Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Welcome Club Waltz" - Lionel Cormier

Lionel Cormier began learning the accordion from his father, Arvilian, at an early age. By the age of 12 he was playing the accordion for family gatherings and house dances in the Acadia Parish region. After marriage and a move to Gueydan, in 1935, he settled in Elton where he continued to play the accordion, mainly at house parties and family gatherings. After playing a few dances following World War II, he joined Percy Fuselier in 1947 to form the Elton Playboys. Within a couple years he regrouped and headed the Sundown Playboys.2

Tu m'as quitte, pour t'en aller,
T'en aller avec un autre,
Moi, j'connais, merite pas ça,
Ça ta fais moi a pas longtemps.


Moi, j'ma va, mais, mon tout seul,
P'us personne, mais, pour m'maimer,
Moi, j'connais ça fais la peinne,
Moi, j'connais merite pas ça, mais, malheurese.


Wallace Touchet, Lesa Cormier, Lionel Cormier,
Orsy "R.C" Vanicor, Howard Mire

Named after a popular dancehall in Acadia Parish, the "Welcome Club Waltz" (#1037) recorded in 1952, was named after the Welcome Club located in Crowley, Louisiana.  Opened in the 1930s as the Delta Club, it hosted blues and jazz musicians throughout the 1940s.  The use of the club's name made sense, because it was one of many places Miller kept his jukeboxes playing his store's Feature records.    Lionel's recording contained a melody similar to a version of "La Valse de Grand Chenier" and the old Creole tune "T'es Petite et T'es Mignonne".   It's quite possible it also inspired Lawrence Walker's "Reno Waltz".  By the late 1950s, the popular place became Club L'Acadien and remained that way for years.

You left me, you went away,

You went away with another,

I know I don't deserve that,

That you've done not long ago.

I'm going, well, all alone,
Nobody, well, to love me,
I know that it hurts me,
I know I do not deserve that, well, oh my.


Crowley Daily Signal
May 13, 1955

The early band featured Lionel on accordion, Emory Lapoint on guitar and vocals, John Darbonne on drums, and Percy on fiddle. Darbonne played a short while and was replaced by Lionel’s son, Lesa. Also, Orsy Vanicor played the steel guitar for a while in late 1948, until he joined his family in Lacassine to play with Iry Lejeune and the Lacassine Playboys. Larry Miller from Iota replaced Vanicor on the steel guitar, and during 1949 Percy left the band and was replaced by Jake Bertrand.  As personnel changed, Lesa renamed the band, the Sundown Playboys.2  By the time the band was in Miller's studio, it featured Howard Mire on guitar and vocals, Wallace ‘Red’ Touchet on fiddle, Larry Miller on steel guitar, and Tan Benoit on drums. 


Lionel was successful in landing radio airplay including places like KPLC in Lake Charles, KSUL in Sulphur and KJEF in Jennings.    In 1971, KJEF announcer Jerry Dugas hosted a show at the Bamboo Club on Highway 14.  The highlight of the event was not the music, but an unforeseen event.  While Lionel Cormier and the Sundown Playboys were preparing to play, Lionel had a massive heart attack, fell to the bandstand, and died while Jerry was making announcements.2









  1. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge By Martin Hawkins
  2. Cajun Dancehall Heyday by Ron Yule
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F

Find:
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"Waltz Of Regret" - Lawrence Walker

Lawrence Walker had built a recording career for 5 years under the direction of George Khoury, ending it during the mid 50s.  "Regret" seemed to be his last recording under Khoury's label.   After dabbling in country music the previous year, George reverted back to his original recording artists that he trusted and in 1955, released a string of tunes by Nathan Abshire and at least one session by Lawrence Walker's band.

