Thursday, May 30, 2024

"La Danse Carre" - Dennis McGee & Ernest Fruge

Music associated with French and American dance forms influenced much of early Cajun social life in the 1920s.  From their Anglo-American neighbors, Cajun musicians learned jigs, hoedowns, and Virginia reels to enrich their growing repertoire which already included polkas, contredanses, varsoviennes and valses-à-deux-temps.5  Similar to the contredanse (counter-dance), the Cajun French square dance embraced a loosely structured call-out routine throughout the dance number.  These Cajun dances appeared in Acadie in the 17th century and flourished throughout.  According to musician and Acadian music researcher, Devon Léger, 

"Reel de la Rivière à la Truite" from New Brunswick.  It actually corresponds to a Cajun tune.  The first and third parts of "La Danse Carre" correspond pretty closely to two different old Acadian tunes from Eastern Canada! It's clear that French songs travelled from W. France to Canada to Louisiana with Acadians, but it's been super hard to demonstrate anything with the tunes.  Another Acadian tune, called "Rabastan à Avila Leblanc", from the Magdalen Islands. These islands from the coast of Quebec were one of the last strongholds of old style Acadian fiddling, so they have a lot of the old beautiful tunes.  The second part of "Rabastan" is exactly like the third part of "La Danse Carre", which is a really interesting correlation between old Acadian fiddling from Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cajun fiddling.6  

When George Washington Cable toured through Louisiana in 1888, he commented on the Cajun dance: When a girl was old enough to "move into society"—that is, for marriage—she was "meant to join in the contra-dance.4  Cable continues: 
The fiddler's seat is mounted on a table in the corner.  The fiddler is in it.  Each beau has led a maiden into the floor.  The sets are made for the contra-dance.  The young men stand expectant, their partners wait with downcast eyes and mute lips as Acadian damsels should. The music strikes up, and away they go!4  

Dennis McGee

Although fiddler Dennis McGee spoke little but Cajun French, he was known nationally form appearances on such shows as "Prairie Home Companion" and from stops at colleges and festivals around the country.   McGee's career spanned most of the 20th century.  When Cajun music was first being recorded in the late 1920s, he played with such artists as Amede Ardoin, Joe Falcon and Amede Breaux.2  As a fiddler, McGee was keenly aware of the popularity of square dance styles.  He recalled:
I would love to be twenty years old again.  They danced contredanses throughout my courting days.  The contredanse wasn't difficult. You just had to turn around, making little steps while you turned.5  

During a recording session in 1929, he and Ernest Fruge recorded "La Dance Carre" (#512). Directly translated to "The Square Dance", you can hear Walter Coquille, a Cajun humorist who was present at the session, calling out dance instructions. McGee recalled playing this style at house dances every Saturday and Sunday from seven o'clock until midnight, where he'd received one dollar a night. 
We played all kinds of dances.  In a dance-hall in Ville Platte, we'd play first a "danse carrée", then a waltz, then a "two-step".  The "danse carrée" was very popular back then.  They danced by six or eight pairs.  Somebody would call out "Famille en ronde" and the girl would hold the arm of her partner.  Then they'd all make a big circle and return to place.  Then two pairs would cross together.  Then they'd form two lines, boys in one line and girls in the other.  They'd go in and meet and turn, then the pair would go down the line together.3    
Leleux Dancehall, 1938
Courtesy of LOC, Russell Lee Collection

Sometimes referred to as une contredanse francaise, it seemed to fade out of popularity towards the late 1930s, in particularly the regions of St. Landry parish and Evangeline parish.  Although McGee continued to play square dances afterwards, however, Fruge never recorded commercially for a major recording label ever again.  According to music producer Christopher King, he states: 
Their recording session features this hypnotic, driving, in-your-head twin fiddle breakdown. Two violins: one playing the lead, the other playing rhythm. "La Dance Carre" not only reminds me of the Carter Brothers but also the driving, hypnotic music we would also hear all over the world.1

  1.   Chris travels at 78 RPM: “I’m No Lyre” – Episode 4.   Radio show.
  2. "Cajun Fiddler Dead".  CPS. 1989.
  3. Dennis McGee ‎– The Complete Early Recordings.  Liner notes. 
  4. Bonaventure: A Prose of Acadian Louisiana By George Washington Cable
  5. Cajun and Creole Music Makers By Barry Jean Ancelet
  6. Discussions with Devon Léger, March 4, 2023.

