Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Jole Blon's Gone" - Harry Choates

Harry Choates gained early professional experience playing in the Cajun bands of Leo Soileau and Leroy Leblanc, then split off to form his own group called the Melody Boys in 1946.  In 1949, George Khoury, who saw the need for more Cajun music decided to help Virgel Bozman finance a new label called "O.T. Records" named after his band.

T'as perdu, m’a jolie blonde.

T'as perdu, m’a jolie blonde.

Elle m'a laissé pour s'en aller,
S'en partir, m’a jolie blonde.

On se connait mais chère petite
Quoi t'as fait, ça fait pitié,                                                       
Tu m’as laissé pour t'en aller,
L'as perdu ma jolie blonde.

Hey, je mérite pas ça,
Pourquoi t'as fait vilaines manières,
Mais moi je connais, faudra pas longtemps,
À partir ma chère jolie blonde.

Harry Choates
Not content to stick with Gold Star, Virgil persuaded Harry to write a swingy, sequel tune called "Jole Blon's Gone" (#107).  Recorded either June or July in 1949, it was recorded at KPLC radio station studio in Lake Charles, Louisiana and consisted of Harold "Popeye" Broussard on piano, B.D. Williams on bass, and Crawford Vincent on drums. However, Choates never gained the same success he did with his earlier hit.  Broven mentions: 
Khoury was [Virgel's] sponsor, so to speak, because he didn't have that much money.  He was a good salesman, he had a log of gab because being a cowhorn salesman he had to have a log of gab.  

Choates remained with the Melody Boys from 1946 to 1951. The Melody Boys disbanded over Choates' chronic problems with alcoholism and his frequent missed concert dates. In 1951, Choates was found to be in contempt of court for failing to pay his support payments for his children. He spent three days in prison, at which time he began hitting his head against the bars of his jail cell, eventually knocking himself into a coma. 

You've left, my pretty blonde,

You've left, my pretty blonde,

She left me to go away,
Get going, my pretty blonde.

We know each other, well, dear little one,
What you did, it's pitiful,
You left me to go away,
She's left, my pretty blonde.

Hey, I do not deserve this,
For you have wretched ways,
Well, I know it won't be long,
My pretty blond's leaving me.

Based in Westlake, Louisiana, this label would record famous Cajun artists including Nathan Abshire and Floyd Leblanc. Both Khoury and Bozeman produced the first recording of Abshire's "Pine Grove Blues", recorded at KPLC radio station in Lake Charles.   The O.T. label only produced 14 records that are known to exist.  The O.T. label would move to San Antonio and was run by James Bryant and Bennie Hess.  However, O.T. suddenly dried up.  Bozeman returned to San Antonio, Texas where he set up the Hot Rod label with local record man Bob Tanner of T.N.T. records. 

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Jasinski, Laurie E (February 22, 2012). Handbook of Texas Music (2nd ed.).
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F
  4. Image by Museum of the Gulf Coast
Cajun Honky Tonk: Khoury Recordings (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
The Beginner's Guide to Cajun Music (Proper/Primo, 2008)

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Mercredi Soir Passé (Last Wednesday Night)" - Blind Uncle Gaspard

In 1929, the blind singer/guitarist Alcide Gaspard would have been in his 40s when he made his only recordings.  The connection between Gaspard and the fiddle player/singer Delma Lachney is a clear one - the former played guitar on the latter's records (although interestingly, Lachney played no fiddle on Gaspard's, recorded at the same session). 

Éyou t’es Mercredi passé,

Oh après boire tout ce vin doux,
Et après charrer avec une jolie fille,
Qu'a pris mon cœur à moi.

Viens, ma chère, casse pas mon cœur,
Oh, je veux pas d’entendre pleurer,
Trois semaine, chère, il faudra prepare(r),
Pour séparé mon et toi,

Eux voudrais j’aurais jamais mis,
Oh, quand j’étais petit,
J’aurais jamais des larmes asteur,
Pour ce chère jolie fille.

Qui, qui va te mettre tes souliers, ma chère?
Ou qui va te mettre tes chers tit gants?
Qui qui va embrasser tes petit joues?
Quand moi je serai loin de toi.

Oh écoute, j'attend char qui vient,
Oh, il faut j’vas prendre mon ticket,
Tu connais c’est dur pour me séparer,
Mais j’vas m'battre pour toi et mon pays.

Ouais, ma chère, c'est beaucoup dur. 
Je crois il faut te quitter, 
Et te quitter et pour la mort,
Et pour toujours je t'aime.

