller à Church Pointe.

Oh, allons, allons à Church Pointe pour voir,
Oh, pour la voir, oh, c'est la-bas chez Bellard.

Oh, maman, ayou moi je vas aller pour passer,
Ah, oui, quand j'ai arrive, oh, j'arrive à la porte,
Ils sont toujours la pour me recevoir à la porte,
Quand moi j'arrive et ça veut pas moi je rentre,
Parceque ça trouve moi, j'suis saoul à mourir.
Amede Ardoin

The widely accepted account of his death begins on a night when Amédé was playing at a white dance hall. At one point, he asked Celestin Marcantel, a white farmer who let Amédé live in his barn, for a rag to wipe off his sweat; one of the farmer’s daughters handed him a handkerchief.  Several white men saw the exchange. They waited for Amédé afterward, then beat him savagely; some say they ran over him with a Ford Model A, crushing his vocal cords. Amédé did not die immediately, but the beating left him, as one man described, “stone crazy.”2 

Not everyone agrees with this story.  According to Boozoo Chavis:
In that time, them colored people wouldn't do things like that, they'd kill you.  What they done, they poisoned him in his drink.  Because them white women used to go there by the bandstand and ask him to play a number.  They like his music. They wouldn't shoot him, because he had a white partner with him, so they poisoned him.1
Dennis McGee believes he was poisoned by a jealous black fiddler:
There was a black man who played the fiddle and he wanted to play with Amede.  Amede told him "I'm not going to play with you.  if you and I play together, two blacks, the whites are going to kill us".1
The last time I saw Amede he was in Eunice, plated between two railroad tracks.  I said "What's wrong with you Amede?" He was right there and he was lost, lost, lost.  The black man had given him a dose of poison in the whiskey.1
Milton Ardoin and others believe the handkerchief was a polite metaphor for the obvious truth: that Amede had relations with white women, and that's what killed him.

Oh, I'm going to the house,

Me, therefore, I'm going, my pretty, I'm going,

Oh, doll, ye yaille, I wanted to join you, my pretty.

Oh, it's at Church Point, they are all going,
Oh, it's over there, it's time I get going,
It's time to go to Church Point.

Oh, going, going to Church Point to see,
Oh, to see her, oh, it's over there at Bellard's home.

Oh, mom, where am I going to go to lay down,
Ah, yes, when I arrive, oh, I arrive at the door,
They are still always there to welcome me at the door,
When I arrive and they don't want me to come in,
Because they found that I'm drinking to death.

Central Louisiana State Hospital Cemetery

By some accounts, he wound up in a mental institution in Pineville, Louisiana. The only concrete evidence of this, however, is a death certificate issued May 30, 1941 from Pineville for a person named "Amelie Ardoin." And the certificate lists Ardoin as being 20 years older than he actually was at the time. Others say Ardoin eventually left Pineville and headed home.4  Recently discovered, a death card with case no. 13387 reads:
Name: Amede Ardoin. Age: 43. Civil Condition: M. Race: C. Admitted: 9-26- 42. Parish: St. Landry. Residence: Eunice, La. Birthplace: La. Discharged: (blank). Previous Att’ks: None. Heredity History: None. Religion: Catholic. Correspondent: None given. Died: 11- 3-42. Disposition of Body: Buried here.5

“Here” is the common grave at Central Louisiana State Hospital, the mental health facility in Pineville.  Many historians have tried and failed to located his grave marker.5  Years of attempts to recover the body of Amédé, as he is widely known, have come to nothing.   Amédé’s is known only by its general vicinity: the area where the blacks were buried.2  

  1. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
Amadé Ardoin – Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 6 : Amadé Ardoin – The First Black Zydeco Recording Artist (1928–1938) (Old Timey)
I'm Never Comin Back: Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)

Mama I'll Be Long Gone: The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin (Tompkins Square, 2011)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.