Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Country Gentleman" - Abe Manuel

Abe Manuel came from a musical family around Lake Charles with legacy tied to Harry Choates and his Melody Boys.    Abe played Cajun music on guitar with his family and friends around Basile and Oberlin for years, and at some point in his youth took up the fiddle.  His brother Joe helped form the band in the 1940s and Abe was old enough to be a part of it.  Either during his recording stint with Harry Choates or right afterwards, he met up with Virgil Bozman and his OT label but quickly found other independent labels that enjoyed recording his music.

Jeunes gens de la campagne,

Marriez donc jamais vous-autres,

Une fille c'est une amusée,
Mais une femme c'est un embarras.

Jeunes gens de la campagne,
Écoutez donc z-un bon conseil,
Une fille c'est une amusée,
Bien une femme c'est un déshonneur.

Jeunes gens de la campagne,
Marriez donc jamais vous-autres,
Une fille c'est une amusée,
Mais une femme c'est un embarras.

Jeunes gens de la campagne,
Écoutez donc z-un bon conseil,
Une fille c'est une amusée,
Bien une femme désagréable.

KLFY TV Station, 1966
Happy Fats' "Boiled Crawfish" TV show
Abe Manuel Sr. (bottom right)

His first recording stint came with backing up Jelly Elliot in 1949 however, by 1954, he had formed his own group called the Louisiana Hillbillies.  Recorded in 1954, "Country Gentleman" (#1086) is a swingy, hillbilly version of the old melody "Jeunes Gens de la Campagne (Young Men From The Country)". It was first recorded by Dennis McGee & Ernest Fruge in 1929 and had been the original source for Joe Falcon's 1928 recording of "Allons A Lafayette".

Young gentlemen of the countryside,

Never get married,

A girl is playful,
But, a wife is a bother.

Young gentlemen of the countryside,
Listen to good advice,
A girl is playful,
Well, a wife is dishonorable. 

Young gentlemen of the countryside,
Never get married,
A girl is playful,
But, a wife is a bother.

Young gentlemen of the countryside,
Listen to good advice,
A girl is playful,
Well, a wife is disagreeable. 

For years, Abe would travel around Louisiana and Texas, singing both country and Cajun tunes, working with a slew of different musicians, even with Hank Williams. He recalls:
Working with Hank Williams was something else, particularly the night in 1948 when he kicked out the front windshield of my Buick after we'd finished playing a date down in Louisiana.  Hank had been drinking. He kicked out my window, but he never let liquor cause him to not finish a song or performance.  If he showed up, he did the songs right.1  

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  2. Lyrics by Stéphanie D, Stephane F and Marc C
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Rosalia" - Eddie Segura & Didier Hebert

As Columbia/Okeh was looking for other artists for it's Cajun music lineup in 1928, the company placed an advertisement in the local papers across south Louisiana and Texas.  According player Dewey Segura discovered this ad during a whiskey run and convinced his brother Eddie to record with him in New Orleans that year.   "Herbert" is believed to be Didier Gabriel Hebert born around New Iberia about 1901. He was a blind guitarist from Louisiana who accompanied them on the three songs and recorded a solo song, "I Woke Up One Morning in May", during the same session.  Together, they recorded "Rosalia" (#40512) for Columbia records.

Dewey's family were musicians. His mother and older sister Anita played accordion as did most of his brothers.  Dewey wasn't greatly influenced by them, however, he taught himself to play music, first the harmonica and then the accordion - the latter by sneaking practice session on Anita's instrument, which at first, he was "ashamed to play".1

Oh Rosalie, 

Mais, t'en as fait, mais, quand t'as visité, Lord, Lord Lord,

Depuis que t'as l'age de quatorze ans t'as poisonné mon cœur.

Eh p'tit nèg, est ton dans lit qui sont poisonné,

Je vais les voir aller-ler dans la coulée, Rosalia.

Quand j'ai quitté la maison pour m'en aller si loin de toi,

J'ai été voir la belle, j'l'ai trouvé, jolie, malade,

Moi, j'ai dis, ça fait de la peine de quitter le lit,

Mais, je suis obligé de partir, mais moi tout seul, chérie.
Dewey and Eddie Segura

The verse "est ton dans lit qui sont poisonné" is a strange phrase as reference to being poisoned by someone and becoming bedridden.   Others have suggested it's the bed itself which has poisoned the person.  

The song has a slow, bluesy accordion feel with a similar style yell in which Amede Ardoin used on "Les Blues De Crowley", "Blues De Basile" and in Nathan Abshire's "French Blues".  It would also be re-released on Okeh's 90000 "Arcadian French" series.