Release Info:
NO-6713 La Rille Cajen | Brunswick 512
NO-6714 La Danse Carre | Brunswick 512 


The Early Recordings Of Dennis McGee: Featuring Sady Courville & Ernest Fruge (Morning Star, 1977)
Dennis McGee ‎– The Complete Early Recordings (Yazoo, 2006)

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

"La Fille A Oncle Elair" - Joe Falcon & Cleoma Breaux

The early surge of musical creativity carried over into a new period as Cajun performers throughout the 1930s, adapted tunes they heard on the radio. Joe and Cleoma were both known to have taken popular tunes of the day and recorded them in Cajun French.  

After the Great Depression, Joe and Cleoma were approached by RCA to travel to their makeshift studio in San Antonio for a recording session.  Together, the duo recorded four sings in 1934, one of them known as "La Fille A Oncle Elair" (#2191).  The song's popular was easily eclipsed by the record's popular flipside recording of "Ils Volet Mon Trancas", better known as "Hippy Ti Yo".  

Ah yéyaie les filles à n'onc Hilaire, 
C'est toutes des chères belles filles, 
Y'a une 'tite brune, y'a une 'tite blonde, 
Un qui est trop noire pour moi z'aimer, 
Mais, ça me fait du mal à moi.

Ah yéyaie les filles à n'onc Hilaire, 
C'est toutes des chères belles filles, 
Y'a une 'tite brune, une 'tite blonde, 
Un qui est pas de mon goût du tout, 
Mais, ça me fait du mal.

Ai yé yaille, les filles à Nonc’ Hilaire,
C'est toutes des chères ‘tites filles,
Tout ce qui me dégoute de porter des petits souliers numéro 9,
C’est trop de l’argent pour moi dépenser,
Fait pas ça avec moi.

Je me rappelle quand moi je passais,
Devant la porte de ta maman, 
N'en n’a pas un qui voulait me voir,
J'ai eu de la chance, mais-aujourd’hui,
De m' faire de l’argent,
Mais, ils m'ont tous dit d’aller me voir,
Elle voulait me voir avant de mourir.

Nonc Helaire Trahan
and Anita Babineaux Trahan

The song is a story of Nonc Helaire's daughters, each of whom had different colored hair.  The dark haired one was tough to love as a little girl since she seemed to desire expensive things such as "little size 9 shoes".   The author is clearly broke and only when he acquires enough money to make them happy, then he can visit their dying mother at her home.   In real life, "Nonc Helaire" was Helaire Trahan Sr, who came from such a large family that everyone knew him as "nonc".  A native of nearby Osson, Louisiana, he had three daughters, Nell, Verna and Joycelyn—the three filles referenced in Joe's song.1  

Aye ye yaille, the girls of uncle Helaire, 
They are all dear beautiful girls,
There's a brunnette, there's a blonde,
One who is too dark haired for me to love,
But, that hurts me so much.

Aye ye yaille, the girls of uncle Helaire, 
They are all dear beautiful girls,
There's a brunnette, there's a blonde,
One who is not my taste at all, 
But, that hurts me so much.

Aye ye yaille, the girls of uncle Helaire,  
They are all dear beautiful girls,
Everything disgusts me about them wearing little size nine shoes,
It's too much money for me to spend,
Don't do that to me.

I remember when I passed,
In front of your mother's door,
Not one of them wanted to see me,
I was lucky, today, to have money,
Well, they all told me to come see,
She wanted to see me before she died. 

Since then, the song has been recorded by many, including Beausoleil and the Basin Brothers, even taken on a caricature with Revon Reed as the famed "Nonc Helaire".  In 1996, Helaire's grandson, Horace Trahan, reworked the song in the studio and released it on his Swallow Records CD "Osson Blues".  

  1. Discussions with Anita H
  2. Lyrics by Marc C and Stephane F
Release Info:
BS-83852-1 La Fille A Oncle Elair (Uncle Elair's Daughter) | Bluebird 2191
BS-83853-1 Ils La Volet Mon Trancas | Bluebird 2191

Cajun Early Recordings (Important Swamp Hits Remastered) (JSP, 2004)

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"Blues de Basille" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

With songs like "Two Step de Eunice" and "Blues De Basille," (#531) accordionist Amede Ardoin, helped by his fiddle player and traveling companion Dennis McGee, became one of the first musicians to record Louisiana's Cajun music. Ardoin was an accordion virtuoso who, by all accounts, had an uncanny knack for improvising French lyrics with his strange high voice.1  Named after the town of Basile, Ardoin was no stranger to the "blues" that this town offered him,
One time they had a dance hall in Basile, and what saved him was some white guy who was learning how to play the guitar.  Somebody threw a big ol' rock--whoever done it wanted to hurt him bad--and the rock went through the guitar.4  

