Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Ayou, Ayou, Mon Petite Chien Pour Edete (Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone)" - Louisiana Rounders

Joe Werner was a complete entertainer throughout the Cajun countryside.   He started his career in music and minstrel shows.  He recalled back when he was a barefooted kid, he told his father before Christmas that he waned Santa Claus to bring him a harmonica.  He got his harmonica an he started "fooling" with music.  Year after year, the Christmas request was the same, and year after year, Santa Claus came through with another harmonica. At the local high school auditorium in 1927, he entered a talent show, playing his harmonica and received "encore upon encore" for his version of the song "Casey Jones".6 By the early 1930s, he was dabbling both in music and in theater.  He participated in black face minstrel shows as a comedian for local theater groups.3  

Éyoù éyoù, mon petit chien peut d'être,

Éyoù éyoù, l'est peut d'être,

La queue coupée court(e), les oreilles sont larges,

Éyoù éyoù, l'est peut d'être.

Éyoù éyoù, mon petit chien peut d'être,
Éyoù éyoù, l'est peut d'être,
Y'a une tache dans le coté et ses cheveux est coupés courts,
Éyoù éyoù, l'est peut d'être.
Rayne Tribune
Dec 10, 1937

Throughout 1936, Joe's entertainment services would include playing music for special novelty programs at the Opera House, personifying Jimmie Rogers on stage.1   He even won a second place award during the finals in the Heymann Amateur Hour in Lafayette.    During the time allotted to him for his part of the program, Joe offered two English selections, "Cocktail For Two" and "She's Just That Kind Of A Girl". He accompanied both songs on the guitar and harmonica, also singing several choruses and whistling.2    

He shortly jumped into the band called the Hackberry Ramblers, recording for Bluebird Records.  The following year, Joe left their group and formed the Louisiana Ramblers with Wayne Perry on fiddle and Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez on steel guitar.   Together, they traveled to the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, TX where they recorded the old traditional tune called "Ayou, Ayou, Mon Petite Chien Pour Edete (Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone)" in Cajun French (#17040). His title written as "ayou" or "éyoù" is a common Louisiana French phrasing of the words "où est".
Oh where, oh where can my little dog be,
Oh where, oh where can he be,
The tail is cut short, the ears are wide,
Oh where, oh where can he be.

Oh where, oh where can my little dog be,
Oh where, oh where can he be,
There's a spot on the side and his hair is cut short,
Oh where, oh where can he be.
Even stage shows that arrived in town would feature Joe Werner as the opening act.  Eventually, Joe would settle down, hosting a radio show on KSIG for years.4 

  1. "Winners Named For Premier".  RT 2-28-1936.
  2. "Werner Wins Amateur Award" RT 5-8-1936.
  3. "St. Joseph Fair Will Open On Saturday".  RT 10-18-1935.
  4. "Werner's Wondering Finds New Popularity".  H.I. Mitchell.  CDS. 1952.
  5. RT 12-10-1937
  6. "Large Crowd Attends Community Singing" RT 5-7-1927
  7. Lyrics by Stephane F


Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
The Very Best of Cajun: La Stomp Creole, Vol. 1 (Viper, 2016)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Your Papa Threw Me Out" - Joe Manuel

The Manuels, Abe and Joe, were a musical family from Oberlin, Louisiana near Basile.  Having spent time in Leo Soileau's band in the early 1940s, after the war, both began playing with Harry Choates' Melody Boys.   Joe usually backed up Harry on banjo while Joe's wife played piano.   After Harry's hi-jinks caused the band to split in 1948, Joe formed a group to record other traditional Cajun tunes he was familiar with.  He kept the band name Melody Boys and his brother joined him.
Oh, ton papa m’a jeté dehors de ma maison
Il m’a jeté dehors de ma maison, de ma maison, moi-même chérie
Hé, malheureuse, j’mérite pas ça ‘tite fille

Oh, ton papa m’a jeté dehors de ma maison
Il m’a jeté dehors de ma maison, de ma maison, moi-même chérie
Hé, un jour à venir, t’auras du regret, ‘tite fille
Joe Manuel, Eddie Caldwell, Crawford Vincent,
Abe Manuel Sr, Carlo Bordelon

Image courtesy of Johnnie Allan & the 
Center for Louisiana Studies, 
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Joe's group covered the 1928 Leo Soileau and Mayuse Lafleur tune called "Your Father Put Me Out".  It was a tune Mayuse sang about his father-in-law, a person he had no respect for.  Joe had no trouble singing the French lyrics and placing his hillbilly band behind it.   It had been recently recorded by Lawrence Walker's band as "Ton Papa Ta Mama Ma Sta Da All".  Harry Choates recorded the same tune as "Tondelay".