Later, in 1929, Dewey, along with Didier Hebert on guitar and Dewey on accordion and vocals, would record three more songs. The musicians would be labeled as "E. Segura & D. Herbert" on the records, however, Columbia credited Dewey's recording to "E. Segura", probably confusing him with his brother.

Oh, Rosalia,

Well, what you've done, well, when you visited, Lord, Lord, Lord,

Since the age of fourteen, you've tainted my heart. 

Hey little one, is it your bed that poisoned you,

I'm going to see them go into the stream, Rosalia.

When I left home to go so far away from you,

I went to see this beautiful one, I found her sick,

I tell you, it hurts to leave the bedside,

Well, I have to leave, well, all by myself, dear.

The tune would later become the focus of several blues tunes including "Le Crepe A Nasta" in 1937 by Happy Fats, "Hoola Hoop Two Step" by Nathan Abshire",  "Le Crepe A Nazaire" by Shirley Bergeron, "Coulee Rodair" by Canray Fontenot and "Le 'Tit Negre a Tante Dolie" by Ambrose Thibodeaux.

  1. Old Time Music.  No. 40, Winder 1984. 
  2. Label scan by University of Louisiana at Lafayette Cajun and Creole Music Collection - Special Collections
  3. Lyrics by Stéphanie D, Stephane F and Jerry M

Release Info:
W111392-2 Rosalia | Columbia 40512-F
W111393-2 Your Small And Sweet | Columbia 40512-F

W111392-2 Rosalia | Okeh 90012
W111393-2 Your Small And Sweet | Okeh 90012

Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do (Legacy/Columbia, 1994)
Cajun Origins (Catfish, 2001)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Dans La Louisiane" - Vin Bruce

Ervin Joseph “Vin” Bruce who got his start with country and rockabilly, grazed the genre of Cajun music with tunes such as "Fille De La Ville".  Even though Columbia had shy-ed away from the style after 1929, Bruce would bring the label as close as possible back to Cajun music by singing about Louisiana life, similar to contemporaries such as Moon Mullican, Gene Rodrigue, Lou Millet, and others. In 1951, Vin would score a contract and several months later, in 1952, he traveled to Nashville, TN to record the tune "Dans La Louisianne (In Louisiana)" for Columbia (#20923).

Oh, chère ‘tite fille, moi qui t’aime oui autant,

Oh, chère ‘tite fille t’es tout le temps avec moi,

Un jour à l’avenir, tu vas voir ça j’te dis,

J’vais t’après t’espérer dedans la Louisiane.

J’ai demandé à ton père, pour te marier,
J’ai demandé à ta mère, pour te marier,
Ils m’ont répondu : tu peux la prendre
Si tu te maries dedans la Louisiane.

La bague que j’t’achète, oui me coûte plein d’l’argent,
La bague que j’t’achète, c’est pour toi, oui tout l’temps,
Une chose que j’veux t’dire si jamais qu’tu t’en vas,
J’vais t’après t’espérer dedans la Louisiane.
Vin Bruce & Zeke Clement

Vin's vocals were backed by Grady Martin on mandolin, possibly Harold Bradley "Shot" Jackson on steel guitar, Owen Bradley on piano, and Tommy Jackson on fiddle.  Unlike most Cajun musicians that grew up in the prairies, Vin grew up on the river and it showed in his music.  Those who did stay on the river are different musically. Though a French singer, Bruce's music is distinctly not Cajun.  According to author Barry Ancelet:
"Their music is remarkably different, less historically influenced by the accordion, more string oriented, more country sounding,"1

Oh, dear little girl, me whom, I love you so much,

Oh, dear little girl, you're with me all the time,

One day in the future, you'll see, I'm telling you,

I expect you'll be in Louisiana.

I asked your father to marry you,
I asked your mother to marry you,
They said "You can take her",
"If I marry you in Louisiana".

The ring I bought you, yeh, it cost me lots of money,
The ring I bought you, it's for you, yeh, forever,
One thing I wanna tell you, if ever you leave me,
I expect you'll stay in Louisiana.

  1. http://theind.com/article-16337-l'effet-papillon.html

Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
The Beginner's Guide to Cajun Music (Proper/Primo, 2008)
The Best Of Cajun & Zydeco (Not Now, 2010)
Vin Bruce: King of Cajun Music: Dans la Louisianne (Bear Family, 2011)
Vin Bruce: Vintage Cajun Classics of the 1950's (Vintage Masters, 2012)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Pestauche Ah Tante Nana (The Peanut Song)" - Sidney Brown

Inspired by the response to Iry Lejeune's records, Eddie Shuler became more involved in recording Cajun music in the 50s.  Before Sidney Brown began making accordions, he had a successful career recording music.  With his Traveler Playboys, in 1953, they would record the "Peanut Song", also known as "Pestauche Ah Tante Nana" (#1061) for Goldband.
S’en aller chez Nonc’ 'Tave,
Ça plante la belle récolte,
Du coton et du maïs,
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.