Oh comment je vas faire, catin,
Mais, ouais, ’tite fille je m’en vas à la maison tout seul,
Comment tu veux, dis, ouais, je peux faire, ’tite fille,
Si tes parents veulent pas, je te demanderais pas,
Dis, ouais, c’est toi, éou c’est tu veux je peux aller,
Mais, ouais, mon nèg, chaque fois que je vas pas c’ez toi.

Oh, mais, oui, catin; comment,
Si vous-autres peuvent faire m’en aller de toi, ’tite fille,
Moi, je te vois pas, c’est beaucoup rarement,
Je serais contente te rejoindre, te rejoindre, ’tite fille.

Oh, comment je vas faire, catin,
Dis ouais, je vas tout seul éoù c’est je vas aller,
Que tes parents veulent pas, comment je vas faire, tite fille.
Daily Advertiser
May 1, 1931

It's unlikely we'll ever know for certain what became of Ardoin. By some accounts, he wound up in a mental institution in Pineville, Louisiana. The only concrete evidence of this, however, is a death certificate issued May 30, 1941 from Pineville for a person named "Amelie Ardoin." And the certificate lists Ardoin as being 20 years older than he actually was at the time. Others say Ardoin eventually left Pineville and headed home.1  Music writer Tom Schnabel compares the song to his life and death,
Listening to it, I was reminded of a much more famous singer, the blues great Robert Johnson, who himself died of mysterious circumstances at age 27.  There is a great deal of myth surrounding Johnson’s life, as it’s been rumored that he was poisoned by a jealous girlfriend. Others say that he sold his soul to the devil in a faustian deal to become the greatest blues singer of all time. The latter story involved Johnson taking his guitar to Dockery Plantation at midnight to seal the deal, which turned out to be a meeting at the crossroads. The music of Ardoin and Johnson has a certain edge that captures the energy of their youth. Songs like Ardoin’s “Blues de Basile,” parallel the same piercing, exhortatory urgency of Johnson’s “Preaching Blues.”2  

Oh, how will I do this, pretty doll,

Well, yeah, little girl, I'm going to go home all alone,
What do you want, tell me, yeah, I can do this, little girl,
If your parents don't want, I won't demand,
Tell me, yeah, it's you, wherever you want, I can go,
Well, yeah, my friend, every time that I'm not going to you.

Oh, well, yes, pretty doll, how?
If you all can make me leave you, little girl,
I don't see you, it's very rarely,
I'll be happy to join you, to join you, little girl.

Oh, how will I do this, pretty doll,
Say yeah, I will go all by myself, where ever can I go,
That your parents do not want me, how will I do this, little girl.

Amede Ardoin

The common, accepted story is: While playing his accordion at a local farmhouse in Eunice, Louisiana, in the late 1930s, Creole musician Amede Ardoin wiped his brow with a handkerchief given to him by a white woman. Two white men angered by the exchange between Ardoin and the woman followed him outside, where they beat him, backed over him with a Ford Model A truck and threw him in a ditch. He woke up crippled, with permanent brain damage.1  Fellow musician Canray Fontenot remembers how that night changed his friend:

After that, "he didn't know whether he was hungry or not.... He was plumb crazy."1
In 2014, "Blues de Basille" crossed over, making it's appearance into the mainstream when it was recorded by jazz violinist Regina Carter on her album "Southern Comfort".3   

  4. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
Release Info:
NO-6719 Blues De Basille | Brunswick 531
NO-6720 La Valse A Thomas Ardoin | Brunswick 531

Pioneers of the Cajun Accordion (Arhoolie, 1989)
I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

"Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier" - Leo Soileau & Moise Robin

I Had Met You In The Fog!  Fiddler Leo Soileau was exposed to music at an early age. His father was an amateur fiddler who was very adept at playing many French Cajun songs.  By age 12, Leo, too, could ably handle a fiddle and bow and play the traditional music learned from his father.1  Leo recalled,
My papa and his brother would plough all day and come in and play music every night.  My papa used to take his fiddle out after supper.  I can see him now.2  

Moi, j'connais, moi j'ai vu, dans le brouillard, hier matin,
J'ai demandé à ton papa pourquoi tu viens pas à la maison.