Oh, your daddy threw me out of my house,

He threw me out of my house, from my house, myself dear,

Oh my, I didn't deserve that little girl.

Oh, your daddy threw me out of my house

He threw me out of my house, from my house, myself dear,

Hey, one day soon, you'll regret this, little girl.

  1. Lyrics by Stephane F

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Chatatinia Waltz" - Austin Pitre

Austin Pitre was one of the founding dancehall era accordionists during the 1950s.  His father, Joseph, played the fiddle, but it was an accordion he presented to Austin on his 6th birthday, looking ahead with hopes that someday his young son might join him at playing the popular house dances of that time.1,2 Austin had an enviably unspoiled style as a vocalist, accordionist, and violinist. Besides Leo Soileau, his major influence was Amadie Ardoin.3

Eh, chére tit fille,

Fais pas ça avec ton neg,

Malheurese tu vas pleurer

Ça t'as fait z'avec moi y'a pas longtemp.

Eh, mais, moi'j'suis là,

Dans les misère, mon tout seul,

Par rapport ma chére tit monde
Tu m'as fait des misère au si loin.

Malheureuse, prends courage,
T'en revenir, va faire encore
Malheurese, vas s'en aller
S'en aller pour 'venir, malheureuse

Austin Pitre

Chataignier (misspelled Chatatinia) is a small community in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana.  Austin's band worked up a tune called the "Chatatinia Waltz" (#1013) for J.D. Miller's new Feature label in 1950.   It was actually a melody by Doc Guidry called "Le Nuevo Te Maurice".   By this time, Miller seemed to drop his Fais Do Do label and use it as a subtitle on the records.

Hey, dear little girl,

Don't do that to you old man,

Oh my, you'll cry,

Did that with me there, not so long ago.

Hey, well, I am there,

In misery, all by myself,

Respectfully, my dear little everything,

You've made me miserable so far.

Oh my, take courage,
You'll return, you will do it again,
Oh my, going to go,
Going to go just to return, oh my.

Austin's first band, Evangeline Playboys, became one of the most sought after Cajun bands, drawing capacity crowds at all their dances.  The Chinaball Club's owner, in a last desperate effort to save his club, begged Austin to play his club....said he'd have to close up if he didn't come.  So, Austin and his band traveled to Bristol, Louisiana and they brought the crowds with them.  Austin and his band ended up playing there every weekend for six years.1,2

  1. Austin Pitre and the Evangeline Playboys.  Swallow 6041.   Liner notes.
  2. Acadian All Star Special.  Liner notes.
  3. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  4. Lyrics by Stephane F
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Vien Don Ma Reguin (Come And Meet Me)" - J.B. Fuselier

Jean Baptiste "J.B." Fuselier was a popular and innovative musician, recording a number of popular Cajun hits in the 1930s and 1940s, adding drums and steel guitar to his traditional Cajun ensemble.1    He was a brilliant accordion player, playing it during house dances, however, the recording label was only interested in string band music.   This 1938 recording would be his last for Bluebird records and for a national label.  He wouldn't record again until the 1960s.

J’l’ai quitté hier au soir pour aller, ouais, te rejoindre, 

Mais brailler, ouais, mais toi, t’aurais venu me rejoindre, jolie. 

Mais t’es après t’en aller, pour toujours au si loin, 

Où jamais je vas te revoir encore, ouais mais toi,  ma chère catin. 

Tu voudrais, ouais, venir avec ton nég’ à la maison, 

Gardez-donc que c’est vrai, mais tout seul pleurer pour toi. 

