Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Le Two Step De Villeplatte" - Elise Deshotel

The Deshotels lived near Basile and were involved with many bands and line-ups from that area for their dances.  Elise, his wife Ester, and Cleveland "Cat" Deshotel all played with Nathan Abshire at the Avalon Club.  The Dehotels and his band were like most bands of the era; people came and went depending on work obligations. 

Meanwhile, record producer George Khoury knew how to spot successful Cajun musicians.  After working closely with Nathan Abshire, he gathered one of Nathan's biggest fan bands, led by Elise Deshotel. The two groups worked closely during the early 50s playing in the same dance halls around Evangeline parish, not far from the small town of Ville Platte.  They made their recording debut in 1951 with an instrumental called "Le Two Step de Villeplatte" (#618), which was captured on a home recorder and released as a 78 RPM single.  It featured Dewey Balfa on fiddle, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Elise Deshotel on rhythm guitar and Ester Deshotel on drums.

Elise's wife Ester was more than likely the drummer on some recordings since she played live with them.  Her driving style kept the band's rhythm in tact.  With Ester playing drums with Nathan, she became one of three female drummers for the band.  The other two were Bernella Fruge and Will Kegley's sister, Ozide.  Cat played both bass and fiddle with Nathan until the Swallow-label recordings ended.
Atlas Fruge, Ester Deshotel, Wilson Granger,
Nathan Abshire, Elise Deshotel

In fact, these women join the ranks of the few females playing and singing Cajun music during the 1950s.      People such as Marie Solange Falcon, Theresa Meaux Falcon, Johnnie Ruth Smyrle Manuel, Laura Broussard, Corita Thibodeaux and Yvonne Leblanc highlight the rarity of Cajun women playing music in male-dominated industry.

  1. All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Country Recordings edited by Michael Erlewine
  3. Discussions with Lyle F

Cajun Music - The Early 50s (Arhoolie, 1969/1975)
Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)
Bayou Two-Step - Cajun Hits From Louisiana 1929-1962 (Jasmine, 2015)

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