Uncle Blind Gaspard
"Mercredi Soir Passe" (#5281) is a real mixture - the tune has a bluesy feel to it, but notably French Cajun characteristics as well, while the notes tell us that the lyric features age-old motifs.  Gaspard's guitar accompaniment is no more than a rudimentary strum, although he creates quite an interesting and pleasing effect by ending each section on a major chord.  The word "asteur" is a corrupted form of the phrase "à c't'heure" or "à cette heure", meaning now.  Today, "asteur" is considered an archaic term in most of France, however, still used in other regional languages and dialects, such as Picard in particular (northern France).4   

Crowley Daily Signal
Feb 22, 1929

Where were you last Wednesday?

Oh, after drinking all that sweet wine,

And after chatting with a pretty girl,

That had taken my heart from me.

Come, my dear, don't break my heart,
Oh, I do not want to hear you cry,
Three weeks, dear, requires preparation,
Separated, me and you.

They wish I'd never,
Oh, when I was little,
I'll never have tears now,
For this dear pretty girl. 

Who will put on your little shoes, my dear?
Or who will get your dear little gloves?
Who will kiss your little cheeks?
When I'm away from you.

Oh, listen, I'm waiting for the ride coming,
Oh, I must take my ticket,
You know it's hard for me to leave,
But I will fight for you and my country.

Yeh, my dear, it's very hard,
I think we must leave you,
And I will leave you and die,
And I'll always love you.

Between 1964 and 1967, Ralph Rinzler, supported by the Newport Folk Foundation, came to Louisiana recording a series of field recordings, including Edius Naquin who resurrected the tune entitled as "Où T'étais Mercredi Passé".

  2. Louisiana Cajun and Creole Music: The Newport Field Recordings.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F and Smith S
  4. Discussions with Stef Fan-Ni


John Bertrand / Blind Uncle Gaspard / Delma Lachney Early American Cajun Music (Yazoo, 1999)
Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Music, The Pretty Girls Don't Want Me (Firefly, 2012)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)
Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney ‎– On The Waters Edge (Mississippi, 2014)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"La Valse de Bayou Teche" - Nathan Abshire

During Nathan Abshire's early years, song melodies travelling through south Louisiana became Cajun music standards; many of them re-written by Nathan himself.  This particular melody was originally recorded by the Segura Brothers as "My Sweetheart Run Away".   According to the duo, the song was mislabeled.  Nathan's title may have come from a similar tune recorded by Bixy Guidry entitled "La Valse Du Bayou", Leo Soileau's "La Valse A Moreau", Joe Falcon's "Je Suis Se Seul", and the Breaux Brothers "La Valse De Pins". 

J’ai roulé, j’ai prié, mais, pour t'avoir chere,

Pour t'voir, mais, dans mes bras, mais, temps à temps,

J’ai chassée jus pour voir ayou te tes, ye’aille,

Aussi loin malheurse de ton famille.

Mon beau frere vien donc ma voir j'aller morir, chere, 

Aller morir à Bayou Teche, mon beau frere,
Ta famille est tout contre moi, j’voir pas, chere, 
Comment j’vas faire mon aussi loin, malheurse.
Bayou Teche
Nathan would take the Segura melody and record it for Khoury with the title "La Valse de Bayou Teche" (#612) in 1951.  According to Lyle Ferb, the vocals would not be Nathan but his fiddle player, Will Kegley.  The band consisted of Nathan on accordion, Will Kegley on fiddle and vocals, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Jim Baker on bass, and Ozide Kegley on drums. In Nathan's version, a lover is longing to see her beloved brother-in-law once more before dying near the Bayou Teche.

The origins of the name teche are uncertain. One hypothesis is that it comes from "tenche", a Chitimacha Indian word meaning "snake", related to the bayou's twists and turns resembling a snake's movement. Alternatively, it may be a French rendering of Deutsch, the name by which the German colonists of the area would have named their stream.  It's importance in Cajun culture cannot be overstated.  During the time of the Acadian migration to what was then known as the Attakapas region, the Teche was the primary means of transportation.  During the American Civil War, fighting occurred on Bayou Teche in 1862.

I ran around, I prayed to see you, dear,

To see you in my arms from time to time.

I searched to see where you've been, oh,

You're too far, oh my, from your family.

Brother-in-law, come see me, I'm dying, dear,

I'm going to die at the Bayou Teche, brother-in-law,
Your family is against me, I can't see you, dear,
How am I going to make it so far away, oh my.

