Monday, May 14, 2018

"Teche Special" - Iry Lejeune

The legendary Iry Lejeune ranks as one of the truly great blind musician/performers.  Iry got his second chance at the recording world in 1947 when he heard about Eddie Shuler's radio show on KPLC in Lake Charles, La. Shuler provided a 15- minute segment daily during which any amateur musician could walk in and play on the air. Iry pitched his French accordion into a flour sack and showed up on Eddie Shuler's doorstep. The young accordion player was a smash hit with the listeners. Unfortunately, the station owner was not a fan of Cajun accordion music and ordered Shuler not to bring Lejeune back on his show.1 Shuler explains:
[Iry] came in and performed on my show, two songs.  When we were walking out of the station after the show was over, the head man of the station, his name was Mr. Wilson, he came out of that back room.  He had a voice like a bellowing bull.  He weighed about 290 pounds.  He said "Eddie Shuler, you S.O.B, what in the hell was that you had on my radio station?" I said "Mr. Wilson, that man said that was Cajun music. I don't know, I have to go along with him. I have never heard anything like it". He said, "If you ever do that again I'm going to throw you right out the front door.  I'm not going to tell you you're through, just kick your effed up self out the front door". I said, "Yes sir".3  

Eh, 'tit monde, comment tu crois, moi, je vas faire,
Tout le temps après, mais, jongler à toi,
Tu devrais quand même chez toi, t'en venir, oui, 'tite monde,
J'aimerais te dire quelque chose, que j'aimerais entendre.

Eh, je devrais, mais, pas oublier tout ça, toi,
Tout ça que, toi, t'etais apres me faire,
Juste par rapport à ta famille, 
Moi, je connais, tite monde, t'es apres me faire du mal.

Moi j'connais, catin, mais, viens donc me rejoindre,
Moi, je voudrais te dire quelque chose, que je peux pas te dire,
Moi, je peux pas t'envoyer te dire, mais, cher 'tit monde, pas jusqu'à, toi,
Tu reviens, oui, me rejoindre, que je te dis toi-même.

R.C. Vanicor, Ernest Fruge, Iry Lejeune,
Alfred "Duckhead" Cormier, Earl Demary,
Ernest's son

Not looking to loose his radio business, he dropped the act.  In the meantime, Shuler had formed a small record company, Goldband Records. He and Lejeune quickly reached a gentleman's agreement that they would record four sides in the middle of the night in the KPLC studios when they were not being used for station purposes. The agreement stated that Shuler would use all of his contacts with other disk jockeys and radio stations throughout Louisiana and Texas to promote and distribute the records produced, and that only if positive financial results could be produced within six months from the initial recording sessions would future recording sessions result.1  During one of those sessions, in 1949, Iry recorded the "Teche Special" (#101) alongside Ellis Vanicor on fiddle, Ivy Vanicor on rhythm guitar, and Orsy "R.C" Vanicor on steel guitar.  

Hey, my little everything, how do you think I'll deal with this,
Always, well, thinking of you,
You should still come home, yeah, my little everything,
I would like to tell you something, that I'd like (you) to hear.

Hey, I shouldn't, well, forget all that you (did),
All that which you did to me,
Just because of your family,
I know, my little everything, you made me sad.

I know, pretty doll, well, come and join me,
I would like to tell you something, that I can't say to you,
I can't send (someone) to tell you, well, dear little everything, not until you,
You come back, yeh, to join me, which I'll tell you, yourself.

Although this song was recorded in 1948, Iry was playing this song as early as 1944.3  His group under this agreement, Iry Lejeune cut 26 sides for Goldband Records and his subsidiary Folk-Star between 1948 and his tragic death in 1955.  Record sales rarely went beyond the local Cajun audience due mainly to the language barrier and the fierce down-home nature of the music.  Eddie considered one of these early copies a "big hit": selling a mere 3500 copies!2

  2. Cajun Honky Tonk. The Khoury Recordings.  John Broven. Liner notes.
  4. Ye Yaille Chere by Raymond Francois
Release Info:
-A Teche Special | Goldband F-101-A
-B Te Mone | Goldband F-101-B

The Legendary Iry LeJeune (Goldband, 1991)
Iry Lejeune: Cajun's Greatest: The Definitive Collection (Ace, 2003)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.