Oh, promet-moi cher ‘tit cœur

De jamais m'avoir donner 
Comme t'as pris, oui, ton coeur

Tu m’as pris d’la maison, chèr ‘tit cœur
Tes bonnes paroles qui m’a fait
M’en aller (z) avec toi.
Crowley Daily Signal
Mar 31, 1956

Being a huge fan of Joe Falcon's music, he reworked Joe's "Poche Town" into what he called the "Waltz of Regret" (#648).  Sadly, Khoury's session notes were nonexistent.  Identifying Lawrence's band during the Khoury sessions is difficult.  It possibly featured Al Forman on guitar, possibly Demux Comeaux on guitar, possibly U.J. Meaux on fiddle, and possibly either Lawrence Trahan, Bhuel "Huffy" Hoffpauir or Shelton Manuel on drums.  

Oh, promise me, dear, little sweetheart,

Never have given to me,
How you've taken, yes, your heart.

You took me from home, dear little sweetheart,
Your good word which made me,
Go away with you.

By the end of 1955, the writing was on the wall.   The influence of rock and roll was taking a toll on Cajun music sales.   R&B and country music was on an up hill swing and Cajun music sales weren’t the same as they were almost 10 years earlier.   George began focusing on R&B and pop tunes, slowing moving away from Cajun all together.   The result was that Lawrence ceased recording completely, relegating himself to the dance hall circuit, until 1958, when he met record producer Floyd Soileau.







  1. Lyrics by Marc C and Stephane F

Find:

Cajun Honky Tonk: Khoury Recordings (Arhoolie, 1995)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Come And Get Me" - Iry Lejeune

Like so many  other bright young musicians, Iry Lejeune's life was cut short and we're left to wonder what might have been. Iry's haunting music and fame has grown over time, it's now legendary, thanks to Iry's foot-stomping and captivating music along with the many heartwarming stories of him. He became a musical icon in Cajun music after his death. He has influenced more young Cajun musicians  than any other of his contemporaries. Through the redemptive power of music, Iry Lejeune  established himself not only as an accomplished accordion player but also as a talented singer and music composer.2

Iry brought the accordion back to popularity in the 1950's after it had been neglected in the 1940's.  "Come And Get Me" (#1057), better known as "Viens Me Chercher", was recorded by Amede Ardoin and Dennis McGee in 1929 as "Tante Aline".  He is felt by many to truly sing the soul of the prairie with his lonely cries and powerful accordion playing. The story tells of a young man lamenting that his "catin" won't come back since her old father dragged her back home. Every night he kisses his pillow making believe it is she beside him.1



Oh, y yaie, cher tit monde, catin, 

Mets-toi à voir, bien à jongler, ça t'as fait,

C'est pas la peine que tu te lamentes, viens donc me chercher, ye yaille,

Ton papa va me dire je peut pas aller t'après.



Oh, tit fille, c'est tous les soirs, je me couche
J'embrasse mon oreiller des fois en jonglant,
Faire des accroires que ça serait toi, qui serais là, ye yaille,
Mais tout je peux voir, tu t'en reviendrais pas me voir.


Recorded in around 1954 at Iry's house, with Eddie Shuler's tape recorder, pressed on Goldband records on one 78 label, and 2 other 45s.  It featured Wilson Granger on fiddle and Alfred "Duckhead" Cormier on guitar.
Crowley Daily Signal
Oct 27, 1950

Similar tunes are Dewey Balfa's "Je Suis Orphelin," "L'Orphelin" (in Irene Whitfield's book) and Rodney LeJeune's "Valse des Musiciens."   Mistakenly, author Josh Caffery lists the song related to Amede Ardoin's "La Valse à Thomas Ardoin" however, he probably meant Ardoin's "Valse A Austin Ardoin".   Iry's group, the Lacassine Playboys, were playing in dance halls all over south Louisiana.  His group was playing nightly alongside other popular musicians such as Nelson "Pee Wee" Kershaw, Bill Landry, Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez, and others.

Oh ye yaille, my dear little everything,

Pretty doll, come and see me,

Well, to reminisce what you've done,

It's not worth complaining about it,

Come and see me,

Ye yaille, your dad told me,
I can't go after you.

