Monday, June 25, 2018

"Madame Saustin" - Sandy Austin

When Cajun music was brought back to life after WWII, the old classics served as perfect catalysts for emerging artists.  For example, several of Joe Falcon recordings were copied by musical performers after the war.   One of his early tunes "La Valse de Madame Sosten" ended up being covered by dance hall Cajun musicians such as Lawrence Walker and string band Cajun musicians such as Sandy Austin and his Kajans.

Oh, Madame Sosthène, mais, donnez-moi Alida,

La seule moi j'aime tant, mais, depuis l'âge de quatorze ans,

Quand même tu ne veux pas, faudra toujours toi tu viens,

Mon toujours été ton vieux nègre, à pas longtemps, pour ça t'as fais.

Corpus Christi Times
Jun 15, 1951

"Sandy Austin" was actually Abe Manuel Sr., a stage name he started using in 1950.  After he and his brother Joe stopped playing with Harry Choates, they would travel to places around east Texas billed as "Sandy Austin and His Kajans" or "Sandy Austin and His Texans" at places like "The Riviera" club in Corpus Christi.  Meanwhile, his brother could be found across town, billed as "Joe Austin: The Fiddlin' Frenchman and All the Cajuns".  Steel guitarist Carrol Broussard, who played with Manuel during much of this period, recalls:
He used the name Sandy Austin while he was in Corpus Christi.  When his brother Joe joined him, they went under the names Sandy and Joe Austin.  When they left the area they didn't use the name anymore.... No one ever said why they called themselves that.1  
However, years later, western swing researcher, Andrew Brown, tracked down Abe and found out the truth:
There were five Abe Manuels in Lake Charles.  And man, I was getting everybody's bills.  My credit wasn't all that good, but it wasn't that bad, either.  I just said, "Look, I've got to get off of the name Abe Manuel.  Call me something else."   And somebody jumped up and said "Sandy Austin".  I don't know how in the hell they wound up with "Sandy Austin".2   

Oh, Mrs. Sostene, well, give me Alida,

The only one I like so much, well, since the age of 14,

Even though you do not want me to, I'll come visit,

I'll always be your old man, it wasn't long ago, that you've done this.
Recorded at the Corpus Christi Radio KWBU Studio during their long-term booking at a club in the area, O.T. Records co-producers, Virgil Bozeman and Bob Tanner, had already worked with Choates in San Antonio and had scheduled this early 1951 session with Abe's band to record "Madame Saustin" (#113).2  Abe's had his brother Joe on guitar and Lake Charles natives, George Duhon and Crawford Vincent, on bass and drums.  Tanner and Bozeman had Abe backed up by the "king of the steel willie", Skillet Garner, on steel guitar.   

By 1951, he was performing with Adolph Hofner and his Pearl Wrangles in central Texas and later, traveled the country with Lefty Frizzell before returning to Lake Charles in late 1953.2  By the mid 1950s, he had formed the Louisiana Hillbillies.

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  2. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2. Liner notes.

Release Info:
OT 5 (113A) Scrambled Eggs | O.T. A-113
OT 6 (113B) Madame Saustain | O.T. B-113

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