C’est ça qu’est si bon,
Grillé à dans l’bas du "stove",
Le temps mouillasseux,
La pistache à Tante Nana.

Ils est belle et si mignonne,
Tu dis on l'aime autant, 
Ses ça j'ai t'en aller, 
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.

S’en aller chez Nonc’ Charles,
Ça plante la belle récolte
Du coton et du maïs,
Et la pistache à Tante Nana.
This is an old song about a happy farmer whos peanuts produced three nuts instead of the usual two.  Since the peanut was an American plant, the new French colonists could only compare it to a pistachio or pistache. Later, the new name cachouette was added to the French vocabulary, but here in Louisiana the peanut is still called pistache by the Cajuns.6

Originally titled "La Pistache à Trois Nana" or possibly "La pistache à quatre nanan", it was apparently a much older tune.  Brown changed it to Tante Nana, making it difficult to fully appreciate the lyrics.   It's quite possible what is "beautiful and small" is actually referring to her.  According to musician and accordion builder, Bryan L:
[There's] lot's of odd references (along with sexual innuendos) in these old songs, I imagine a lot of it was personal inside jokes. Many say the song was supposed to be "le pistache a trois nana", which is a 3 nut peanut (pistachio), supposedly referencing a quality peanut. A sly word twist refers to poor Aunt Nana.
Sidney Brown
According to musician Jesse Lege:
The original & ancient version where this song comes from was "La Pistache à Quatre Nanan".... "nanan" being a word for the nut actually.5

One may ask "What innuendo?"  Asking around, one may get different answers. According to Cajun French speakers around Louisiana, the term has an even crasser meaning:
Pistache a Tante Nana is actually derogatory for a woman's private part. That would get you slapped in the old days.
We used to sing [Pistache] as kids to be bad. That and the other perversions of the song "Colinda", which I will not post in mixed company.
Still, others had a different interpretation:
Pistache is not just used for peanut or the vulgar sense of the word. It was also used as a term of endearment. Still is actually. It opens the door to "innuendo".
I don't think [Sidney] meant it that way but that is how some Cajun's took it.  All you need to know is that the aunt had the sweetest peanut. You know how men are. We make anything sound like what we want it to be.
Even one of Sidney's godchildren recalls the song:
The change of wording was no accident; it was Sidney's sense of humor.4 
She said it always embarrassed her, but she had a copy of the record!
Going home to Uncle Octave's,
Planting the beautiful harvest,
Of the cotton and corn,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.

That's what's so so good,
Grilled at the bottom of the stove.
The weather is drizzly,
The peanuts of Aunt Nana.

They are beautiful and small,
You say we love them so much,
That's why I'm going,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.

Going home to uncle Charles,
Planting the beautiful harvest,
Of the cotton and corn,
And the peanuts of Aunt Nana.
Either way, it didn't change the song's popularity.  Eddie Shuler released the tune fairly late in 1957.   With possibly Louis "Vinesse" Lejeune on vocals, possibly Wilus Ogeat on guitar, Nelson Young on fiddle, and Cliff Newman on drums, it became the 3rd best selling Goldband album.2 Regarding Sidney's recording, Shuler stated:

Apart from the late Iry Lejeune, who was about the biggest-selling artist in the field, I had some other popular songs, especially 'Lemonade Song' by Leroy Broussard, and 'Sha Ba Ba' and 'Pestauche Ah Tante Nana' by Sidney Brown.

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Cajun Dance Tunes, Dance Album Vol. 1, LP GCL-109.  Liner notes.
  3. Lyrics by Marc C, Stephane F, Dunn J, and Rodolphe O.
  4. Discussions with Jean M
  5. Discussions with Jesse L
  6. Ye Yaille Chere by Raymond Francois


Sidney Brown & Shorty LeBlanc ‎– The Best Of Two Cajun Greats (Swallow, 1987)
Cajun Dance Tunes Vol.2 (Goldband, 1989)
Sidney Brown Collector's Item (Goldband)

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Do You Think Work Is Hard?" - Adam Trahan

One of many Cajuns which headed the call by Columbia executives to record the music of their lives.  Adam Trahan (misspelled Trehan) headed to New Orleans briefly and recorded two songs, one which was about comparing hard work to the heartache of a loved one, "Do You Think Work Is Hard?" for Columbia (#40509).

Y'en a qui dit que travailler c'est dur,
Mais, travailler, mais ça c'est rien du tout,
Laissez-moi vous dire mais quoi c'est qu'est dur,
C'est quand on aime et qu'on est pas aimé,
S'en aller, oui, de la maison,
Mettre la table et pas capable d' souper,
S'en aller, oui, dehors pour se coucher,
Se mettre à jongler et pis se mettre à pleurer.

