Friday, March 29, 2019

"Evangeline Waltz" - Lawrence Walker

During the 1940s, the talented first cousins, Cleveland Leger and Lawrence Walker, rivaled each other at the bandstands. Patrons began to argue about which one was the best "accordion hand" in southwest Louisiana.  The rivalry between the closely kin musicians was finally settled in 1948 at Club La Lune near Bosco.  The stage was set. Tickets were printed with space for balloting for the best player.  Over 4,000 people crowded into witness for themselves who was the best accordion player. And Walker won, three to one.

To mention only a few places, Walker played for 17 years at the old O.S.T. dance-hall located at the outskirts of Rayne.  And he played for two and a half years at Landry's Palladium near Lafayette. He got the job by filling up a nearly bankrupt club the first night and kept it that way every Sunday night of his booking.  By 1951, George Khoury, record producer in Lake Charles, had Walker record "Evangeline Waltz" (#615). 


J'sus assis dans la port de ma maison, après pleurer,
J'sus après pleurer pour tu t'en reviens à rejoindre ton nègre,
Oui, chère 'tit monde, quand t'as quitter d'la maison,
Tu m'as dit tu pouvais, mais, p'us m'aimer,
Oh, yé yaille, mon cœur me fais mal.  
J'ai p'us personne à la maison, mais, pour m'aimer.

Oui, chère 'tit monde, si tu voudrais t'en revenir,
J'te pardonnerais pour tout ça que tu m'as fait,
C'est d'voir, aujourd'hui, j'ai p'us personne pour m'aimer
J'sus moi, tout seul, après mourir dedans l'chagrin.
Oh, bébé, mon chère 'tit bébé,
J'ai p'us personne à la maison, mais, pour m'aimer.

J'sus assis dans la porte de ma maison, après jongler,
J'sus après jongler si jamais tu va revenir,
Oui, chère 'tit monde, quand t'as quitter d'la maison,
Tu m'as dit tu pouvais, mais, p'us m'aimer.



 According to musician Chas Justus:


One of the great things the Cajuns did is the blues waltz.  "The Evangeline Waltz", that Lawrence Walker stuff, those are just blues to a waltz and I never heard that so much in other kinds of music. 
"Evangeline Waltz", that goes to that four chord, it's like the flat seven and the four chord, so it's got the blues in it. It's really bluesy.2 

Khoury lined up Walker's containing Ulysse Joseph "U.J." Meaux on fiddle, Demus Comeaux on guitar, Valmont "Junior" Benoit on steel guitar, and Lawrence Trahan on drums.  Musicians used their opportunity to boast, even exaggerate their careers. According to Walker, he made over 120 records.  "Evangeline Waltz" was his biggest seller.  "They are still asking for that record."1  
Daily Advertiser
Nov 4, 1949

When Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie records was slated to re-press some of Khoury's materials in 1969, George quickly responded:
Make this at once--will pay you for your trouble. Don't let no one have Evangeline Waltz!3  



I'm sitting in the door of my house, crying,
I'm crying for you to come back to your man,
Yes, my dear little everything, when you left the house,
You told me you couldn't, well, love me anymore,
Oh, yé yaille, my heart feels bad,
I have no one at home, well, to love me. 

Yes, my dear little everything, if you want to come back,
I would forgive you for all that you've done to me,
See, today, I have nobody to love me,
I'm by myself, all alone, dying in sorrow,
Oh baby, my dear little baby,
I have no one at home, well, to love me.

I'm sitting in the door of my house, reminiscing.
I'm reminiscing if you will ever come back,
Yes, my little everything, when you left the house,
You told me you couldn't, well, ever love me.





