Friday, January 11, 2019

"Dans Les Grand Meche" - Lee Sonnier

In 1948, Livaudais "Lee" Sonnier's connection with Fais Do Do records was a chance circumstance when producer J.D. Miller married into the family.  Miller was a musician himself.  He had played with several hillbilly groups, even playing alongside Amedie Breaux on one occasion during the 1930s.  But it wouldn't be long before Miller entered the military.  Once he was out, he created his own contracting business and rented a large building.   

In the meantime he had married an accordion player's daughter.  His wife was the daughter of Lee Sonnier of Rayne, a local musician. However, with all the building space, he chose to use some of the building to sell musical instruments.  This led to making records. Having already recorded string band leader, Happy Fats, Miller decided Lee's accordion talent was a reasonable addition. He recalls:

The jukebox operators around town came to me wanting Cajun French records.  There weren't many available, only Harry Choates' "Jole Blon".  The records of Joe Falcon had been discontinued. I figured heck, we'd try to make some of our own.1

Moi, j'connais, moi, j'm'en va, chère 'tit fille, malheureuse,
Dans la platin(?) avec un autre, mais, pour toujour,
Moi j'connais, tu va venir, chère 'tit fille, malheureuse,
Avec ton negre pas longtemps, mais, chère mignonne.

Tout les jours, tu m'aimie, moi j'connais, (...........?) 
Qui m'aime, chère 'tit fille, malheureuse,
Moi, j'm'en va, pour toujour, j'connais (les) promets, malheureuse,
Moi, j'connais tu va venir (à grand mèche).
Lee Sonnier

In 1948, Miller gathered the group at his new recording studio at the M&S Electrical shop.  After purchasing a tape recorder, Miller recorded the group performing the traditional "Dans Le Grand Meche" on Miller's new Fais Do Do label featuring Happy Fats on vocals and bass.   It was a slightly different take on the traditional melody of "Grand Texas".  Backing him up was Lawrence "Blackie" Fruge on fiddle and Eula Mae Fruge on guitar.  Miller had recorded the group with his own equipment in his shop.  Taking the time and effort to get a good recorded sound, he said:
I went to Houston to the Gates Radio Supplies. They had just received three Magnecord tape recorder, it seems like it was the PT-6 model. You could carry it around, so I bought that, three microphones and a three volume mixer.  I think I was helped by my electrical background.  I had a sense of something. I didn't go by the book because I went by these two things.... my ears.2  
J.D. Miller

I know, I'm going to leave, dear little girl, oh my,
In the lowlands with another, well, forever,
I know, you are going to come, dear little girl, oh my,
With your man not long ago, well, dear cutie.

Everyday, you loved me, I know, (........?)
Who loved me, dear little girl, oh my,
I'm leaving, forever, I know the promises, oh my,
I know you are going to come (to the marsh).

  1. Interview with J.D. Miller. Stacey Courville. CPS. 1983.
  2. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge By Martin Hawkins
Release Info:
-A Dans Les Grand Meche | Fais Do Do F-1002-A
-B Chere Catan | | Fais Do Do F-1002-B

Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Monday, January 7, 2019

"Chere Petite Blun" - Vincent & Cagley

Fiddle player and Cajun drummer, Crawford Vincent, came from a musical family.  His grandfather, Theozime Vincent, who had come from France, was known to play dances in the Gueydan area as early as the 1870s.   Crawford not only learned from his grandfather, but also from a local fiddler named J.B. Fuselier.  However, Crawford's biggest influence came from listening to and playing with the Hackberry Ramblers.1

Will Kegley grew up in a sharecropper family where he and the Clement family grew up together. Accordion player Terry Clement believes this is where Will learned how to play the fiddle.   By the late 1930s, Will and a guitar player from Jennnings named Ernest Thibodeaux.    Will Kegley's biggest connection to the music was when he helped find Nathan Abshire to lead the Pine Grove Boys.   
Crawford Vincent

Oh 'tit monde, tout ça, mais, t'es après faire, 
Si loin, 'tite fille, de moi de toi,
Oh, tout le temps, après 'garder, ouais, pour toi, 
Ça on appelle ma chère,  jolie petite brune.

Oh tout le temps, de t'voir, mais, aussi loin, 
Avec un autre, 'tite fille qui m'aimait pas. 
Oh, de t'voir, avec un autre, avec un monde,
(Je te) promets, 'tit monde, ça fait de la peine.

Crawford and Will were popular musicians that played often together in other groups such as in Shuk Richard's Louisiana Aces.1  They duo came together in 1952 to recording for George Khoury's new record lable Lyric where they waxed "Chere Petite Blun" (#605), adding Cecil Farrell "Benny" Fruge on piano.  Sadly, the rest of the musicians during the session is unknown. Khoury's lack of attention to detail produced a title with the word "brun" misspelled along side Kegley's name written as "Cagley".
Will Kegley

Oh, my everything, all that, well, you've done,
So far away, little girl, I am from you,
Oh, all the time, looking, yeah, for you, 
We call my dear, pretty little brunette.

Oh, all the time, seeing you, well, so far away,
With another, little girl, who doesn't like me,
Oh, seeing you with another, everywhere,
(I) promise you, little everything, it hurts.

However, in tragic turn of events, Will's reputation would be cemented as a rough musician. In June of 1954, while playing with the Pine Grove Boys, he stabbed steel guitar player Atlas Fruge in a fit of rage over the jealously surrounding his wife Oziet.   He was sentenced to Angola for 18 months but only served a year.   Afterwards, he filled in with other bands such as Andrew Cormier's Rambling Aces.1  

  1. Cajun Dancehall Heyday by Ron Yule
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
A Chere Petite Blun | Khoury's/Lyric 605-A
B Lawtell Two Step | Khoury's/Lyric 605-B

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings Vol. 2 (Arhoolie, 2013)