Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"A Cowboy Rider" - Joe Falcon

In 1929, the Cajun musician duo, Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux, followed up their debut session with a second appearance for Columbia.  The couple recorded several other arrangements, including another anglicized tune titled "A Cowboy Rider" (#40502), a song that spoke to south Louisiana's deeply rooted ranching traditions.1

Cattle ranching was one of the earliest economic industries during the early 19th century.   Spanish cattle drivers would routinely cross over the Old Spanish Trail, moving their livestock between San Antonio and New Orleans, through towns like Opelousas, Crowley and Lake Charles.  The trail began near Liberty, Texas, and followed Indian paths to various parts of Louisiana, including the towns of Opelousas, Alexandria, Natchitoches, and New Orleans.  From New Orleans, the cattle could be shipped to northern markets by boat.3  Historian W. T. Block, however, describes the Opelousas Trail as following the Old Spanish Trail, or La Bahia Road, from New Orleans through Opelousas, crossing the Sabine River near Beaumont, to San Antonio, essentially following the present Interstate Highway 10.2  According to 19th century historian William Darby:
Lake Charles American Press
Sep 2, 1947

The prairie Mamou is devoted by the present inhabitants to the rearing of cattle, some of the largest herds in Opelousas are within its precincts. Three rich stockholders have, as if by consent, settled their vacheries in three distinct prairies. Mr. Wikoff, in the Calcasieu prairie, west of the Nezpique, Mr. Fontenot in prairie Mamou; and Mr. Andrus in Opelousas prairie. Those three gentlemen must have collectively fifteen or twenty thousand head of near cattle, with several hundred horses and mules. It may be presumed that Mr. Wikoff is at this time the greatest pastoral farmer in the United States.

During the 1950s, the instrumental would be resurrected as "Wandering Aces Special" by Lawrence Walker.

  1. "Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music" by Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. http://www.burketexas.com/transportation/cattletrail.php
  3. https://homesteadontherange.com/2014/12/01/the-roots-of-cattle-driving-part-2/
  4. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Articles_Essays/creole_art_ranching_trad.html


Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Music, The Pretty Girls Don't Want Me (Firefly, 2012)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)

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