  1. Interview by Mona Mel Mouton.  Rayne Acadian Tribune.  Jan 18, 1968.
  2. Negotiating Difference in French Louisiana Music: Categories, Stereotypes ... By Sara Le Menestrel
  3. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2.  Liner notes.
Release Info:
Evangeline Waltz | Khoury's KH 615-A
Johnny Can't Dance | Khoury's KH 615-B

Find:
Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)
A Tribute to the Late, Great Lawrence Walker (La Louisianne, 1995, 2000)
Essential Collection of Lawrence Walker (Swallow, 2010)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

"New Jolie Blond" - Happy, Doc and the Boys

Happy Fats and Doc Guidry were two powerful promoters of Cajun-country music during the 1940s and 1950s.  Doc's history with governor Jimmie Davis stems from the 1930s.  In Cajun country, Jimmie's secret for winning votes was adding songs like "Jole Blon" and "Big Mamou" to his campaign program.   Happy Fats also sided with Davis, who he met in the late thirties.  According to Happy:
As far as my career is concerned I guess he helped me to get started in both recording and songwriting, for this and other favors I own him a lot.1   
Both Happy and Doc used the same promotion techniques to further their own careers.  According to musician Rod Bernard:
Happy would sell his show to used car lots and beer distributors and he's always done that.  In fact, if you see his truck around town he's got 'Happy Fats, Great Storyteller with compliments of Budweiser Beer, Evangeline Maid Bread' and all kind of things like that.  He's a real, real super-salesman.1
Happy Fats
Happy agreed:
We had a lot of sponsors. At one time we were on seven radio stations, most of it was live.  We did a lot of traveling, like on a Saturday we would play Opelousas, Lafayette, and Abbeville, three stations. Two of them were live from the stage of theaters they had linked with the radio stations.1



Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.... hah, hah, hah, hah, hah......

Hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh.... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh....

Jolie blonde, mais, tu croyais i(l) y avait juste toi, 

Y'a pas juste toi, mais, dans le pays pour, moi, aimer.

Oh, mais, jolie blonde, 
Moi, je connais, moi, je m'en vas, mais, pour toujours,
De mourir, mais, c'est pas rien, (ma) jolie petite blonde, 
Mais, (c'est de) rester en bas de la terre, mais, si longtemps.

(Jolie Blond, you've been kicked around,
You've been bounced around alot,
But now, you've been bounced around,
Like you've never been bounced before,
This is the new Jolie Blond, the one we're talking about,
The one that we've always known, the one with the pretty golden curls.)

Jolie blonde, mais, 'gardez-donc, mais, quoi t'as fait,
Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller, 
Pour t'en aller avec un autre que moi, 
Quel espoir et quel avenir, mais, moi j'peux avoir?
Church Point News
Aug 17, 1948

During record producer J.D. Miller's second session in late 1946, or probably 1947, the group entered his new recording studio in Crowley and covered the newly popularized Harry Choates song with a twist on the title called "New Jolie Blond" (#1005).  Backed up by fiddling duo, Oran "Doc" Guidry and Hanky Redlich, with Dalton Delcambre on steel guitar, it was Happy's attempt to capitalize on Harry's recent hit with "Jole Blon" that year... even mimicking Harry with an introductory chorus of "Eh, hah, hah!"   Happy had previously recorded the tune as "Nouveau Grand Gueydan" in 1939, with private plans to team up Harry and record "Jole Blon" in 1941.  However, after Harry left for the army in WWII and RCA cancelled the session because of shellac rationing, Happy recalls he lost his chance at scoring this hit:
"Jole Blon" had become a hit through Leo Soileau, myself, and Harry Choates who recorded it.  We were at this club in Lake Charles, they had a lot of soldiers that had come there from the local camp, from the Lake Charles air base and other places on a a Saturday night. And they loved this "Jole Blon". So I wrote to Steve Sholes at RCA and told him we ought to record this. And he wrote back and said "Well, there's a shortage of shellac during the war" and he give me all that.  In the meantime, Harry went off to Houston, he left the band and got in with a fellow by the name of Bill Quinn.  And he made 'Jole Blon' and it was a million seller.1,2



Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.... hah, hah, hah, hah, hah......

Hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh.... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh....

Pretty blond, well, you thought it was just you,

It's not just you, well, in the countryside for me, to love.

Oh, well, pretty blond,
I know, I'm going to go away, well, forever,
Dying, well, that's nothing, (my) pretty little blond,
Well, (it's just) resting in the ground, well, such a long time.

(Jolie blonde, you've been kicked around,
You've been bounced around alot,
But now, you've been bounced around,
Like you've never been bounced before,
This is the new Jolie Blonde, the one we're talking about,
The one that we've always known, the one with the pretty golden curls.)

Pretty blond, well, so look, well, at what you've done,
You have left, you went away,
You went away with another,
What hope and what future, well, do I have?








  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F and Jordy A
Release Info:
-A New Jolie Blond | Fais Do Do FDD F 1005 A
-B Dans La Platin (In The Lowlands) | Fais Do Do FDD F 1005 B

Find:

Jole Blon - 23 Artists One Theme (Bear, 2002)
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Friday, March 15, 2019

"Natchitocheo (French Town)" - Blind Uncle Gaspard

Two of some of the earliest recording artists in French Louisiana happened to be Alcide "Uncle Blind" Gaspard and John Bertrand.   They brought about  In addition to their repertoires of old French ballads, Gaspard and Bertrand also had in common the inclination, while playing, to whistle the melodies of various songs.  Gaspard provides an example during his 1929 recording "Natchitocheo (French Town)" (#5333), also sometimes listed as "Aux Natchitoches".1   Gaspard was from the Marksville area, not far from the Red River region of central Louisiana.  The Red River provided navigation to the north-western part of the state which is where the song's lover happens to live, in Natchitoches.



Aux Natchitoches I(l) n'a z-une brune et je ne la vois pas autant je veux, 
Aux Natchitoches I(l) n'a z-une brune et je ne la vois pas autant je veux,
Par un beau dimanche, je m’étais mis aller la voir, j'l’ai trouvée au lit malade,
Par un beau dimanche, je m’étais mis aller la voir, j'l’ai trouvée au lit malade,

Endormez vous? Sommeillez vous? Et tous nos amours, 'trends plus parlés, 
Endormez vous? Sommeillez vous? Et tous nos amours, 'trends plus parlés,
Si vous avez un-e habit z-à prendre, prenez la donc couleur de cendre,
Si vous avez un-e habit z-à prendre, prenez la donc couleur de cendre. 

C'est l'habillement de la plus triste pour un amant qui vit en langueur,
C'est l'habillement de la plus triste pour un amant qui vit en langueur, 
Ni je dors, ni je sommeille, toute la nuit mon esprit veille,
Ni je dors et ni je sommeille, toute la nuit mon esprit veille.

(whistle)

Aux Natchitoches I(l) n'a z-une brune et je ne la vois pas de quand je veux, 
Aux Natchitoches I(l) n'a z-une brune et je ne la vois pas de quand je veux,
Par un beau dimanche, je m’étais mis aller la voir, je l'ai trouvé joli malade,
mmmmmm.

Fort St. Jean Baptiste Des Natchitoches

According to author Dr. Ryan Brasseaux,

Gaspard waxed a ballad entitled “Aux Natchitoches,” presumably a colonial era composition handed down for generations in families of French extraction on the northern fringes of Cajun Country.3  
The settlement of Natchitoches was established in 1714 and is considered the oldest permanent European settlement within the boarders of the Louisiana Purchase.2  Given that the area west of this was considered Spanish Texas, it served as the most eastern stop on "El Camino Real", connecting the village all the way to Mexico City.4 With the location of the city's proximity to the Red River, stories of the region made their way into the Cajun country further south.  Even Gaspard's colonial French-Creole phrasing is more aligned with the French spoken along this river than the Cajun French spoken in the southern prairies.  


