Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Bayou Chico Waltz" - Wilson Granger

Wilson Granger was a fiddling figure who experienced all the many twists and turn in Cajun music.  Basically, he was a sideman who kept the music going and played on some of the most influential recordings in post-war Cajun music.   Nathan rarely sang many of his own tunes, leaving it to other such as Ernest Thibodeaux and Wilson.   Eventually, Nathan let these fine musicians take the lead on a few recordings, including this one called "Bayou Chico Waltz".1

In the late 1920s, Wilson and Sidney Credeur began playing house dances around Black Bayou and Goosport.  By the 1940s, Sidney quit and gave Wilson his fiddle, so Granger struck out on his own to play music in the Lake Charles area.  Good friends with Earl Demary, Wilson teamed up with his group led by Nathan Abshire for the famous "Pine Grove Blues" recording for Virgil Bozman's OT label.1   During this time frame, around 1949, Bozman had a recording of Wilson leading the "Bayou Chico Waltz" with Nathan's same band members.  

Having recorded with Nathan's band as backup, the lack of accordion is barely noticeable because the sound is so typical of the Pine Grove Boys at their best.  According to researcher David Sax:
There is a live performance atmosphere, with Atlas Fruge up front as Bozman pressed the button and left them to it.5  
But, it seems Virgil shoved it away for the time being.  Most likely, he brought it with him to Bob Tanner's facility in San Antonio and had it pressed on his short lived Hot Rod records in 1953. 

Hé 'tite fille, z'aujourd'hui, 

T'aprés me quitter pour t'en aller dans la Louisiane,

Tous les passe de temps, comme ca laisser les enfants,

Pour courtiser, mais malheureuse, t'quitter, tit monde. 

Hé, 'tite fille, moi, j'm'en vas, 

Mais (z)aujourd'hui, mais, mon tout seul à Bayou Chicot,

Quand même tu veux mais t'en revenir rejoindre ton nègre, 

Mais malheureuse, mais, pour longtemps, c'est trop (tard) 'joindre.
Wilson Granger

Bayou Chicot is a piney wooded community in north Evangeline parish named after a small stream.  The land was settled by a Coushatta Indian family.   The name "Chicot", a 16th century French word meaning "stump", can be found in a variety of places in old colonial documents, including Chicot de Cipre ("cypress stumps") and "Prairie des Chicots" ("prairie of tree stumps").2   According to author Jacqueline Peterson, "chicot" was already used for the French coureurs de bois as early as the seventeenth century, when the settlers would strip land of its timber and then abandon the land, leaving "chicots".3,4 

Hey little girl, today,

You left me to go away to Louisiana,

After all this time, just like that, (you) left the children,

To worry, well oh my, you left us, my little everything.

Hey, little girl, I, myself, am going,

Well, today, well, I'm all alone at Bayou Chicot,

Even if you want to go back to your old man,

Well, oh my, well, such a long time, it's too late to come back. 

Aurally from Wilson would go onto record with Iry for a short while; teaching him the melody of this song.  Iry made some minor changes and with Wilson backing him up, they converted it into the well-known "Duraldo Waltz".  But Wilson didn't stay and left the band shortly afterwards.   Granger kept his television repair business going and continued to play music for years afterwards.1

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule, Bill Burge
  2. Louisiana Place Names: Popular, Unusual, and Forgotten Stories of Towns ... By Clare D'Artois Leeper
  3. A Language of Our Own: The Genesis of Michif, the Mixed Cree-French Language ... By Peter Bakker
  4. Prelude to Red River: A Social Portrait of the Great Lakes Metis by Jacqueline Peterson
  5. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2.  Liner notes. 
  6. Lyrics by Stephane F
Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)

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