Friday, May 4, 2018

"Fa-De-Do Stomp" - Harry Choates

Gold Star records was the creation by a record producer named Bill Quinn.  Bill got his start partnering up with Orville "Bennie" Hess and Frank Sanborn with their very first label named 'Gulf'.  However, after Frank left the team and Hess started his own label named Opera, Bill ventured out on his own. Quinn's methods were nothing near professional.  His make-shift setup was always causing issues.  According to Clyde Brewer:
It used to be an old grocery store.  Quinn really didn't have a company then, but he had a studio. We recorded some that afternoon, but when we came back the next morning, a cold norther had blown in. And there was no heat in this building.  His turntable would run about 78 RPM, then it would go about 33, then about 20.  So, he went out to his car and got a blowtorch, fired it up, and held it close to that motor until he could get the speed fixed.   And then we recorded a few more things.1  

Many of the recordings Quinn had lined up never materialized, mainly due to rugged, poor maintained equipment.  Occasionally, one of a kind master discs were destroyed or damaged in the processing tanks, casualties of Quinn's ongoing experiments.   According to Deacon Anderson:
Quinn had an old Rek-O-Kut belt driven turntable.  His overhead lathe was Presto.  Every now and then, the arm would slip and ruin the record.1  
Crowley Daily Signal
Aug 17, 1948

By 1946, Quinn discovered a lowly Cajun fiddle player named Harry Choates and the two kicked off a slew of session for his Gold Star label. Harry's band was backed by himself on fiddle, Esmond Pursley on guitar, Joe Manuel on banjo, Pee Wee Lyons on steel guitar, B.D. Williams on bass, Curzy Roy on drums, and Johnnie Manuel on piano.  The following year, Harry and Quinn were working close together, waxing a tune called "Fa De Do Stomp" (#1326) when Quinn discovered Harry was secretly recording for Jimmy Mercer's Cajun Classics outside of his contract.  This was the beginning of the end of Harry and Bill's relationship. Drummer Curzy Roy remembers a session for Decca in Houston that was about to commence when Quinn suddenly appeared, bringing things to a sudden halt.1  

Curzy "Pork Chop" Roy

"Fa De Do Stomp", a misspelled title of Fais Do-Do Stomp, was a swingy instrumental of a 1937 string band recording by J.B. Fuselier called "Lake Arthur Stomp". Cursy Roy loved playing with Harry:
I like him, but Choates was kind of a lowlife...some nights we'd play, Harry would get so drunk, he'd rock.   Like he was gonna fall forwards or backwards.  But he'd never miss a lick.  On that fiddle, ...never ever hit a bad chord.1  

Having no concern with his Gold Star contract, Harry began recording for Macy Henry's new label and with the break-up of Harry's original Melody Boys band, the two partners parted ways. 

  1. "Devil in Bayou".  Andrew Brown. liner notes.

Release Info:
1326A Cajun Hop | Gold Star 1326-A  Modern 20-526
1326B Fa-De-Do Stomp | Gold Star 1326-B Modern 20-530

Harry Choates ‎– The Fiddle King Of Cajun Swing (Arhoolie, 1982, 1993)
Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings (Bear Family, 2002)

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