Later, Nathan would leave Khoury's seemingly failing label and bring a resurgence of his music with Floyd Soileau's label Swallow Records.   

Reenactment of the Arrival of the Acadians
on the Bayou Teche
His lyrics for the song had changed over the years, constantly being refined until the Swallow recording; becoming one of the most popular version of the lyrics.  There, he would re-record his Bayou Teche Waltz in 1968 and then again later for La Louisiane Records in 1973. Here are the 1968 lyrics:
J’ai roulé, j’ai prié pour t’avoir chère,
Pour t’avoir (z)avec moi à la maison.
Ta famille est tout contre moi, moi j’vois pas,
Moi j’vois pas ayou j’peux aller pour te r’joindre.

J’ai roulé, j’ai prié pour t’avoir chère,
Pour t’avoir (z)avec moi à la maison.
Mon beau-frère, mon beau-frère viens donc m’voir
Viens donc m’voir, c’est de mourir à Bayou Teche.

  1. Lyrics by Jerry M
Release Info:
La Valse De Bayou Tech | Khoury's K-612-A
Iota Two Step | Khoury's K-612-B

Nathan Abshire & the Pine Grove Boys - French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"The Kingdom of Zydeco" by Michael Tisserand

If you like this material and want more, be sure to check out "The Kingdom of Zydeco" by Michael Tisserand.

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

"Valse Des Opelousas" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

Amédé Ardoin and Dennis McGee, one a black Creole, the other a white Cajun, braved a nation intent on segregation to perform and record together openly.3  During a New Orleans session for Brunswick in 1930, they laid down several tracks including one about a town north of Lafayette called "Valse Des Opelousas" (#559). It would be one of the last Cajun recording sessions before Cajun recording ceased due to the Depression.

Shown here is a re-issue in which Brunswick entitled the batch of releases "Collectors Series".  According to record producer Chris King, it’s possible most of Ardoin’s songs are about one person: the girl to whom he was betrothed, or about to be betrothed—the most profound romantic fascination of his young life. Theirs was a shotgun-to-the-temple, unbearable, drive-it-like-it’s-stolen love, uncompromising and insane. Something went wrong. They never married. According to “Valse Des Opelousas,” she left, crying. “Oh, tite fille, si tu m’aimerais comme t’as voulu me dire / Tu te sentirais pas déçue pour ça ils sont après te dire,” Ardoin sings after her. Oh, little girl, if you loved me as much as you said, you wouldn’t feel so disappointed by what they’re telling you.
Daily Advertiser
May 17, 1947

O, jolie, comment je vas faire, tu m'abandonnes,

O, 'tit monde, qui je vas faire, 'tite fille.

O, holie, comment je vas faire, Madeleine,

Moi, j'ai connu mais ton papa et ta maman,

Ouais, ça veut pas catin, ça veut pas moi je vas,

Ouais, donc, chez toi, je vas faire plaisir à tes parents.

O, 'tite fille, si tu m'aimerais, comme t'as voulu me dire.

Si ça serais pas dessus les rapportages ils sont après te dire.

O, catin, tu devrais toi, te rappeller, jolie,

Quand t'étais c'ez toi, tu vas quitter moi, tout seul,

O, 'tite fille, t'as passé dimanche après midid,

T'as passé me donner ta main, t'as partie en pleurant.

O, tite fille, mon je t'ai dit je m'aurais jamais marié,

O, c'est toi la porte de voir ça t'avais fait avec moi.

King explains: 
In my understanding of that culture, in that particular time period, because it was so intensely Catholic and superstitious, you got married, and you didn’t get a new wife or husband until the other one died. The same stigma was attached to betrothal.
Ardoin’s romantic outlook, from then on, was grim. The way King figured it, 
There was a woman for you, and if you didn’t get that one, well, you know, you were just fucked.
Amede Ardoin
Because he couldn’t have her, Ardoin sang to her, over and over again. I imagine her as the kind of beautiful that makes your stomach hurt: sweet-faced and long-legged and a little mischievous around the eyes, too smart for her own good. King likes to think that Ardoin sang to her with the hope that she’d eventually hear his prayers and adjurations—that he believed he could, in effect, sing her back to his side. He was clearly ready to die trying. “Oh, tite fille, moi, j’ai dit je m’aurais jamais marié / Oh, c’est rapport de voir ça t’as fait avec moi,” he sighs at the end of “Valse Des Opelousas,” his body gutted, his voice tired. Oh, little girl, I said I would never marry. Oh, it’s because of seeing what you’ve done to me.

