Thursday, December 22, 2016

"French Two Step" - Hackberry Ramblers

The Hackberry Ramblers started with a fiddle and guitar, with Luderin Darbonne and Edwin Duhon, although Duhon played an accordion later.  The first job for the Ramblers was a house dance, without a fee but with permission to pass a hat for donations. They enlisted another Hackberry guitar player, Alvin Ellender, and played with two guitars and a fiddle. The dancers applauded, and put money in the hat when it was passed.2

Darbone ordered a $50 electric amplifier from Sears Roebuck & Co. Then he learned that their first nightclub appearance would be in a club that had no electricity.  Darbone parked his Model A Ford near the back door of the club, ran a line through the door to the bandstand, started the automobile and let the idling engine provide power for the sound system.  It worked, especially enhancing the fiddle played by Darbone.2

Floyd Shreve, Luderin Darbone,
Danny Shreve, Claude "Pete" Duhon

By 1938, the group had picked up Floyd and Danny Shreve on guitars and Claude "Pete" Duhon on bass.   Edwin had left the group by this point and they made their way to the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans to record "French Two Step" (#2059) for Bluebird records.  The tune is based on an earlier called "Charlie's Song" by Charlie Loola.  It was made well known by Bob Wills as "Spanish Two Step".   According to Wills' biographer Charles Townsend, Wills composed the tune in New Mexico in 1927 but didn't record it until 1935.1 

  1. The Crooked Stovepipe: Athapaskan Fiddle Music and Square Dancing in ... By Craig Mishler
  2. "Hackberry Ramblers Making music since 1933". DON KINGERY. American Press, Friday, September 24, 2004
Western Swing, Vol. 1 (Old Timey, 1966)
Cajun String Bands 1930's: Cajun Breakdown (Arhoolie, 1997)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)
The Best of Western Swing (Collector Sound) (Tsk Music, 2012)
Et La Bas (Black & Partners LLC, 2014)

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