Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"One Step De Laccissine" - Nathan Abshire & Rayne-Bo Ramblers

The first introduction to Cajun blues in Louisiana came from the Afro-Creoles that created some of the first Cajun standards in Louisiana.  Other musicians took note, copying their style, and inserting their own soul into the music.  Nathan Abshire was especially taken with the spirited playing and singing of Creole accordionist/singer Amédé Ardoin, and Ardoin often invited Abshire to play with him. 
Every Saturday we used to go to John Foreman’s saloon. I’d see Amédé Ardoin coming down the way. He’d say, ‘Abshire, you’ve got to help me tonight.’ I’d say. ‘Amédé, I can’t help you.’ ‘Oh yeah,’ he’d say, ‘We’re both going to play. I’ll play for awhile, you play for awhile.’ I’d say, ‘I don’t feel much like going Amédé.’
Nathan Abshire
But I’d go and we’d sure make some music. As far as that goes, we made some great music.1

During his very first recording session, in 1935, along side Happy Fats' Rayne-Bo Ramblers, the team of Norris Savoy on fiddle and Warnes "Tee-Neg" Schexnyder on guitar traveled to New Orleans to record a tune named after a small town in Louisiana: "One Step De Laccissine" (#2178). Typical of national recording labels, they rarely cared about proper names; misspelling Nathan's name as "Nason Absher" and Lacassine as "Laccissine".  In standard Abshire style, Nathan used the accordion to foreshadow his interest in Cajun blues.  According to author Ryan Brasseaux:
The "One Step de Laccissine", for example, is a vibrant romp that flirts with the melody that would become "Pine Grove Blues".2

  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Release Info:
BS-94412-1 One Step De Laccissine | Bluebird B-2178 A
BS-94413-1 Le Valse De Boutte Dechuminen | Bluebird B-2178 B

Le Gran Mamou: A Cajun Music Anthology (CMF, 1990)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

"Le Midland Two Step" - Amede Ardoin

Amede Ardoin was one of the first African-American accordionists to make a "French" record. He was a popular performer and creative improvisational singer, respected by blacks and whites alike. His vocal and playing styles have influenced most Cajun and Creole musicians since then. He recorded many sides, with Dennis McGee on fiddle, and later in the mid-1930s on his own.1 Based on the slower Angelas Lejeune's "La Valse Du Texas", Ardoin took the slow tempo waltz and created a fast-paced two-step from the melody.

Oh, toi, catin, ô tous mes parents,
Oh, moi, je connais, ça veut pas me voir chez toi.

Oh, toi 'tite fille, comment ça se fait avec toi,
Tu me fais tant de la misère sans jamais je t'ai rien fait,
Oh, je m'en vas en quelque part, ouais, pour mon je te voir,
Ouais, pour moi, je te voir, mais, tes parents veulent pas que mon je te vois.

Oh, ye yaille, toi, catin, ça peut passer,
Tu sais, chez ma marraine, moi, j’avoir au moins 5 sous,
Oh, moi, je m'en vas, ô, j'ai pas d'argent,
Oh, mon papa et ma maman m'en a pas donné.

Oh, ye yaille, catin, éoù c'est je vas aller,
Oh, pour mon te voir toutes les heures dimanche matin,
Oh, moi, j'allais, là-bas éoù toi, t'etais,
Moi, je m'aperçois, mais, ta maman veut pas me voir.
Amede Ardoin

In 1934, record mogul, Jack Kapp, who had recently left Brunswick Records that year, quietly pulled some of their previous recording artists to record for a new label named Decca.  He convinced former Brunswick artists such as Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo and Amede Ardoin to sign with the fledgling label.  During a solo trip to New York City, Kapp invited both the Falcons and Ardoin to their main studio where Ardoin waxed the quick paced song, "Le Midland Two Step" (#17003) as an ode to the small farming community in Acadia Parish.   In an agriculturally-dominated society, if one wasn't farming, they were considered lazy.   Fiddle player Canray Fontenot and his father remembered growing up playing music with Amede.  
Amede, he was the lazy type of man. He was the baby of the family.  He didn't like to work. He was always playing. He'd go somewhere if he knew someone was making a big boucherie, he go over there and sit down with his accordion, and play there.  They'd feed him, maybe give him a piece of meat to take home to give to one of his brothers.2     

Oh, you little doll, oh, my parents,
Oh, I know, they don't want to see me at your place.

Oh, you little girl, why have you done that?
You've made me so miserable without ever doing anything to you,
Oh, I'm going to go somewhere, yeah, so I can see you,
Yeah, so I can see you, however, your parents do not want me to see you.

Oh, ye yaille, you little doll, that passes by,
You know, at my godmother's place, I have at least five cents.
Oh, I'm going away, oh, I have no money,
Oh, my dad and my mom did not give me any.

Oh, ye yaille, little doll, where am I going to go?
Oh, for I see you all the time on Sunday mornings,
Oh, I'm going to go over there, where you were,
I realize, well, your mother does not want to see me.

  1. J'ai Ete Au Bal Vol. 1.  Arhoolie CD 331.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Marc C
Release Info:
39196-B Le Midland Two Step (The Midland Two Step) | Decca 17003 A
39204-A Valse De Mon Vieux Village (My Old Home Town Waltz) | Decca 17003 B

I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)