Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Hippy Ti Yo" - Abe Manuel

Abraham "Abe" Manuel was a hillbilly fiddle player that dabbled in both country music and Cajun music, covering popular tunes of the region.  In the early 1940s, he played with Leo Soileau at the Avalon Club in Basile.  No strangers in the music business, Abe Manuel Sr. toured and appeared at the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry with Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. For a time, he was one of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys. He ended up playing with Chuck Guillory, Carrol Broussard, and even possibly Harry Choates with his brother Joe.  Broussard, who played steel guitar with Harry, recalls that Abe filled in on fiddle for Harry when he "went off to get cured".1   
Lake Charles American Press
Mar 3, 1954



C'est le Hip et Taïaut, ouais, 

Mais, qu'a volé mon traîneau, ouais, 

Quand il a vu j’étais devenu chaud, cherie,

Il a ramené mon traîneau. 



C'est le Pitre et Bosco, ouais, 
Qu'a volé mon gilet,
Quand il a vu j'suis d'venu chaud , chérie, 
T'as ramené mon gilet.

C'est le Hip et Taïaut, ouais, 
Mais, qu'a volé mon traîneau, ouais, 
Quand il a vu j’étais devenu chaud, cherie,
Il a ramené mon traîneau. 

C'est le Pitre et Bosco, ouais, 
Qu'a volé mon gilet,
Quand il a vu j'suis d'venu chaud , chérie, 
T'as ramené mon gilet.
Abe Manuel Sr.

Recorded in 1954 at J.D. Miller's studio in Crowley, Louisiana, Abe's Louisiana Hillbillies consisted of Abe Manuel on fiddle, Bradley Stutes on steel guitar, Dorothy "Dottie" Vincent on rhythm guitar, Amos Comeaux on drums, and either Wiley Barkdull or Cecil Farrell "Benny" Fruge on piano.  In the song, it's quite possible "Pitre et Bosco" is actually "filles de Bosco", similar to the lyrics in Leo Soileau's "Hackberry Hop".  Either way, the song is clearly taken from the well-known "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas" sung by Cleoma Breaux in 1934.   

It's Hip and Taïaut, yeah,

That stole my sled, yeah,

When they saw I had become hot, cherie,

They brought my sled back.


This is Pitre and Bosco, yeah,
That stole my vest,
When they saw I had become hot, cherie,
They brought my jacket back.

By 1965, Abe was living in Lake Charles and became vice-president of the Southern Association of Country and Western Music.   Years afterwards, Abe and his wife Dottie were owners of Manuel's Cajun Store in Milton, Tennessee for years. That store became a restaurant, and Abe Manuel Sr. found his calling. On summertime Friday nights at dusk, most of the town bring lawn chairs over to the restaurant, sit down in the road, and eat friend alligator and crawfish étouffée while watching the Manuels and their friends play Cajun country music on the porch.  





  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule 
  2. In the Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music By Nicholas Dawidoff
  3. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.music.country.classic/Hh9-IIB9nt4
  4. May 21, 1965 Lake Charles American-Press from Lake Charles, Louisiana · Page 5
Find:
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Monday, November 19, 2018

"Je Jais Pos C Cannye (Ain't Misbehavin')" - Patrick "Dak" Pellerin

Je Suis Pas Si Canaille!  In June 1929, the New Drug Store in Opelousas, Louisiana booked a full-page ad in the Clarion News to advertise the recordings of "Acadian Records" by Okeh.  The manager of the store, who took the group of six musicians to Atlanta, used the rhetoric explicitly based on the Evangeline myth.  Although Okeh was interested in Cajun music, Dr. A.J. Boudreaux sent along an Opelousas-born jazz crooner to fill in the session. The few Cajuns that tried to incorporate pop tunes of the day into their repertoire did so with the results achieving  cultural success or marketing failure.



Though it's a fickle age,
With flirting all the rage,
Here is one bird with self-control,
Happy inside my cage,
I know who I love best,
Thumbs down on all the rest,
My love was given heart and soul,
So it can stand the test.

Personne peut parler avec,
Je suis tout seul,
Personne avec qui marcher avec,
Mais je suis content sûr l'étagère,
Je fais pas cannaille,
Je garde mon amour pour toi.

Je connais pour sûr,
Que quand moi j'aime,
J'ai jamais courtiser dessus toi qu(i) a les cheveux foncés,
Je garde mon amour,
Je garde mon amour pour toi.

On raconte que,
Dans le p'tit coin,
Va pas nulle part,
Pas faire différence avec,
Tes baisers qu'on attend de toi, crois donc moi,

Ne reste pas en retard,
Ne pas aller,
Chez moi à huit heures, juste moi et mon radio,
Je fais pas cannaille,
Je garde mon amour pour toi.