Blind Uncle Gaspard

Gaspard learned to play several instruments, possibly from family members.  These reportedly included guitar, violin, accordion, and bass fiddle.  At times he played with his brothers, Amadie, a violin player, and Victor, who played bass.1  Here, Gaspard sings of a lover that he doesn't visit often.  When he arrives, the singer is slowly dying and he prepares for her eventual death.  

In Natchitoches, there lives a brunette and I don't see her when I want,
In Natchitoches, there lives a brunette and I don't see her when I want,
On a beautiful Sunday, I had gone to see her, I found her sick in bed,
On a beautiful Sunday, I had gone to see her, I found her sick in bed.

Are you sleeping? Are you dozing? And all of our love, I never hear of it anymore,
Are you sleeping? Are you dozing? And all of our love, I never hear of it anymore,
If you have an outfit to take (wear), wear the dark black one,
If you have an outfit to take (wear), wear the dark black one.

It's the sad outfit for a lover that is living in languish (slowly dying),
It's the sad outfit for a lover that is living in languish (slowly dying),
I can't sleep, I can't doze off, all through the night, my mind stays awake,
I can't sleep and I can't doze off, all through the night, my mind stays awake.

(whistle)

In Natchitoches, there lives a brunette and I don't see her when I want,
In Natchitoches, there lives a brunette and I don't see her when I want,
On a beautiful Sunday, I had gone to see her, I found her sick in bed,
mmmmmm.
According to author Dr. Ryan Brasseaux, 
While most Cajun composers wrote about their immediate environs, “Aux Natchitoches” revolves around the strategic colonial settlement up river from Avoyelles. Between 1956 and 1957, ballad hunter Harry Oster recorded an almost identical adaptation of this early commercial recording.  Oster discovered vocalist and guitarist Bee Deshotel who sang the ballad a cappella. According to Oster, the thematic integrity of Blind Uncle’s solo recordings places the songs squarely in the French ballad tradition.3  





  1. Blind Uncle Gapard, Delma Lachney, John Bertrand - Early American Cajun Music. Yazoo liner notes.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchitoches,_Louisiana
  3. Bayou Boogie: the Americanization of Cajun music, 1928-1950.  Ryan Andre Brasseaux.  2004
  4. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/55055/55055-h/55055-h.htm
  5. Lyrics by Stephane F 

Release Info:
G05 NO-122 Natchitocheo (French Town) | Vocalion 5333
G06 NO-123 Sur Le Borde De L'Eau (On The Riverside) | Vocalion 5333

Find:
John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)

Friday, March 8, 2019

"Tant Que Tu Est Avec Moi" - Jolly Boys of Lafayette

The Jolly Boys got their start in 1937 with their only recording session with Decca.  Joe Fabacher led his group during the late 1930s through the 1950s. It included his brother Red and Leon "Crip" Credeur".  Francis "Red" Fabacher was a brilliant guitar player.  By 1940, Red was playing radio shows on KVOL along with Nason Guidry and the Sons Of Acadians.  However, soon after, he was drafted into WWII.

(Moi) tout seul dans la peine,

Moi tout seul, chère 'tit monde,

Mérite pas ça, ça t'as fais, 
Mais, ça t'as fais, jolie.

Quand ton nègre est avec toi,
C'est "chère" ici et "chère" là bas,
Mais, quand ton nègre est-z-à-coté,
T'as bien prié ton pauvre vieux nègre.
Crowley Daily Signal
Sept 7, 1950

The song was their version of Amede Ardoin's "Eunice Two Step".  It spawned other post-war versions such as Virgil Bozman's "Tell Me If You Love Me" and Lee Sonnier's "Chere Ici Et Chere La-Ba". The phrase chère ici et chère là bas eludes to a lover's quarrel, where in the love interest acts differently when her man is at her side versus when he's away.

(I'm) all alone in pain,

I'm all alone, dear little everything,

Don't deserve that, that you've done,
Well, that you've done, pretty.

