Saturday, November 12, 2016

"Valse De Pointe Noire" - Angelas Lejeune

One of the most influencial melodies in Cajun music.   Next to "Jolie Blonde" and "Grand Texas", this melody has generated popular tunes, most of them after WWII.  Angelas Lejeune's Brunswick session generated a slew of songs which would become standards throughout Cajun music.   If it weren't for a stroke of luck, entering and winning an accordion contest, Angelas' music may never have been heard for future generations.  

According to Moise Robin, many musicians were passed up to record for this session:

They had a contest in Opelousas.  They awarded the best player in the contest.  The winner was going to make a record in New Orleans.  So, they refused Joe Falcon and his wife and they refused Leo Soileau and me to go because we had made records already. They wanted somebody who hadn't made records yet. So that's why they gave Angelas the best player in the contest.  So he went with Dennis McGee.1

Oh! Malheurse, criminal, chère, malheurse.

Oh, Si souvent, moi j'vois tes, chèrs "tit yeux, qu'est si doux après me regarder moi.

Oh! Jongles chère tu vas voir ton erruer, fait pas ça, toi t'as fait malheureuse.

Oh! Quoi t'as fais avec ton nèg, te connai moi je prends ça aussi dur.

Oh! Quand prends jonglé, chère, tout l'temps, moi j'pourrai même pleurer tout(es) les nuits, mais, pour toi.
Angelas Lejeune

Pointe Noire was a small community in Louisiana which the Lejeune family originated.  It was a an area known to be a rowdy and rough, similar to the Marais Bouleur community.  According to author Barry Ancelet:
When the men from Marais Bouleur came to Ossun, there was a fight.  When the men from Pointe Noire came to Marais Bouleu, there was a fight.  And if men from Marais Bouleur and Pointe Noire came to Ossun, there was a big fight.2

His fiddle player backing him was Ernest Fruge and Dennis McGee, who himself had previously recorded with Amede Ardoin.  Together, the three-piece group recorded "Valse De Pointe Noire" (#370) in 1929.   It was very similar to the Fawvor Brother's version of "La Valse De Creole" and Bixy Guidry's "Vien a la Maison Avec Moi" recorded the same year.   Amede Ardoin would borrow similar stylings for his "La Valse Du Ballard" in 1934.  According to the local papers in Opelousas and Crowley:

Angelas Lejeune a resident of Acadia parish, accompanied by D. McGee, of Eunice, LA., and E. Fruge of Lewisburg, La., won the grand prize offered by the leading accordion player in what was considered the first state-wide contest of its kind yet held.  The accordion contest was sponsored by the Opelousas Herald, local weekly newspaper, and various leading business interest throughout the city. 
Oh! Oh my, it's terrible, dear, oh my.

Oh, so often, I see your dear little yes, which are so sweet looking after me.

Oh! Reminiscing, dear, you'll see your mistake, don't do that, you've made yourself so unhappy.

Oh! What've you done to your old man, you know I'm taking this hard, also.

Oh, When I take to reminiscing, dear, all the time, I could even cry all night, well, for you.
Anglelas' song stayed mostly forgotten until after WWII when a slew of musicians used the melody for their own songs.  Floyd Leblanc first used it in his "Brow Bridge Waltz" in 1947 followed by Abe Manuel and his "Ville Platte Waltz"  Most notably, Nathan Abshire's "Kaplan Waltz" in 1949 and his "Texas Waltz" in 1954 adopted the melody. 

  2. Cajun Country By Barry Jean Ancelet
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 5: The Early Years 1928-1938 (Old Timey, 1973)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

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