Oh, little girl,
Every night, I go to bed,
I kiss my pillow,
Sometimes reminiscing,
Making believe that it is you,
Who would be there,
Well, I can see now,
You will not come and see me.






  1. http://www.voyagerrecords.com/LN325.htm
  2. "Iry  Lejeune" by William Thibodeaux.  The Crowley Post. Sept 27th, 2013.
Find:
The Legendary Iry LeJeune (Goldband, 1991)
Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2004)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"New Iberia Polka" - Segura Brothers

As 1928 wrapped up, Columbia planned to record one last time in New Orleans in late December.   As Dewey and Eddie Segura were on a moonshine trip, they discovered the recording opportunity and arrived in time, with Dewey on accordion and Eddie on triangle, to record the "New Iberia Polka" (#40507).   His uncle's son-in-law, a photographer, had some connection with these record manufacturers--Columbia--who at the time, visited New Orleans every six months or so for recording sessions.2  While polkas in south Louisiana weren't common, they were clearly still part of the Cajun music repertoire during the turn of the century; something clearly evident given Nathan Abshire's "Old Folks Polka" and Happy Fats' "La Polka a Gilbert".  According to record producer Christopher King:


This is essential since mazurkas, polkas, gallopades, varsoviannas,  and cotillions held a strong place in the early Cajun fiddle and dance repertoire but became less popular with the introduction of the diatonic accordion.1
Dewey and Eddie Segura

By 1929, Dewey made two or three trips to New Orleans to try and make further recordings, deciding on hunches when the record company might be in town.  On the first trip, he hobo-ed to New Orleans by rail with his brother Eddie.  They missed the record people, but their uncle was successful in arranging a broadcast for them.  The radio station, very probably WWL, ran an anyone-can-play show on which the Seguras played two numbers.  The reception to their act was so great (telephone calls and telegrams being received by the station) that the other acts were postponed while he and his bother played "all night".2   
According to New Orleans musician Tristan Harrell, it's not a polka, but something completely different altogether. 
What’s funny is this isn’t a polka at all. It’s a Shottische/Chotis (spanish). Funny how a polka evidently meant something different to these guys.3








  1. https://oldtimeparty.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/himself/#more-10194
  2. Old Time Music. No.40. Winter 1984.  John H Cowley
  3. Discussions with Tristan Harrell

Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 1: First Recordings - The 1920's (Old Timey, 1970)
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Jolie (Brunette)" - Jolly Boys of Lafayette

Attesting to the endurance of Jolie Blonde as a true Cajun song, it's melody can be found in numerous recordings, both before the war and afterwards.  As the Hackberry Ramblers were reveling in their recent release of "Jolie Blonde" for Bluebird records in late 1936, Decca had the Jolly Boys of Lafayette covered the same tune in early 1937 at a session in Dallas, Texas, but with a different title called "Jolie Brunette" (#17032).   The melody came from the first recording of "Ma Blonde Est Partie" by the Breaux family. 



Jolie brune, ouais, tu connais,
J’ai mérité pas, ça t’après m'faire,
Et moi, je connais tu vas pleurer,
Avant longtemps d’avoir fait ça tu m’as fait.

Joli cœur, moi je connais,
T'auras du regret de pas bienfait, 
Mais, ça t’as fait il y pas longtemps,
Fais pas ça à ton pauvre vieux negre, malheureuse.



The Jolly Boys of Lafayette consisted of the Fabacher brothers, Francis "Red" on guitar and Joseph accompanying, along with Leon "Crip" Credeur on vocals and fiddle.   As shown in an early test pressing, Decca had originally attempted to call it "Jole Le Blon" however, for unknown reasons, the title was changed.   It was most likely an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the melody and Decca made sure the name wouldn't cause any issues.   