Oh, pretty girl, what am I going to do, you're leaving me.
Oh, my little world, what can I do, little girl.

Oh, pretty girl, what am I going to do, Madeline,
I knew your father and your mother,
Yes, they didn't want, little doll, didn't want me to go,
Yes, to your house, so I'll please your parents.

Oh, little girl, if you had loved me like you wanted to tell me,
If it just hadn't been for all those stories they were telling you.

Oh, little doll, you must remember, pretty one,
When you were at your house, you were going to leave me all alone.
Oh, little girl, you passed by on Sunday,
You passed to give me your hand, but you left crying.

Oh, little girl, I told you I'd never marry,
Oh, you're the reason, seeing what you've done to me.
After moving to Eddie Shuler's label, Iry used the tune for his "La Valse de Bayou Chene" in 1952.  It's influences can be found in Aldus Roger's "Duson Waltz" and Austin Pitre's "St. Landry Waltz".

  2. I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco - Amédé Ardoin.  Liner notes.
  4. NOTE: Cajun Country, Vol. 2 (JSP, 2005) listing is mis-titled
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 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times" By by Janet Allured and Judith F. Gentry

If you like this material and want more, be sure to check out "Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times" By by Janet Allured and Judith F. Gentry.


Barnes and Noble 
Books A Million
University of Georgia Press

"Jolie Blonde" - Hackberry Ramblers

Based on Breaux brother's "Ma Blonde Est Partie", it's the first recording to use the title "Jolie Blonde" with the traditional melody rendition.   It's one of the few, if only, early Cajun recordings with "fiddlesticks"-type percussion occurring midway into the song.
Jolie Blonde, 'gardez donc, quoi t'as fait

Tu m'as quitté pour t'en aller

Pour t'en aller avec un autre, oui, que moi

Quel espoir et quel av'nir mais moi je peux avoir?

Jolie blonde, tu m'as quitté pour tout seul

Pour t'en aller chez ta famille

Si t'aurais pas écouté tous les conseils de les autres

Tu serais ici avec moi aujourd'hui.

Jolie blonde, tu croyais il y avait juste toi

Il y'a pas juste toi dans le pays pour moi aimer

Je va's trouver juste une autre jolie blonde

Bon Dieu sait, moi, j'aime tant.
Floyd Rainwater, Luderin Darbone,
Lonnie Rainwater, Lennis Sonnier

In 1936, the Hackberry Ramblers, consisting of Luderin Darbone, Edwin Duhon, Johnny Puderer and guitarist/vocalist Lennis Sonnier, recorded their hit rendition of the Louisiana classic "Jolie Blonde" (#2003) for Bluebird records. Joined by Sonnier, they began playing at parties. Cajun had been dominated by the accordion so, Darbone said:
"We didn't know how people would react - we were there to play their dance with only a fiddle and two guitars, but to our amazement, we were a smashing success."

Pretty blonde, look at what you've done,

You left me and went away,

You went away with someone else, yeh,

What hope, what future, yeh, can I have?

Pretty blonde, you left me all alone,

To leave with your family,

If you had not listened to the advice of others,

You would be here with me today.

Pretty blonde, you thought you were the only one,

You're not the only one in the countryside for me to love,

I will find another pretty blonde,

God knows, there's a lot out there to love. 
Through live shows and broadcasts, the Ramblers' new string band sound spread across the Cajun community. Darbone bought one of the first sound systems in the region; if he was booked into a rural dancehall with no electricity, he ran it from his car.

By 1940s, the group had disbanded but reformed again under Luderin's leadership in 1946.  Harry Choates had just scored a huge hit with "Jole Blon".   The following year, they were contacted by DeLuxe records where they re-recorded their tune, using Harry's title "Jole Blon" and also performing an English version called "Pretty Blonde".   They would record the tune several times in the following years including "Jolie Blonde" in 1963 for Arhoolie records at Goldband studio in Lake Charles.  They also performed it live at the 8th Univ of California, Berkeley Folk Festival in 1965.  


Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 4: From The 30s To The 50s (Old Timey, 1972)
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 8: The Hackberry Ramblers - Early Recordings 1935-1948 (Old Timey, 1988)
Le Gran Mamou: A Cajun Music Anthology (Country Music, 1994)
Jole Blon - 23 Artists One Theme (Bear, 2002)
Hackberry Ramblers - Early Recordings: 1935-1950 (Arhoolie, 2003)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)