When your man is with you,
It's "dearie" here and "dearie" there,
Well, when your man alone by your side,
You had better pray for your poor old man.

While Red got his start playing Cajun swing music, he also was adept to playing country and rock in the later years. By the time he got out of the service, he had joined Harry Choates band, playing full rhythm guitar and occasionally filling in for Happy Fats.




  1. Lyrics by Stephane F



Release Info:
61914-A Tant Que Tu Est Avec Moi (As Long As You're With Me) | Decca 17036 A
61915-A High Society | Decca 17036 B

Find: 
Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

"Rubber Dolly" - Harry Choates

Facts about Harry Choates' early life are lost to the sands of time, though it’s likely that he spent his early childhood in Rayne and New Iberia before his family moved to the booming oil town of Port Arthur, Texas in 1929. Beyond his birth certificate, the first concrete evidence of Choates’ existence came in the form of his first recorded appearance with Happy Fats’ Rayne-Bo Ramblers in 1940. Harry was now 17, and he emerged from childhood with two fully developed talents, the yin and yang that would define the highest and lowest moments of the rest of his life: the ability to drink most dedicated booze-hounds under the table and the musical genius to blow just about anybody off of the bandstand.1

Austin American
Oct 4, 1947


His 1947 instrumental, "Rubber Dolly" (#1331), for Gold Star records came to south Louisiana from the American hillbilly musicians of the Appalachian region. It became a marching song during WWI.  Quoted in the book “To the Last Ridge” by WH Downing, first published in 1920, he writes about hearing a wounded man out in no-man’s-land at Fromelles, singing it in his delirium.2,3,4  

Rumored to be the origins of an English nursery rhyme, it was later popularized by Woody Guthrie, Bill Parsons, Ella Fitzgerald and the Light Crust Doughboys.4  Earlier Cajun musicians such as Angelas Lejeune borrowed the melody for his popular "Bayou Pom Pom One Step".  Other derivatives of the melody found it's way into Joe Falcon's "Osson One Step", Adam Trahan's "Waltz Of Our Little Town" and Amede Ardoin's "Tortope d'Osrun".  Post-war Cajun versions can be found in Iry Lejeune's "Bayou Ponpon Special" and Austin Pitre's "High Point Two Step" and his "Janot Special".



Record producer, Bill Quinn, had such a large following of Harry Choates' music, he licensed out several songs from this session to Modern Records Hollywood of Los Angelas.  Listeners can hear Harry call out steel guitarist Ronald Ray "Pee Wee" Lyons. Among the other musicians were Joe Manuel on banjo, Eddie Pursley on guitar, B.D. Williams on bass, Johnnie Ruth Manuel on piano and Curzy "Pork Chop" Roy on drums.  Banjoist Chester "Pee Wee" Broussard, who played with Happy Fats at some of the same places Choates performed, related to Kevin Coffey:
[Harry Choates' Melody Boys] liked to drink, liked to smoke, and money just burned a hole in their pockets. We’d play a dance and get back to Rayne, and they’d go find a slot machine. Before we finished eating our breakfast, which was usually three in the morning, they were already broke and trying to borrow money from somebody else.1  







  1. http://www.offbeat.com/articles/harry-choates/
  2. http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=4030
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clapping_Song
  4. https://www.mamalisa.com/blog/did-you-sing-the-rhyme-rubber-dolly/


Release Info:

1331 Rubber Dolly | Gold Star 1331
1331 Fa-De-Do Stomp | Gold Star 1331

528A Rubber Dolly | Modern 20-528A
528B Cajun Hop | Modern 20-528B


Find:

Western Swing, Vol. 1 (Old Timey, 1966)
Harry Choates ‎– The Fiddle King Of Cajun Swing (Arhoolie, 1982, 1993)
Devil In The Bayou - The Gold Star Recordings (Bear Family, 2002)