Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"La Valse De Gueydan" - Leo Soileau

Old melodies such as "Jolie Blonde" were popular tunes that Cajuns picked up and learned during the turn of the century.   Melodies such as this one found it's way into pockets of isolated populations where unique names were given to the songs.  Leo Soileau's group took the original Breaux recording of "Ma Blonde Est Partie" and changed it slightly, giving it a new name, "Le Valse De Gueydan" (#2086). After the Hackberry Ramblers recorded the same tune in the same swing style as "Jolie Blonde", many musicians would later simply refer to Leo's version as "Jolie Blonde" as well.

In 1935 in New Orleans, Leo Soileau had his Three Aces group record the tune on Bluebird records under the watchful eye of Eli Oberstein.  The song was an ode to the small Cajun town of Gueydan.  While his Three Aces were fairly constant, occasionally Leo had other members record with him as well.   According to Happy Fats, Tony Gonzales was on drums and Bill Landry or Floyd Shreve was on guitar.  However, Preston Manuel recalls Sam Baker on drums and Jerry Baker on guitar.

Eh, jolie, moi je m'en vas dans grand Gueydan,

C'est pour voir, ma jolie petite fille,

Jolie coeur, je vu pas faire.



Eh, jolie, pourqoui donc mais tu fait ca,

Avec ton vieux neg, jolie petite fille,
Pourquoi donc mais tu fais ca avec ton neg?

Elle etait dans les miseres,
Mais, jolie fille, pourquoi donc,
Tu fait ca avec ton nieux neg,
Et jamais j'avais cru quoi j'ai vu.

Eh ma fille, jolie fille.
Leo Soileau and the Three Aces
Floyd Shreve, Tony Gonzales, Leo Soileau, and Dewey Landry 5

Not to be confused with John Bertrand and Milton Pitre's recording of "Valse de Gueydan" or Amede Ardoin's "La Valse de Gueydan", it's the version of the melody in which most believe influenced Harry's famous 1946 recording of "Jole Blon".  After his father's death, around the late 30s, Choates joined Soileau's group on guitar and second fiddle for Leo's Aces with Joe and Abe Manuel, and Francis “Red” Fabacher. A great innovator in Cajun music, Soileau mentored Choates, who learned many of Soileau's stage tricks.   During Harry's time with Soileau's group, he was exposed to their song "La Valse De Gueydan".  


According to Happy Fats:
Harry had first performed the tune in Soileau's band but on his Gold Star recording he stepped up the key from G to A.  

Eh, pretty, I am going to big Gueydan,

It's to see my pretty little girl,

Pretty sweetheart, I can't see you.



Eh, pretty, why have you done that,

To your old man, pretty little girl,
Why have you done that to your man?

She was in misery,
Well, pretty girl, why have,
You done this to your old man,
And I never thought I'd see that.

Eh, my girl, pretty girl. 
The Three Aces' efforts were well received in the Cajun community.  Their version of the popular waltz was an instant success that prompted Bluebird to issue the record twice in their 2000 Cajun series.4







  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2 By Steve Sullivan
  3. Label scan by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Cajun and Creole Music Collection - Special Collections
  4. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  5. Country Music Originals : The Legends and the Lost: The Legends and the Lost By Tony Russell
Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 3: The String Bands Of The 1930s (Old Timey/Arhoolie, 1971)
Jole Blon - 23 Artists One Theme (Bear, 2002)
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
The Beginner's Guide to Cajun Music (Proper/Primo, 2008)

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