Monday, June 4, 2018

"Rayne Breakdown" - Happy Fats

The early years of Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc's career can be summed up by his first music teacher, Eva McBride of Rayne, Louisiana. Eva brought her musical talents with her to Rayne when she married Walter J. McBride, and was at McBride's Pharmacy to "encourage the arts" at every opportunity.   At the left, far corner was an array of musical instruments from which families in Rayne purchased everything from clarinets and flutes to the smaller horns. She believed a family didn't just buy an instrument for a youngster, Eva was there to give "first lesson" on any instrument in the store.1

But the one instrument that had "intrigued" young soda-jerk and shoeshine boy, Happy Fats, was this guitar, which McBride always "strummed" at her every visit to the store. Happy would build up his courage one day to ask if "Miss Eva" might teach him " a chord or two" on the guitar.   After he paid for the guitar with a sack of rough rice given to him by his mother, who worked a the local mill, it began Happy Fats' musical career.1
Eric Arceneaux, Louis Arceneaux, Happy Fats
1936 Blue Goose Dancehall2

By 1935, he formed his group and kicked off his string-band recording career with "Rayne Breakdown" in New Orleans for Bluebird Records.  It was an old traditional melody made famous by Angelas Lejuene known as "Perrodin Two Step".  His group had Warnes Schexnayder on guitar and Norris Savoy on fiddle.  Happy played his guitar on street corners up and down Adams Avenue, formed his Rayne-Bo Ramblers, performed at the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry.   He published music in both English and French and associated with the likes of Tex Ritter, Hank Williams, and Louisiana's Jimmie Davis.1  

  1. Plan Of Rayne by Sidney Stutes.  Rayne Tribune. 2014.
  2. Rayne's People and Places By Tony Olinger
Release Info:
BS-94404-1 Rayne Breakdown | Bluebird B-2176-A
BS-94405-1 Dor, Baby, Dor | Bluebird B-2176-B

Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)

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