Tuesday, April 3, 2018

"La Valse Da Courage" - Elise Deshotel

During World War II, a 16-year-old Dewey Balfa left home to work in a Texas shipyard followed by a stint in the Merchant Marines. He maintained his chops with Texas swing, containing a heavy swing influence, and maybe it was here, being away from home where he felt the missing connection with his cultural music. In 1948, he returned to Louisiana and formed the Musical Brothers, a popular string dance band, with brothers Harry, Will and Rodney. By then Dewey had blossomed into a virtuoso with his accurate, flowing style and was often requested to gig with other musicians.1 

Ton papa et ta maman m’a toujours dit, chère,

Pas te quitte, ouais, notre amour d'être gouverné,

Quoi faire donc, ‘tit monde, t’après faire ça, chère, 

Tu connais je mérite pas tous ces misères.

Quoi faire donc, ‘tit monde, toi, tu fais ça, chère,

T’après m'quitter, mon tout seul dans les misères,

Tu connais, ‘tite fille, avant longtemps, chère, 

Tu voudras t’en revenir, découragé.

Atlas Fruge, Will Kegley, Nathan Abshire, 
Cleveland "Cat" Deshotel, Elise Deshotel

During this early period, Dewey met musician Elise Deshotel.   Elise Deshotel and fellow accordion player, Maurice Barzas, teamed up with the young fiddle player named Dewey Balfa in a makeshift recording studio in Opelousas.   One the Dewey's earliest releases with Elise Deshotel, "La Valse De Courage", (#619), recorded in 1951 was Dewey's take on the well-known 1928 Joe and Cleoma Falcon tune "Waltz That Carried Me To My Grave".  The tune manifests itself in other original forms such as Bixy Guidry's "La Valse Du Bayou" and the Breaux Brothers "La Valse des Pins".  It has a melody that seems to borrow from Nathan's "La Valse de Bayou Teche" but steers itself in a slightly different direction.  Meant to be "La Valse Découragée", it tells of a love interest who has left, leaving the lover discouraged.  The recording had Dewey's brother Rodney Balfa on guitar, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, and Ester Deshotel on drums.  In 1953, Iry borrowed Cleoma's tune for his better known "La Valse de Grand Chemin".

Your dad and your mom always told me, dear,

Don't you let, yeah, our love be controlled,

Why did you do, my little everything, all that you've done, dear,

You know I do not deserve all of this misery.

Why did you do, my little everything, what you have done, dear,

You have left me, all alone in misery,

You know, little girl, before long, dear,

You'll want to come back, discouraged

In the ’50s, Dewey’s notoriety was reaching new heights. Around the same time, he began his lifetime association with Nathan Abshire, the jovial, soulful accordionist who rightfully has his own place in the annals of Cajun music. But just as music was making a come back, the Balfas considered it be a celebratory past-time, not taken seriously as a profession. In order to support a growing family, at various times Dewey worked as a farmer, an insurance salesman, a school bus driver, a disc jockey and a furniture store owner.1  It wouldn't be until the 1960s when Dewey would try to revitalize his recording career with Floyd Soileau. 

  1. http://www.offbeat.com/articles/masters-of-louisiana-music-dewey-balfa/
  2. Discussions with Lyle F.
  3. Lyrics by Jordy A
Release Info:
A Two Step de Avalon KH-619-A Khoury's
B La Valse de Courage KH-619-B Khoury's

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)


  1. Some questions about this recording... Who is the singer? What instrument does Elise Deshotel play? Thanks

    1. Dewey on vocals. Elise Deshotel believed to be on rhythm guitar.


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