Pretty brunette, yeah you know,

I do not deserve this you've done to me,
And me, I know you have cried,
Before long, what's been done to me.

Pretty sweetheart, I know,
You will regret when you're not doing so well,
Well, you did that not long ago,
Do not do this to your poor old man, oh my.


While the group wasn't well known, their short recording session added to the Cajun music repertoire of the late 1930s.  By 1946, Harry Choates would propel the song into the American culture. 










  1. Lyrics by Jordy A


Find: 

Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Cajun Boogie" - Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc

Having worked on a radio station show, Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc was intimately keen on the changes of the music in the region.  During the mid 1940s, after the war, blues-influenced rockabilly became more prominent and he would have been on of the first to be exposed to it.   Here, this is one of the earliest bluesy rock tunes to come from the south Louisiana prairies.  It's clearly influenced by the sounds coming out of neighboring New Orleans and radio stations throughout the country.  

Listening carefully, one can enjoy the smooth rockabilly playing by Francis "Red Fabacher on lead guitar and a upbeat fiddle ride by Andrus "Uncle Ambrose" Thibodeaux.  The band rounded out with Jimmy Gardiner on rhythm guitar, Giles ‘Candy Man” Castillo on steel guitar and Buel Hoffpauir on drums. 
Happy Fats, Bradley Stutes, Papa Cairo,
Andrus "Uncle Ambrose" Thibodeaux, 

Joseph "Pee Wee" Broussard

1946 seemed to be the end of an era and beginning of a new one.  "Cajun Boogie" (#20-2200) on Victor was one of the last Cajun string band recordings by a major record label.  Not long afterwards, RCA Victor would abandon all things related to Cajun music, probably due to lack of sales nation wide.    Independent labels were taking off.  Happy would have to look at other outlets, which he did, with J.D. Miller's new independent label called "Fais Do Do" records.
Rayne Tribune
Mar 7, 1947

By December of 1947, King records released Moon Mullican's "Jole Blon Is Gone, Amen", closing an end to the era.  The only exceptions were 2 moderately sized labels. DeLuxe Records of New Jersey arrived in Sulphur around 1949 and briefly recorded a slew of songs by Happy Fats, the Hackberry Ramblers, Joe Manuel and Johnny Billiot.  Modern Records of California had latched onto Chuck Guillory and Papa Cairo around the same time.  Cajun music releases were firmly in the hands of the indie labels. 

It didn't seemed that any major national label gave any attention to the resurgence of Cajun-inspired music until suddenly, in 1952, Columbia Records released Vin Bruce's "Dans La Louisianne".  That year, a wave of Cajun-country influenced songs flooded the airwaves including Okeh's release of Link Davis' "Big Mamou" and MGM's release of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya".



Find:
HAPPY FATS & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (BACM, 2009)
Leroy Happy Fats LeBlanc: & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (Master Classics, 2013)

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Happy One Step" - Sady Courville & Dennis McGee

The Louisiana twin fiddling of Dennis McGee with Sady Courville, and later, Ernest Fruge is one of the great treasures of southern fiddling, past and present.  Dennis had a long musical career, with a repertoire extending back into the nineteenth century.  His local fame led him to start playing with accordionist Amede Ardoin, at a time when crossing racial lines was unusual.  Eventually, he would be invited to record for several labels, including this 1929 session for Vocalion in New Orleans which produced "Happy One Step" (#5315).

Author Blair Kilpatrick states:
The Happy One Step is beautiful--so spare and haunting--played simply on the fiddle.  There are no words to the Happy One Step, although the title suggests it is a cheerful song.1  
McGee played with such Cajun artists as Amede Ardoin, Joe Falcon and Amede Breaux when the music was first being recorded in the late 1920s. He performed on the radio show "Prairie Home Companion" and often played at festivals.2  A National Heritage Award winner, Dennis McGee continued to be a favorite at
festivals and house parties until his death in 1989 at ninety-six.3   


Dennis McGee & Sady Courville
Image courtesy of Johnnie Allan & the 
Center for Louisiana Studies, 
University of Louisiana at Lafayette






  1. Accordion Dreams: A Journey Into Cajun and Creole Music By Blair Kilpatrick
  2. The New Amberola Graphic, Volumes 67-82
  3. J'ai Ete Au Bal Vol. 1.  ARhoolie CD 331.  Liner notes.