Ton papa et ta maman z'é (?)m'as dit, malheureuse,
C'est trop jeune pour tu t'aimé avec ton neg', oh, yé yaille,
Quelles nouvelles que moi j'attends, chère 'tite fille, ça crève mon cœur,
Mais comment donc  moi j'vas faire, moi tout seul, malheureuse.

C'est la danse que j’étais z'avec toi, mais malheureuse. 
Mais (re)garde encore qui sont aprés faire avec nous autre aujourd'hui. 
Ecoute pas ton papa (et) de ta maman, oh, chere 'tite fille. 
Et tu vas venir dans la maison z'avec moi d'un jour à venir.

Moise Robin

Cajun musician Moise Robin was the second accordionist that Leo chose to work with.  The two began performing together in 1928, shortly after Soileau’s first partner, Mayeus LaFleur, was shot and killed.  During the summer and fall of 1929, they recorded for three different companies: Paramount, Victor, and Vocalion.  Together, they traveled to the Gennett Recording Studio, Starr Piano Company Building, Whitewater Gorge Park in Richmond, Indiana around July of 1929.  The session produced "Je T'ai Recontre Dans Le Brouillard" (#12908). The accordion melody could have been inspired by John Bertrand's "Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin", however, the vocals are unique on their own. Misspelled as "Je Te Recontrai de la Broulier", Moise sings of young girl chasing an older man, a song most likely self-composed.   Moise recalled,
I made the songs myself, when I was young. My dances and my tunes and my songs, I would write in French and understand my own language, you see. So I would compose my songs and write them down and practice them.4  

I know, I saw through the fog, yesterday morning,
I asked your dad why you didn't come home.

Your dad and your mom told me they're unhappy,
That's too young for you to be in love with an older man, oh yé yaille,
That news I awaited for, dear little girl, burst my heart,
Well, how am I going to make it all by myself, oh my.

This is the dance I had with you, well oh my,
Well, look who's still with us after another day,
Don't listen to your dad and your mom, oh dear little girl,
And come to the house with me another day in the future.

When the recording session was done, the engineers began producing the recordings on 78 RPM records.  Unfortunately, when it was time to press the previous song "La Valse De La Rue Canal", Paramount engineers mistakenly replaced it with audio of "Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier".   Today, the original Soileau and Robin recording of "La Valse De La Rue Canal" has yet to surface.  

  1. The Ville Platte Gazette (Ville Platte, Louisiana) 06 Feb 1969
  2. Times Picayune. Leo Soileau. 1975.
  3. Image courtesy of the Arhoolie Foundation

Release Info:
15345-A Ce Pas La Pienne Tu Pleur | Paramount 12908-A
15348-A Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier | Paramount 12908-B

The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (Yazoo, 2006)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

"Old Time Waltz" - Texas Melody Boys

Robert William "Pee Wee" Pitre was one of the single session Cajun recording artist of the early 1950s.  A native of Kinder, Louisiana, he was a radio entertainer and accordion player in Eunice.  He moved to Texas at some point after WWII and formed a group he referred to as the Texas Melody Boys. 

During his early years, Pitre worked along side Eddie Shuler's band and performed on his radio show.   Eventually, Shuler hosted a stage show where Pitre showed up as a one-man-band, dressed in blackface minstrel.2    

Oh, mignone, moi j'connais, tu va vieux nègre,
Tu va vieux nègre, mais, ça t'as fais dedans vieux nègre.

Eh, mignone, moi j'connais, tu va vieux nègre,
T'es misère, mais, mon tout seule à la maison,
Eh, catin, t'oublie faire, mais, ça t'as fais,
T'oublie faire, mais, ça t'as fais, dedans vieux nègre.

Liberty Vindicator
Jun 17th, 1954
Pee Wee moved to Texas where he worked alongside fiddler Ralph Richardson.  Ralph, originally from Lake Charles, heard Pee Wee playing on KPLC.  According to researcher Lyle Ferbrache,
He was happy go-lucky and was a very smooth dancer, drawing his friends to follow him from club to club. Pee Wee also had a record on his own Pee Wee label with fiddle player Ralph Richardson.1  

Pitre's reputation as a solo entertainer made the newspapers during a halftime football show on the field.  
"The second quarter saw Private Peewee Pitre, who was recently awarded a Hollywood contract which he plans to take up after the duration, amaze the crowd with songs, dances, and snappy patter. He scored heavily with musical imitations without instruments and tap danced his way to a touchdown as the half ended, with a glass of water balanced on his head."3  -Lake Charles American Press

Oh, cutie, I know you left, your old man,
You left your old man, well, what you've done to your old man.