Y'en a qui dit mais travailler c'est dur,
Mais travailler, mais ça c'est rien du tout,
Laissez-moi vous dire mais quoi c'est qu'est dur
Lordy! Est d'aller auras de la belle,
et puis qu'elle te tourne le dos.

Nothing is more dissonant than hearing the impromptu guitarist's failure of finding the chords while the bass side of the accordion carries on with the song. Allegedly, Adam's guitarist couldn't make it and someone unfamiliar with the song, filled in. According to Ron Brown, the excessive demands upon Trahan's time conflicted with his plans to marry and get a 'responsible' job.1,2  By the time Columbia approached Adam to record again, he had already sold his accordion.2  Cajun musicians either fully embraced commercialization and it's fringe benefits or skirted the periphery like Trahan, disillusioned with the lifestyle.1

They are people who say that work is hard,

However, work, that's nothing,

Let me tell you what is hard otherwise,

This is when you love and are not loved back,

Go, yeh, to the house,

Set the table and not be able to have dinner,

Go, yeh, lie down outside,

Begin to reminiscence and worse, begin to cry.

They are people who say it's hard work,

However, work, that's nothing,

Let me tell you what is hard otherwise, 

Lordy! You to go to her,

And worse, she turns her back on you.

  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. Accordions, Fiddles, Two-Step & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader by Ryan A. Brasseaux
  3. Image by Devon F.
  4. Lyrics by Jordy A, James P and Stephane F
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"La Valse De Creole" - Dudley and James Fawvor

Dudley Eraste Fawvor and James Henry Fawvor, Jr. were two musicians from Cameron, Louisiana who joined other Cajuns recording music for Columbia/Okeh.   They would record two songs as Dudley and James Fawvor, one entitled "La Valse De Creole".   Like many of the pre-Depression Cajun material, Okeh also co-released this on their "Arcadian French" series however, the Okeh pressing misspelled it as "La Vals De Breole".   By 1929, the duo had created a proto-swing sound in Cameron Parish by combining Texas-style long-bow fiddle techniques with swinging guitar.

C'est pas la peine tu me dis "Non", faudra juste tu me dis "Oui",

C'est pas la peine tu me chagrines, faudra juste que tu marier,

Oh, oui, mon amie, quand le whisky est fini,

Oh, oui, mon amie, quand la valse s'en finie.

T'es perdu du grand bois, ouais, mon bebe, chère,
Jamais me qu'avec part mon jogue au plombeau,
C'est Jean à maison d'elle j'etre partir pour tout jour,
Je mettre de caillé et du pain de maïs pour te dîner de ta vie.

Dudley Fawvor
After an audition that included several compositions rendered in French, the record company representative offered the English-speaking duet a recording deal of $50 per person for the session.  Dudley, working as a structural engineer for the Texas Company and having just started his musical career, he and his brother's career abruptly ended.  Dudley died at a hospital in 1930 due to complications from having his tonsils removed. 

Their off-timed singing along with their difficult French phrasing makes it complicated to understand; almost phonetically singing the lyrics with their American accent.  In their lyrics, "jogue au plombeau" is a uniquely Cajun phrase describing the "jug on the pommel of the saddle" usually carrying water, whiskey, or some other liquid. Their two sides epitomized the impact of hillbilly and jazz on Cajun music with James using the full length of his bow to sustain his melodic phrasing.  The following year in 1929, Angelus Lejeune used this old melody for his recording of "La Valse de Pointe Noire".

It's not worth it, you don't have to say "No", you must say "Yes",

It's not worth it, you'll be sorry, will you just marry me,

Oh, yes, my friend, when the whiskey is finished,

Oh, yes, my friend, when then the waltz is over.

You're lost in the big woods, yeh, my baby, my dear,
Never will I share with you my pommel jug,
It was John at your house, I'll be leaving any day now,
I left curds and cornbread to keep you alive.

James Fawvor
Eventually, their music would go on to inspire other musicians including the young Luderin Darbone who would eventually form the Hackberry Ramblers.   The lovely Creole Waltz done by the Fawvors has the lyrics associated later with "Tout Les Deux Pour la Meme (Both for the Same)" by Lawrence Walker but the melody used in Nathan Abshire's "Kaplan Waltz" with a vague similarity to Nathan's "Holly Beach". His lyrics are more romantic in nature and less strange than the Fawvors. Oddly enough, Walker would record a different tune and entitle it "Creole Waltz".

  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music: By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  2. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  3. Discussions with Malinda and Curtis F.
  4. Lyrics by Jerry M and Stephane F


Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Cajun Swamp Stomp, Vol 1 (Lumi, 2012)