Find:
The Early Recordings Of Dennis McGee: Featuring Sady Courville & Ernest Fruge (Morning Star, 1977)
The Complete Early Recordings of Dennis McGee (Yazoo, 1994)
Les Cajuns Best Of 2002 Les Triomphes De La Country Volume 12 (Habana, 2002)

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Valse De Beaumont" - Singing Frenchman

With the success of licensing the re-release of Harry Choates' Jole Blon, the New Jersey label DeLuxe found themselves curious about future of Cajun music and the possibilities it had for it's struggling label.   On a tour of the area, company A&R scout Joe Lieberwitz discovered the Hackberry Ramblers, Happy Fats and a relatively unknown Texan billed as the "Singing Frenchman".1   

Named Johnny William “J. W.” Billiot, he and his wife Bessie "Grace" lived in the Beaumont area.  Born in Hamshire, Texas, he and his father moved to Louisiana for about a year where Johnny attended school.  He had a “larger than life” personality, and is described by relatives as a showman who loved the music and had a lot of rhythm in his music. He played the fiddle and piano in addition to the accordion. His nephew Joseph recalls, 
“He bought an accordion at a hock shop on Pearl (Street) in downtown Beaumont. He and my father (Antone) added another leaf (bellow) where he could pull it out real far. They did this to all his accordions.”1 


Hé, petite, moi j'connais, chère,
J’ai parti de la belle pour m’en (aller) à grand Texas.

Hé, chère, j’ai pleuré, petite,
(Qui) t’as fait à ton vieux nègre, c’est pas longtemps.

Hé, petite, j'ai parti, chère,
Parti de la belle pour m’en (aller) à grand Texas.
The Singing Frenchman
Johnny Billiot, George Jones (behind),
Billy Rayon, Bill Guillory

After the oil economy boomed in the 1930s, Beaumont was a hotbed of Cajun influence and activity.  So many of the Cajuns have settled in the southeastern corner of Texas known as the "Golden Triangle" of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange that the area has been referred to as the "Lapland", where Cajun culture overlaps into Texas.2  As lead accordionist and vocalist, Johnny assembled a group with his wife Grace on backup vocals, Bill Guillory on fiddle, Billy Rayon on guitar, Nick Guidry on fiddle, Lloyd Gilbert on guitar and Bill Guidry on guitar.  By 1949, the group occasionally found themselves playing gigs further east in Sulphur.  Once, a radio show announcer, Joe Trum of KTRM, discovered his talents. It's believed he contacted DeLuxe records executive Joe Lieberwitz for this recording session.1  There, his band recorded "Valse de Beaumont" (#6045) as an ode to the town he was living in.



Hey, little girl, I know, dear,
I have left the beautiful one to go to big Texas.

Hey, dear, I've cried, little one,
Who, you've done this to your old man, it wasn't long ago.

Hey, little one, I've left, dear,
Left the beautiful one to go to big Texas.





  1. Cajun Dancehall Heyday by Ron Yule
  2. http://texasalmanac.com/topics/culture/cajun-texans
  3. Lyrics by Jordy A

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Choupique Two Step" - Nathan Abshire

Nathan Abshire was the first in the family of six children.  His parents, also musicians, played accordion, and two of his brothers, known to have been top-notch accordion players, gave it up when still young.3  Abshire was especially taken with the spirited playing and singing of Creole accordionist and singer Amede Ardoin, and Ardoin often invited Abshire to play with him.2  
“Every Saturday we used to go to John Foreman’s saloon. I’d see Amédé Ardoin coming down the way. He’d say, ‘Abshire, you’ve got to help me tonight.’ I’d say. ‘Amédé, I can’t help you.’ ‘Oh yeah,’ he’d say, ‘We’re both going to play. I’ll play for awhile, you play for awhile.’ I’d say, ‘I don’t feel much like going Amédé.’ But I’d go and we’d sure make some music. As far as that goes, we made some great music.”2


Oh, jolie parti, c'es partie à Choupique,

C'es parti, jolie catin, 

Pour voir des belles 'tit blondes.



