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 

  2. "Hackberry Ramblers Making music since 1933". DON KINGERY. American Press, Friday, September 24, 2004
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F and Jordy A

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