Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Cajun Boogie" - Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc

Having worked on a radio station show, Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc was intimately keen on the changes of the music in the region.  During the mid 1940s, after the war, blues-influenced rockabilly became more prominent and he would have been on of the first to be exposed to it.   Here, this is one of the earliest bluesy rock tunes to come from the south Louisiana prairies.  It's clearly influenced by the sounds coming out of neighboring New Orleans and radio stations throughout the country.  

Listening carefully, one can enjoy the smooth rockabilly playing by Francis "Red Fabacher on lead guitar and a upbeat fiddle ride by Andrus "Uncle Ambrose" Thibodeaux.  The band rounded out with Jimmy Gardiner on rhythm guitar, Giles ‘Candy Man” Castillo on steel guitar and Buel Hoffpauir on drums.   Released in 1947, Billboard magazine writer stated:
It's all hot fiddling and guit'box picking in country style that Happy Fats provides for a fast-spinning Cajun Boogie.  Cajun Boogie will attract attention at the dances in those deep South corners.1 
Happy Fats, Bradley Stutes, Papa Cairo,
Andrus "Uncle Ambrose" Thibodeaux, 

Joseph "Pee Wee" Broussard

1946 seemed to be the end of an era and beginning of a new one.  "Cajun Boogie" (#20-2200) on Victor was one of the last Cajun string band recordings by a major record label.  Not long afterwards, RCA Victor would abandon all things related to Cajun music, probably due to lack of sales nation wide.    Independent labels were taking off.  Happy would have to look at other outlets, which he did, with J.D. Miller's new independent label called "Fais Do Do" records.
Rayne Tribune
Mar 7, 1947

By December of 1947, King records released Moon Mullican's "Jole Blon Is Gone, Amen", closing an end to the era.  The only exceptions were 2 moderately sized labels. DeLuxe Records of New Jersey arrived in Sulphur around 1949 and briefly recorded a slew of songs by Happy Fats, the Hackberry Ramblers, Joe Manuel and Johnny Billiot.  Modern Records of California had latched onto Chuck Guillory and Papa Cairo around the same time.  Cajun music releases were firmly in the hands of the indie labels. 
Apr 5 1947

It didn't seemed that any major national label gave any attention to the resurgence of Cajun-inspired music until suddenly, in 1952, Columbia Records released Vin Bruce's "Dans La Louisianne".  That year, a wave of Cajun-country influenced songs flooded the airwaves including Okeh's release of Link Davis' "Big Mamou" and MGM's release of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya".

  1. Billboard Magazine. May 17, 1947

HAPPY FATS & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (BACM, 2009)
Leroy Happy Fats LeBlanc: & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (Master Classics, 2013)

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