Aye! C'es Choupique!



Oh, jolie catin, jolie sa m'fais du mal.

Oui, ces drole qui tu m’a dit,

Jolie, sa m'fais du mal.



Oh, jolie catin, jolie tu m'fais du mal,

M'fais du mal, catin du mal,
J'vas pleurer pour toi.



Nathan Abshire
by Todd Kruse
http://pictify.saatchigallery.com/user/tjkruse

The choupique (pronounced "shoe pick") is a trash fish, known outside Louisiana as the bowfin, which isn't eaten much but can be found plentiful around Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. Choupique is also the name of a rural community north of Eunice, Louisiana, not far from a small stream called "La Coulée Choupique".

George Khoury, the owner of Lyric label, recorded Nathan's "Choupique Two Step" (#610) in 1951 but chose not to co-release it on his Khoury's label.  The band consisted of his typical lineup of Nathan on accordion and vocals, Will Kegley on fiddle, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Jim Baker on bass, Ozide Kegley on drums. It could very well be a version of Happy Fats' "Les Fille De St. Martin" that Nathan had remembered from their first session together 16 years earlier.   All of these are based on Amede Ardoin's "Amede Two Step".
Church Point News
Dec 12, 1961



Oh, my pretty went away, went away to Choupique,

She left me, my pretty doll,

Going to go see the pretty little blondes.



Aye! Choupique!



Oh, my pretty doll, pretty, you hurt me,

Yes, it's odd what you said,

Pretty, you hurt me.



Oh, my pretty doll, pretty, you hurt me,

You hurt me, my doll, it hurts,
I'm going to cry over you.







  1. Louisiana Music, Vol. 1 by Lyle Ferbache
  2. http://www.offbeat.com/articles/masters-of-louisiana-music-nathan-abshire/
  3. Pine Grove Blues: Swallow LP 6014. Liner notes.
  4. Lyrics by Jerry M
Find:
Nathan Abshire & the Pine Grove Boys - French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Valse De La Louisianne" - Angelas Lejeune

Angelas Lejeune became one of the unsung heros of Cajun music who helped propel Dennis McGee into the fiddle-playing limelight.   Growing up around Pointe Noire, Louisiana, he, Dennis and Ernest Fruge teamed up to play as a trio around south Louisiana.  During one of his sessions in New Orleans for Brunswick records, he recorded the tune "Valse De La Louisianne".

According to Neal Pomea: 

One listening to the Vieille Valse de la Louisiane, especially the bridge or "turn," will show what a powerful player he was. Brilliant! 1


Ohh, p’tit bébé, viens-toi-z-avec ton pop, ouais, dans la Louisiane.



Ohh, quittes ta mom pour t’en venir avec ton pop pour finir tous nos jours.

Ohh, gardez-donc comment ton pauvre papan est tout le temps dans les douleurs.

Ohh, quittes ton pop et ta mom pour t’en venir avec ton neg dans la Louisiane.