On raconte que,
Dans le p'tit coin,
Va pas nulle part,
Pas faire différence avec,
Tes baisers qu'on attend de toi, crois donc moi,

Ne reste pas en retard,
Ne pas aller,
Chez moi à huit heures, juste moi et mon radio,
Je fais pas cannaille,
Je garde mon amour pour toi.

"Acadian Musicians Sing for Records"
Dr. A.J. Boudreaux, Oscar "Slim" Doucet,
Christine Mufzar, Jeanne LeBlanc,
S. Hawkins and Patrick Pellerin
Traveled to Atlanta to record for Okeh, 1929.
Center for Louisiana Studies, UL Lafayette

Patrick “Dak” Pellerin's banjo was the Cajun embodiment of America's waning minstrelsy traditions and the escalating jazz fervor sweeping the nation during the roaring twenties. Consequently, Pellerin's musical performance was absolutely cutting edge.1  Accompanied by pianist Mina Stubbs, the banjo player performed a English-French interpretation of Fats Waller and Andy Razaf's showstopper "Ain't Misbehavin" made famous by Broadway's all African-American musical revue "Connie’s Hot Chocolates". Okeh records entitled it "Je Jais Pos C Cannye (Ain't Misbehavin')" (#45410).


That year, "Ain’t Misbehavin'" became one of the most successful songs of its day. Ted Gioia states that more than 20 artists recorded the song in 1929 alone, including Louis Armstrong, Waller (an instrumental version) and Bill Bojangles with Irving Mills & his Hotzy Totsy Gang.  One of the unique versions to come out from that year was one by Ruth Etting who introduced a unique set of verses in the introduction.  It seems it's this version in which Pellerin chose to sing; starting in English and finishing in French.
Ruth Etting



No one to talk with,
I'm all by myself,
No one to walk with,
But I'm happy on the shelf,
I'm not being mischievous,
I'm keeping my love for you.

I know for sure
That when I love,
I'll never woo on the one that has dark hair,
I'm keeping my love,
I'm keeping my love for you.

It is said that,
In the little corner,
Don't go anywhere,
Doesn't make a difference,
Your kisses, which I look forward to, believe me,

I don't stay late,
I don't care to go,
At home at eight o'clock, just me and my radio,
I'm not being mischievous,
I'm keeping my love for you.

It is said that,
In the little corner,
Don't go anywhere,
Doesn't make a difference,
Your kisses, which I look forward to, believe me,

I don't stay late,
I don't care to go,
At home at eight o'clock, just me and my radio,
I'm not being mischievous,
I'm keeping my love for you.


Patrick is presented as a "student at Southwest Louisiana College" with his education validating the authenticity and the weight of his selections and promoting Acadian social status.1    The fact that Okeh marketed this jazz piano rendition as part of their "French Acadian" series highlights the lack of cultural understanding that major labels had regarding the nature of Cajun music.  It's no doubt that Pellerin's influence came less from Cajun Creole origins and more from French-converted contemporary radio tunes of the day.  As far as A&R executives were concerned, as long as it was in French and stemmed from Louisiana, it must be Cajun music.  





  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music: Categories, Stereotypes ... By Sara Le Menestrel
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
W403427 Because | Okeh 45410
W403428 Je Jais Pos C Cannye (Ain't Misbehavin') | Okeh 45410

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Church Point Breakdown" - Iry Lejeune

By the end of Wold War II, Cajun music had basically devolved into western swing music sung in French.  Gone were the accordions of the 1920s, replaced by Texas-style string bands of the 1940s.  The isolation of the Acadian prairies gradually gave way and the music scene opened up to locals yearning of the good 'ole days.   After the war, many GIs wanted to hear the old music again and after Iry Lejeune recorded in 1948, a number of musicians from the old days dug out their dusty, neglected accordions form closets or attics or barns and began playing again across dance halls.1


Eh, ye yaille, malheureuse,
Tout les jours dans ma maison,
J'après, mais, t'espérer,
Eh, rappelle-toi, catin,
Ton papa et ta maman t'a toujours dit,
De pas faire ça avec ton nègre. 

Eh, ye yaille, tout les jours,
Après souffert dans ma maison,
Plus personne que vient me rejoindre,
Oh, ça me ressemble,
'Tite fille, tout les jours tu connais,
Pour venir puis voir,
Quoi faire que, moi, j'suis là?

Eh, bébé, tout les jours,
Moi, j'suis là sur ma galerie,
Après espérer, pour ton vieux nègre,
Oh, tu devrais jamais m'oublier,
Tant loin q'moi j'm'en vas te dire,
Donc, garde-donc, j'm'ennuie de toi. 


