Saturday, April 7, 2018

"Redell Breakdown" - J.B. Fuselier

During the 1930s, a tenor banjo player named Beethoven Miller created the band called Miller's Merrymakers and they recorded in New Orleans. After Beethoven left the group, a Cajun fiddle player named Jean Baptiste Fuselier took over as bandleader and changed it's name to J.B. and the Merrymakers.

Live radio broadcasts propelled Fuselier's huge success. His early band, including Miller on drums, Preston Manuel on guitar and Atlas Fruge on steel, would work live radio shows during the day and then play dances at night.1  

The song "Redell Breakdown" was an ode to the small Louisiana town of Redell located north of Mamou.  It familiar similarities with Joe Falcon's "Au Revoir Cherie".  Melodies such as this one would go on to influence Iry Lejeune's "Evangeline Special" in 1947.   After WWII, the band was composed of J.B. on accordion, Manuel on guitar, Norris "T-Boy" Courville on drums, and Elius Soileau on fiddle.1

Quitter toujour, tit fille chere, avec ton neg, aujourd'hui.
Tit monde, m'en aller toujour, jamais te 'joindre, me t'veux encore.

(You're) leaving forever, dear little girl, with your old man, today.
Little everything, I'm leaving forever, never returning to you, yet still want you.

In Sam Tarleton's interview, J.B. states:

When we'd go to New Orleans to make some records, part of the road was gravel, part of the road was dirt.  The last time I went to make records in New Orleans, I had a Model A.  We went in a a Model A; four of us.

  1. The Encyclopedia of Country Music.  Ann Savoy

Cajun String Bands 1930's: Cajun Breakdown
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

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