Ohh, jongle bien, tu vas avoir les misères que je passe pour, malheureuse.
Angelas Lejeune

Like many musicians living in south Louisiana, he was a fan of playing music for family. His music was remembered and enjoyed by those that remembered him.  According to neighbor and friend Debi Morain:
How well I remember him playing...he always joined us on Christmas Eve and played for our gatherings.  When I'd visit, he'd always play and sing for us, sitting outside on his porch.  His wife was a 'traiteuse' and treated us for sun and heat strokes.  What wonderful memories I have of them and, of course, his music!
According to his niece Candance McIntyre:

How I loved his music and his singing and the "get-togethers" we all had as a family. His wife aunt Doris was such a sweet lady and she and my grandmother were the greatest of friends.  We would have old time home dancers and that is where I learned to dance and how I love to dance. Listening to this music brings back such warm memories.

Oh, little baby, come with your pop, yeh, to Louisiana.



Oh, leave your mom to come with your pop forever.

Oh, so look at that, how your poor papas always in great sorrow.

Oh, leave your pop and your mom, you come with your man to Louisiana.

Oh, remember well, you'll have the same misery which I passed (lived through), oh my.
According to Cajun musician and accordion builder, Bryan Lafleur, he states:

It's an early version of "Cajun Waltz". I especially love the way he does the turn, which I haven't heard anyone do like him except Michael Doucet in his recording called "Angelas' Waltz", which seemed to be a fiddle copy of Angelas' song.2 





  1. http://npmusic.org/artists.html
  2. Discussions with Bryan L
  3. Lyrics by Jordy A and Stephane F
Find:
Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Si Vous Moi Voudrez Ame (If You'd Only Love Me)" - Leo Soileau

Leo Soileau was one of the first Cajuns to incorporate elements of commercial country music into Cajun music.2  Formed in 1934, Leo Soileau's Three Aces--although there were never less than four musicians--soon shot to the forefront of this embryo "Cajun country" movement.  Apart from the Cajun tradition, their major inspiration came from western swing, a cheerful, spirited amalgam of swing, blues, ragtime, and fiddle music that originated in Texas.1  

Tu m’as dit, jolie fille, tu p’us, mais chère,

Tu pouvais pas p’us m’aimer, chère,

Pourquoi donc, mais tu fais ça à ton vieux neg, chérie?

Tu vas me faire (mourir??), jolie.

Tu m’as dit jolie fille, tu pouvais p’us m’aimer,
Toi, maman, quoi faire t’as fait ça, chérie?

Tu m’as dit, jolie fille, pourquoi-donc, chérie,
Tu fais ça avec ton neg, chérie,
Tu m’as dit, joli cœur, que tu peux p’us m’aimer, chère.

Ohh, toi, ‘tit monde, jolie fille, criminelle,
Haa, toi ‘tite fille, ohhh, bébé.
Rayne Tribune
Dec 10, 1937

He learned to play fiddle from his father at around the age of 12 and was inspired by other local Cajun musicians such as Dennis McGee.3   
I'd steal his fiddle from under the bed and when I'd break a string, I'd get a whipping.  That's for sure!3

In early 1935, Soileau's string band, without an accordionist, but with the first drummer to play on Cajun sessions, made popular recordings such as "Si Vous Moi Voudrez Ame (If You'd Only Love Me)" (#4880 & #2194) which Bluebird co-issued on Montgomery Ward's label.  His Three Aces were composed of Floyd Shreve on guitar, Bill (Dewey) Landry on guitar, and Tony Gonzales on drums.  The smooth, rhythmic music was in sharp contrast to the raw folk sound of Joseph Falcon's performances.   However, "Voudrez" was eclipsed by the more popular tune on the flipside, "Le Gran Mamou". 






You told me, pretty girl, you could, well dear,

You couldn't love me anymore, dear,

Why then, well, did you do that to your old man, darling?

You are going to make me an old man, dear.

You told me pretty girl, you could love me,
You, little momma, why did you do that, darling?

You told me, pretty girl, why so, darling?
You did that to your man, darling,
You tole me, pretty sweetheart, that you could love me, dear.