Crowley Daily Signal
Feb 9, 1950

"Church Point Breakdown" (#1096) was an ode to the town of Church Point, not far from where Iry grew up in Pointe Noire.  Iry's relative, Angelas Lejeune, was also a well-known accordionist from Pointe Noire and Iry converted his cousin's tune "Le Petite One Step" into his own.  Recorded in 1953 at Iry's home with Milton Vanicor on fiddle and Goldband producer Eddie Shuler on guitar, it's one of the few Iry releases that Eddie pressed solely on 45 RPM.  Shuler invited director Drew Ellender for this session.  His main function was to let Iry know when to start and stop and he stood behind Iry who was sitting on the floor.  Iry's son Ervin Lejeune pointed out that he was sitting on the floor, "probably because daddy had a bad habit of tapping his feet."3  


Daily World
Jan 30, 1949


Hey, ye yaille, oh my,
Everyday in my house,
Well, I'm waiting for you,
Hey, remember, little doll,
Your father and your mother have always told you,
Don't do that to your man.

Hey, ye yaille, everyday,
Suffering in my home,
No one comes to meet me,
Oh, looks to me that way,
Little girl, everyday you know,
What is that I'm doing here?

Hey, baby, everyday,
I am there, on my porch,
Waiting, your old man,
Oh, you should never forget me,
As far as I can tell you,
So, look, I am lonesome for you.
It was Angelas who lent Iry his accordion to practice with while he plowed his fields and it was Iry's uncle Steven who gave the future star his first accordion.1  But Angelas wasn't the only family influence on Iry.  Many of the Lejeunes from the area between Pointe Noire and Church Pointe were musicians.  Iry's father Agness played and Angelas' family were all musicians. When author Andrew Brown was asked to compare Iry's style against Lawrence Walker, he stated:
Iry could play rings around Lawrence Walker.  Lawrence could play some good waltzes, but when it comes to two-steps, he couldn't touch Iry Lejeune.2  








  1. "Iry Lejeune rescued traditional Cajun music" by Gene Thibodeaux. The Church Point News.  Oct 11, 2008.  
  2. Wilson Granger interview.   Andrew Brown.  2005.
  3. "Iry Lejeune: Wailin the Blues Cajun Style" by Ron Yule
Release Info:
-1 La Valse (Dalse) de Bayou Chene | Goldband G-1096-1
-2 Church Point Breakdown | Goldband G-1096-2

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"Carolina Blues" - Nathan Abshire

Throughout the early 20s and 30s, standard blues chord progressions and melodies influenced many musicians in New Orleans, Chattanooga, Chicago, and Dallas.   Cajun musicians picked up on these popular tunes and created some of their own based around these familiar chords.  Nathan Abshire, who was already familiar with the blues, had already recorded his signature "Pine Grove Blues" and his "French Blues" earlier in the 1940s.


By the later 50s, Nathan's recording career was winding down and both he and Dewey Balfa used this opportunity to rework a very familiar blues set into his "Carolina Blues" (#649). Listed in either 1955 or possibly early 1956 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, his tune can be found in a number of pre-war era songs such as "Tipple Blues" by the Allen Brothers and Kentucky String Ticklers, the "Ginseng Blues" by the Kentucky Ramblers, "The Georgia Black Bottom" by the Georgia Crackers, "Chevrolet Car" by Sam McGee, and "Honky Tonk Blues" by Jimmie Davis.   However, according to author Kevin Coffey, Nathan used the melody of the Shelton Brother's "Deep Elem Blues".  He states:
It's pretty much "Deep Elem Blues" melodically, the same melody that Happy Fats cut as "Se Mallereaux" in the '30s, and I'm sure other Cajuns did similar things back then with same melody.


Quand j’ai quitté ta maison là bas dans la caroline,
Pour venir à la Louisiane, mais, pour rejoindre mon cher bébé,
On m'avait dit, m'avait dit qu'elle m’aimait, 
Aujourd'hui, elle est après me quitter, bébé, 
Ça, ça me fait trop du mal.

Mon 'tit bébé m'a quitté pour s'en aller avec un autre, 
S'en aller avec un autre, c’était là bas àyoù il fallait pas 
Où moi j'vas aller, chère 'tite fille, fais pas ça z'avec moi, 
Viens me rejoindre à la maison, 
J'suis moi tout seul après pleurer.
Dewey Balfa
Courtesy of Masters of Traditional Arts



In fact, Nathan may have borrowed the tune from Happy Fats' recording of "Se Mallereaux", since both Nathan and Happy had started their careers together back in the 1930s and lyrically the songs are awfully similar.  The song features Dewey Balfa on vocals and fiddle, Nathan Abshire on accordion, possibly Jake Mire on steel and possibly Shelton Manuel or Thomas Langley on drums.   The song would later be re-titled as "Bouret Blues".  Dewey's rendition spoke of leaving the Carolinas to meet his lover, only to find out she had already left him. 
Crowley Daily Signal
May 3, 1969


When I left your house there in the Carolina,
To come to Louisiana, well, to meet my dear baby,
I had been told, told that she loved me,
Today, she is leaving me, baby,
That, that hurts me too much.