Hey, cutie, I know you left your old man,
You are in misery, well, I'm all alone at home,
Hey, pretty doll, you've forgotten, well, what you've done,
You've forgotten, well, what you've done to your old man.

Pee Wee Pitre
"Old Time Waltz" (#500) turned out to be his rendition of the classic "Jolie Blonde", first recorded by the Amede Breaux.  Pitre's repertoire of accordion songs were quite limited according to the Vanicor family.  After Ellis and Orsy Vanicor agreed to accompany Pitre at a performance, he played the same songs over and over, forcing the dance feel long and tiresome.  Fiddler Wilson Granger shared the same experience with Pitre and his antics.

Pee Wee Pitre was slick. When we’d play, like at the Shamrock Club. He’d come there about 10, 11 o’clock. He’d say (motioning toward a distant table),  “A bunch of people over there asked me to play ‘Jolie Blonde’ for them.” He was lying, but we’d let him play it.4   

I went there one night to play music with him. Bill Mott was playing accordion with Pitre that night. He wouldn’t give us a chance to tune our music. He’d make us play whether we were ready or not. He was slick. He could talk himself into anything.4 

  1. Post War Cajun 78 RPM Nuggets - Blues & Rhythm. Lyle Ferbrache. 2014. 
  2. The Eunice News Eunice, Louisiana · Friday, November 29, 1946
  3. "Cajun Dancehall Heyday" by Ron Yule
  4. Interview with Wilson Granger. Andrew Brown. 2005.
Release Info:
Ain’t No More | Khoury's 500 A
Old Time Waltz | Khoury's 500 B

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

"Chinaball Special" - Veteran Playboys

Hailing form the same Pointe Noire area west of Church Point that produced the remarkable Lejeune clan of singers and musicians, Alphée Bergeron had played before the war (including alongside Amede Ardoin and Mayuse Lafleur), but like many of his contemporaries, he had put aside his accordion for two reasons: first, because he felt he should tend to the serious business of raising his family and second, because accordion driven Cajun music had faded from the scene.  In the years following WWII, many were growing uncomfortable with the widespread loss of ethnic identity caused by social stigmatization.  Legendary Cajun musicians such as Iry Lejeune, Lawrence Walker, Austin Pitre and Aldus Roger launched a renaissance of Cajun music culture.  Another of these pioneers was Alphée Bergeron.2 

Hé, jolie petite blonde, j'aimais tant, 
Oh, petite mignonne pour moi, 
Hé, pour faire donc toi t'as eu pour me quitter moi comme ça.

Hé, 'tite fille, mais gardez donc de ma maison, 
Hé, mignonne,(je) m'ennuie de toi, 
Hé, pour faire donc je pourrai pas te revoir une fois encore.

Hé, petite, moi j'voudrais, mais, te demander, 
Oh, c'est bien éyou t'as été?, 
Ouais, parce que moi je suis misérable quand je vais à Duralde asteure.  

Shirley Bergeron, Bill Matte, Adam Hebert,
Raymond Lafleur, Alphee Bergeron,
Wallace Lafleur
In 1947, the musical climate had changed. He dusted off his instrument and formed his aplty-named Veteran Playboys.  He teamed up with fiddler Adam Hebert, a veteran himself, in 1948 in which they recorded the "Chinaball Special" (#1012), named after a dance-hall they frequented called the Chinaball Club in Bristol, Louisiana.  It featured a melody commonly associated with the song "B.O. Sparkle" by Leroy Broussard.  According to author and collector, Lyle Ferbrache,
This is truly one of the great post-war records. It was the first super group of Cajun music.  Adam Hebert sings and plays fiddle with  Alphée Bergeron playing accordion.  Alphée's son, Shirley Bergeron, Bill Matte and Raymond Lafleur played in this great band as well.  In time, all the members went on to their own successes.1   


Alphee Bergeron

Hey, pretty little blond, I loved so much,
Oh, little cutie for me,
Hey, so what's done, you had to leave me like that.

Hey, little girl, well, so look, I'm home,
Hey, cutie, I miss you.
Hey, so what's done, I won't be able to see you again.

Hey, little one, I would like, well, to ask you,
Oh, it's good wherever you are?
Yeah, because I am miserable when I go to Duralde, right now. 

