Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"Alberta" - Walker Brothers

By 1935, small acoustic accordion-based ensembles began to give way to more substantial string-based orchestras.  Lawrence Walker and Nathan Abshire, a pair of experimental accordionists who would become two of the leading proponents of the pot-WWII dancehall sound, recorded the clearest example of the shift to Cajun swing on the Bluebird record label.3  

In 1935, Lawrence recorded his version of the song "Corina, Corina", in English, in honor of his daughter Alberta.   Originally a Leadbelly song called "Roberta", it was also covered by the Mississippi Sheiks.  Lawrence joined his brother Elton Walker on violin, with  probably Junior Broussard on guitar, and possibly Aldus Broussard or Norris Mire on guitar.  According to producer Chris Strachwitz:


It is well known among jazz musicians in New Orleans.  I think it is a jazz tune with a Cajun accent.   This belongs to both black and white tradition in the South and was first popularized on record by the Mississippi Sheiks in the late 1920s.  Perhaps it was a popular tune long before then.  The accordion on this performance seems to show strong [Creole] Cajun influence and I think Lawrence Walker probably learned it from a [Creole] Cajun performer.1
"Corina" was a "blues with a touch of jazz and a flavor of hillbilly" that by the 1930s was widely popular among blues and hillbilly artists, who also recorded the arrangement under the titles "Alberta" and "Roberta". The tune later became a fixture in the Western swing repertoire largely through the popularity of Bob Wills.3   Author Ryan Brasseaux writes:
In essence, "Alberta" can be equated with the Breaux family composition "Ma Blonde Est Parti" because both tunes describe an inconsolable man lamenting about the impenetrable boundaries that separate the protagonist from his belle.3


Alberta, Alberta, where have you been so long,
Alberta, Alberta, where have you been so long,
I ain't had no lovin', since you've been gone.

I met Alberta, way across the pond,
I met Alberta, way across the pond,
Didn't write me no letters, you didn't care for me.

Alberta, Alberta, tell the world "Adieu",
Alberta, Alberta, tell the world "Adieu",
Just a little bit of lovin', let your heart be true.

Alberta, Alberta, where have you been so long,
Alberta, Alberta, where have you been so long,
I ain't had no lovin', since you've been gone.

Lawrence Walker transformed the Cajun accordion style by adding strong elements of swing to his playing. This transformation is revealed in this Bluebird recording.  Even so much that James Hancock (a Joe Davis pseudonym) had taken out a copyright to what he called Lawrence's "Alberta Blues".2




  1. Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 2 The Early 30s.  Chris Strachwitz.  Liner notes.
  2. The Melody Man: Joe Davis and the New York Music Scene, 1916-1978 By Bruce Bastin
  3. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  4. Lyrics by Jerry M

Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 2: The Early 30s (Old Timey/Arhoolie, 1971)
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
I Saw The Light (Blues People 1934 -1935) (Blues Classics, 2015)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.