My little baby left me to go away with another,
To go away with another, it's over there, where you mustn't go,
Where I'm going to go, dear little girl, don't do that to me,
Come meet me at home,
I'm all alone crying.

Some sources place it on July 1957, however, given Khoury's lack of documentation, it's quite possible it was released anywhere around this period.   This pressing came out both in 78 and 45, making it one of the few Nathan Abshire recordings on both mediums.  Strangely enough, Khoury had the songs on each side of #649 reversed, with incorrect labels for the songs.  He even used a different label color and probably a different pressing plant.  







  1. http://www.mastersoftraditionalarts.org/
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
K-649-A Boora Rhumba 649-A Khoury's (label reversed on 78)
K-649-B Carolina Blues 649-B Khoury's (label reversed on 78)

Find:
Nathan Abshire & the Pine Grove Boys - French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Crowley Waltz" - Hackberry Ramblers

When Louisiana musicians Edwin Duhon and Luderin Darbone founded the Hackberry Ramblers, the country was mired in the Great Depression and FDR had just moved into the White House.3 

The son of an oil field worker, Duhon was born in Youngsville. A Cajun, he grew up speaking French. He later recalled that he was forbidden to speak French in school and that whenever he did, he was spanked.3  Edwin Duhon, played both guitar and accordion, though later in his career he focused exclusively on the latter instrument. Luderin Darbone, a fiddler, spent part of his youth in East Texas, where he acquired a taste for country music to complement the Cajun sounds of his native South Louisiana. Duhon and Darbone formed the Hackberry Ramblers in 1933, and the band went on to become one of the most innovative and long-lasting in American popular music.1  According to the group's producer, Ben Sandmel:
Edwin had a really good ear for music.  He could hear a song as it was being played for the first time and jump right in with either playing a really inventive solo or playing a backup part that would fit perfectly. And he could do that with any style of music -- Cajun, country, rockabilly, the blues.3

Lennis Sonnier, 
Edwin Duhon,
Luderin Darbone

www.mastersoftraditionalarts.org

The group became popular playing for dancers in Louisiana and Texas and in 1935 began recording more than 100 tunes on 78-rpm records for RCA’s Bluebird label.1  However, Edwin had left the group before they had a chance to record their first song.   After nine months as a member, however, Duhon got married and left the group to take a job working in the oil fields.3   Darbone recalls:
Since he was married, he had to earn a living.  With the music, we were lucky to make $3 a night apiece.3

Replaced with Floyd and Lonnie Rainwater, the group recorded a tune in which they called  "Crowley Waltz" (#2173), as their first Cajun single in 1935 at the New Orleans' St. Charles Hotel.  Not to be confused with Cleoma Breaux's earlier recording of "La Valse Crowley", she would also take the melody and recorded it the following year as "Ma Valse Favori"; not all that different from their earlier recording of "Poche Town".  Crowley was a small town in Louisiana where most of the band members would end up moving, in order to play more often.  
Lake Charles American Press
Mar 28, 1947

Luderin states:
When I moved to Crowley, I had Lennis. He moved down. Lennis is from Vinton, a little town west of here. We decided if we moved to Crowley it would be more of a central location for us so that's what we did.4  




Later in 1947, under Luderin's direction, the group re-recorded the tune for Deluxe Records.  This time, Edwin had rejoined the band and they added Chink Widcamp on bass.

In 1963, the group reworked the tune for Arhoolie Records in a session located in Lake Charles.  Edwin kept on playing with the group until he was 95. Ben Sandmel stated:
Edwin was a tough, tough old guy. He played as recently as November [2006] in Baton Rouge, even though he was playing in a wheelchair and it was difficult for him to go.3


Edwin Duhon2


1935 - Crowley Waltz


  1. http://www.mastersoftraditionalarts.org/artists/76?selected_facets=name_initial_last_exact:L
  2. National Endowment for the Arts
  3. Edwin Duhon, 95; Co-Founded Cajun Band March 19, 2006|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/mar/19/local/me-duhon19)
  4. http://arhoolie.org/hackberry-ramblers/
Find:
Cajun Champs (Arhoolie, 2005)