Oh, you little everything, pretty girl, it's terrible,
Ha, you little girl, oh baby.
Leo Soileau and the Three Aces
Floyd Shreve, Tony Gonzales, 
Leo Soileau, and Dewey Landry

By  late 1935, he renamed his band to the Four Aces and signed with Decca, which had already signed Joseph Falcon and Amade Ardoin.  Working with a completely different company, many unaware of his previous recordings, he used the opportunity with Deccas to re-record the song in 1937.   His swinging tune became more well known as "La Blues de Port Arthur".  









  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. The Encyclopedia of Country Music
  3. http://arhoolie.org/leo-soileau-interview/
  4. Lyrics by Jordy A
Find:
Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology 1928 - 1941 (The Historic Victor-Bluebird Sessions Vol. 2) (CMF, 1993)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Pauvre Hobo" - Hackberry Ramblers

The Hackberry Ramblers had sustained a successful Cajun music career between 1935 and 1939.  In 1940, they disbanded when some musicians were drafted for World War II. Fiddle player, Luderin Darbone, reorganized; bringing back Edwin Duhon and adding Eddie Shuler.  During that time, the group was looking for a steady place to play.   A year after World War II ended in 1945, Leo Soileau moved from the Silver Star Club in Lake Charles to begin a regular stand at the Showboat in Orange, Texas. The Hackberry Ramblers replaced him and played every Saturday night at the Silver Star for 10 years.  In addition, the band added Chink Widcamp on bass.

Fais pitie t'voir, mais, comme un pauvre hobo,

(Plus) de soulier, (plus) d’argent, mais, ça sa fait pitie,



Eh, catin.


J'ai parti pour Texas, mais, comme un pauvre enfant,
Par rapporte à la belle, mais, si moi, j'suis comme ça, chere.

Oui, oui.


Lake Charles American Press
Jul 11, 1947

They were always traveling, like poor hobos.  In one instance, they quickly raced to a recording session to lay down several tunes, including an old Breaux Brother's recording called "Les Tracas Du Hobo Blues".  In a way, the song exhibited the bands essence.  In 1947, Luderin was contacted by Joseph Leibowitz of Deluxe records where they were requested to record over two hours away in New Orleans.  Luderin Darbone recalls the DeLuxe encounter:
One day I was at work, and I got a long distance call from St. Louis, Missouri. It was this fellow with the DeLuxe. He wanted to know if he could come down and listen to us play. I said "Sure". I told him where we were playing. Sure enough, that next night before we started the dance, I went into Lake Charles at the Majestic Hotel, that's where we were to meet.1  
He was in Linden, New Jersey.  He called me and said for me to be in New Orleans on Sunday with the band. We played the dance Friday night. I worked Saturday. We played Saturday night. We left after the dance, went to New Orleans. We didn't sleep.  We started recording about 2:30. We recorded to 11:30 that night. We left and had to be back to go to work the next morning. I slept 30 minutes in all that time. I don't know if I could still do that.1 


You're pitiful to look at, well, like a poor hobo,

No more shoes, no more money, well, that's pitiful. 



Eh, little doll.


I have left for Texas, well, like a poor child,
(It's) because of the pretty girl, well, if I'm like that, dear.

Yeh, yeh. 


Edwin Duhon and Luderin Darbone
During this session, the group recorded the song which Harry Choates had just popularized for Gold Star records that year, called "Pauvre Hobo" (#5037).  Sung by guitarist Lennis Sonnier, he was backed by Luderin's fiddle, Grover Heard's lead guitar, and Lefty Boggs' drums.  Many of these recordings were co-released on their 6000 series.   DeLuxe hadn't prepared for this field recording. The recording levels were too low. Since they were in discussions with plans to be merged with King records, little was done to market or give much consideration to the recording.  Darbone wrote a letter, complaining it wasn't near the sound compared to Harry Choates, but to no avail.1 






  1. http://arhoolie.org/hackberry-ramblers/
  2. "Hackberry Ramblers Making music since 1933". DON KINGERY. American Press, Friday, September 24, 2004
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F and Jordy A