Alphée gave up farming after Hurricane Audrey wiped out his crops in 1957.  However, he was still able to make a living as a musician and continued to play music alongside Adam Hebert and Bill Matte.  

Adam Hebert
Hebert was a gifted song writer whose music is at the center of traditional Cajun repertoire.  Adam constructed his first fiddle as a child out of a chocolate box and screen wire, later progressing to one his brother made out of a cigar box and horse hair. When his father overheard him playing for his sister and her beau in the parlor, he realized Adam's talent and ordered a real violin out of the Montgomery Ward catalog.  Adam, then began playing hose dances at age 13 and later recalled how he approached singing,

Some musicians just count from their mouth when they sing, they just speak. I approach my music not from my mouth, it comes straight from my heart.3  

Alphée continued to play in bands until the the 1970s and quit when he got sick.  His son Shirley, who was also an accomplished musician, stated,
Daddy was a very comical fellow and very serious at his work as a farmer. He was a hard working accordion player at the dance jobs. He played until he got physically unable to keep up But his music lives on through the records.  His music is still popular.4  

  1. Post War Cajun 78 RPM Nuggets – Lyle Ferbrache
  2. Barry J. Ancelet.  The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 17 Sep 1997
  3. Adam Hebert.  The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 12 Oct 2010
  4. Daily World (Opelousas, Louisiana ) 12 Apr 1991
  5. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
Eunice Waltz | Fais-Do-Do F1012
Chinaball Special| Fais-Do-Do F1012

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

Saturday, October 8, 2022

"Grand Mamou" - Nathan Abshire

While he mirrored the midcentury infatuation with country-flavored honky-tonk music—fiddle-driven and slide-guitar-embellished—Nathan Abshire later helped lead a resurgence of more traditionally crafted Cajun music with the sound of the old-time button accordion reinstalled at its center. This was the music that had fueled both bals des maisons (house parties) and fais do-dos (weekend dances) in the old days.2   

After the war, Nathan's big break came when Ernest Thibodeaux and Wilson Granger convinced the Avalon Club owner, Quincy Davis, that the band needed an accordion player.   Wilson recalled:
That’s where I met him, when I started playing with him. I had heard of him. I know he was from Riceville. Nathan didn’t know much of anything. When they (Quincy Davis) went and got him to play music, he was fixing stoves. Cooking stoves. You know, there’s not a big business in fixing stoves.  Davis had him on the radio five days a week. He got very popular.1   

Eh, mais, t'en aller à grand Mamou,
C'est pour voir les belles 'tites blondes, mais, malheureux.

Eh, jolie 'tite fille, criminelle,
M'a quitte pour t'en aller z-avec vaurien,
Moi je te souhaite tout le malheur que tu peux avoir,
Tu connais j'mérite pas ça, mais, t'après faire. 

It wouldn't be long before Quincy found record label owner Virgil Bozman and convinced him to record Nathan and his band to help promote his Pine Grove Club near Jennings.  Bozman took advantage of this agreement and recorded at least ten songs for his Oklahoma Tornadoes label, starting in May of 1949 at the local KPLC radio station in Lake Charles.  One of these songs was the popular 1935 Leo Soileau tune called "Grand Mamou" (#106). It was a song that Leo had recorded earlier as "Basile" with Mayuse Lafleur in 1928.
Nathan Abshire
Trent Oubre Studio

His band during this recording is believed to have consisted of Will Kegley on fiddle, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Jim Baker on bass, and special vocalist Roy Broussard.  After the OT recordings were produced, many musicians began comparing his style to the more popular  Cajun accordionist Iry Lejeune.  When Nathan's first fiddler, Wilson Granger, was asked to compare his style against Iry Lejeune, he stated:
Nathan played the smoothest accordion, in my opinion, than anybody else.  Iry was a hell of an accordion player.   He could play two-steps like nobody else. But Nathan was easier to follow than Iry, put it that way.1  

Hey, well, you're going to big Mamou,
It's to see the pretty little blondes, well, oh my.

Hey, pretty little girl, it's terrible,
I'm leaving for you went away with a scoundrel,
I wish you all the misfortune you can have,
You know I didn't deserve that, well, what you're doing.

Nathan continued to record, and travel, into his later years.  In 1970, he and the Balfa Brothers performed "Grand Mamou" during a Cajun concert in New York City. 

  1. Wilson Granger interview. Andrew Brown. 2005.
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
106-A Grand Mamou | OT 106-A
106-B Lake Charles Two Step | OT 106-B

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