Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Belle Of Point Clare" - Arteleus Mistric

One of the more unique recordings during the pinnacle year of early traditional Cajun music is the harmonica-led recordings by Artelus Mistric.  A native of Leonville, he sings about a beautiful lover living in the small community that straddles Leonville and Arnaudville, known as Pointe Claire.  It was a low lying area named after the bayou of the same name. 

T'es petite et t'es mignonne,
C'est pour moi, malheureuse,
Ça t’fais tout, moi j’ai,
Pas fait ça.

Ton vieux negre, 'garde-donc, chère,
Mais, roulait, mais, les chemins,
C'est pour toi malheureuse,
Mais, donc, pour aller.*

Moi j’croyais pas, toi, 
T’avais le cœur, malheureuse,
Si criminelle que ça,
Chère 'tite fille.

Artelus Mistric

Similar to neighboring musician Moise Robin who was inspired by Mayuse Lafleur, Artelus seems to be take the popular melody of Lafleur's The Criminal Waltz (La Valse Criminale) and turn it into what he called "Belle Of Point Clare" (#22108).  Most likely sponsored by Frank Dietlein or some other local store owner, several St. Landry Parish and St. Martin Parish musicians were on hand for this 1929 recording session in New Orleans including Oscar Doucet, Berthmost Montet, Joswell Dupuis, Adolph "Bixy" Guidry, Percy Babineaux, and the Soileau Couzens, Leo and Alius Soileau.

You are small and you're sweet,
It's because of me, you poor woman,
All that you've done,
I didn't do that.

Your old man, look, dear,
Well, roaming, well, the roads,
It's because of you, you poor woman,
Well, so, (he's) going.

I can't believe, you,
(That) you'd have a heart, you poor woman,
So mean like that,
Dear little girl. 

The lover in the story is clearly blaming himself first, then begins to blame his love interest because he left.  The Victor recordings list his instrument as the "French harp" and included Opelousas-native Eldon Gill. It's quite possible that Eldon, an "expressman" and auto mechanic, helped Artelus craft the song lyrics. 

  1. Lyrics by Smith S
Release Info:
BVE-56507 Tu Ma Partient (You Belong To Me) | Victor 22208-A
BVE-56506 Belle of Point Clare | Victor 22208-B

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

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