Friday, December 9, 2016

"Allons A Lafayette" - Harry Choates

America’s Cajun craze reached its apex in 1946 after Harry Choate's "Jole Blon" went national.  In the fall, Quinn enticed Choates back to the studio, insisting on straight-forward Cajun music. He was shocked at the response he got and urged Harry to get into the studio to record more traditional Cajun tunes, thinking he was on to something. Choates cut "Allons A Lafayette" (#1319) for his third session later that year with Bill Quinn's Gold Star label.  Clearly influenced by the music he heard as kid, Joe and Cleoma Falcon's music had a huge impact, especially "Lafayette". Harry himself played not only the fiddle, but also the guitar and what he jokingly called "an Abbeville Air Compressor" which was the Cajun accordion.5   Harry's version of the song is the first to be recorded with the fiddle and without an accordion.  

Allons a Lafayette c'est pour changer ton nom,

Comment mais on va t'appeller? Madam Cannaille, comme moi,

Tite fille tes trop mignonne pour faire ta criminelle,

Pour quoi te fait pitié, oui mais, jolie fille.

Allons a Lafayette pour voir les 'tites francais,

C'est, mais, se aimables, (z)'aimaient, mais, l'amuser.

Hey petit fille (pour)quoi t'après ma quitté,

Quoi tu fait quitté oui c’est criminelle.
Billboard Magazine
March 15, 1947
His group now contained seven members in which they would play dance halls between Louisiana and Texas.  Esmond Pursley on guitar, Abe Manuel Sr. on guitar, Joe Manuel on vocals and banjo, B.D.Williams on bass, Curzy Roy on drums, and Johnnie Manuel on piano.  Choates stayed with The Melody Boys, who recorded two dozen songs for Gold Star Records in 1946-47, primarily to promote his live performances. For one session, Choates had to buy a fiddle from a pawn shop on the way to the studio, having absentmindedly left his regular instrument with a woman he’d spent the night with.

Let's to go Lafayette, to change your name.

What will we call you? Mrs. Mischievous, like me.

Little girl, you're too cute to be this bad,

For you are pitiful, oh yeh, pretty girl.

Let's go to Lafayette to see the little french ones,

They're kind, lovable, however fun.

Hey, little girl, why are you leaving me?

Why are you pitiful?, Yeh, it's terrible.
Lake Charles American Press
Feb 19, 1947

In 1959, Pappy Daily acquired the Gold Star masters and re-released the song on their label as "Allons A Lafayette" (#273) on 78RPM and on D Records 45RPM (#1023).  It was very likely that Harry Choates had no idea that "Jole Blon" had made him a national celebrity. He was perfectly content to play his Texas and Louisiana night spots. In 1947 (some say 1948), at the Lake Charles Coliseum, two Grand Ole Opry performers who later become immortals, Ernest Tubbs and Minnie Pearl, had stopped in Lake Charles while on tour and were in the crowd.  When they heard Harry, Tubbs was overwhelmed and pleaded with Harry to come to Nashville.  Harry's drummer Curzy Roy could not believe what he was hearing. Harry refused, telling Tubbs that Nashville was 800 miles away... just too far to travel.1 


  1. Poor Hobo: The Tragic Life of Harry Choates, a Cajun Legend by Tim Knight
  3. Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings
  4. Lyrics by Jerry M, Bryan L, and Marc C
Harry Choates ‎– The Fiddle King Of Cajun Swing (Arhoolie, 1982, 1993)
Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings (Bear Family, 2002)
Cajun Champs (Arhoolie, 2005)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.