Ma quitté pour t'en aller, dans le Bayou Teche avec un autre, 
Plus jamais ma jolie, te voir jamais avec ton nég’.
Crowley Daily Signal
Mar 12, 1960

In this, he chose to loosely cover one of the more popular Amede Ardoin tunes from 1929 called the "Eunice Two Step".  The session had Preston Manuel on guitar and possibly M.J. Atchen on guitar as well. The title was a corrupted form of the phrase "viens donc me rejoindre".  It would later become Iry Lejeune's "Jolie Catin".  

I left yesterday evening to go away, yeah, to join you,

Well exclaiming, yeh, well you, you have to come to join me, my pretty.

Well, afterwards you went away, for ever so far away,

Where I'll never see you again, yeh well, you my dear little doll.

You wish to, yeh, come back with your old man to the house,

Look here, since it's true, well, you're crying all alone.

Left me to go away, into the Bayou Teche with another,
Forever, my pretty one, you'll never see your old man.

After WWII, Fuselier joined with Iry LeJeune and the Calcasieu Playboys and the two ruled the dance hall circuit until 1955 when LeJeune was killed and Fuselier severely injured when hit by a car while changing a tire at night on a dangerous South Louisiana highway.1   After Iry died, he re-formed his band, releasing one record by an obscure label called Southern records.  By 1962, he picked up his accordion again and worked with Eddie Shuler of Goldband records to record 6 tunes between 1963 and 1968. 

  2. Lyrics by Stephane F
Le Gran Mamou: A Cajun Music Anthology (CMF, 1990)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2 (JSP, 2005)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Teiyut Two Step" - Chuck Guillory

A great post-war Cajun swing instrumental called Teiyut found it's roots in pre-war string band songs.  Old tunes which post-war musicians made into new songs helped launch J.D. Miller's Feature label throughout the local scene.  By 1937, J.D. Miller began realizing the interest in local Cajun music.  Miller recalls:
It was the first time I'd heard Cajun music and I loved it.  I mostly filled in with bands, playing guitar.2
Miller created his business in 1946 and his Feature label in 1947-148.  Having a passion for hillbilly music, it was no surprise that musician like Murphy "Chuck" Guillory would end up being recorded by Miller. Leaning heavily in the country direction was fiddler Chuck, who once beat both Harry Choates and Leo Soileau in a fiddling contest.  Born in Mamou, Guillory recorded with accordionist Milton Molitor.  Later Guillory founded and headed up a popular seven-piece Cajun country band, the Rhythm Boys, which included at various points Jimmy Newman and George Jones.1
Chuck Guillory

By 1949, Chuck recorded an instrumental version of the Leo Soileau classic "Blues de Port Arthur", naming it "Teiyut Two Step" (#1015), after a Cajun hound dog holler, taïaut. The recording was done with the unknown Jimmy Newman on guitar.  By this time, Papa Cairo had formed his own band and his friend Francis "Red" Fabacher, who played with Harry Choates for awhile, filled in on steel guitar.  The rest of the lineup was most likely Herman Durbin on piano, Pete Duhon or Howard Thibodeaux on bass, and Curzey Roy on drums. 

  1. Louisiana Music: A Journey From R&b To Zydeco, Jazz To Country, Blues To ... By Rick Koster
  2. Interview with J.D. Miller. By Stacey Courville. Crowley Post Signal. 1983.
Chuck Guillory ‎– Grand Texas (Arhoolie, 1998)
Jimmy C NEWMAN - The Original Cry, Cry, Darling (Jasmine, 2009)
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"La Valse de Riceville" - Nathan Abshire & Rayne-Bo Ramblers

One of the most colorful and greatest Cajun musicians of all time was the late Nathan Abshire. Abshire’s unique style came from blending traditional Cajun music with Louisiana Creole and blues music, music other early Cajun musicians largely disdained or ignored. He also ignited his performances with a spirit and joy for life that few musicians could match.1

Nathan Abshire's earliest recording sessions involved Happy Fats and his Rayne-Bo Ramblers.  During this 1935 session, the band tried their luck at bringing the accordion into their string band group.  It must not have gone over well since Happy's group became solely a string band in 1936 and remained a string band from that moment on. However, the 6-song session produced a tune named after a small community in Vermilion parish called Riceville. 
Eh, toi, tit fille, quoi t'as fais avec moi,
Te m'a quitté, chere, au soir, 
Pour t'en aller chez ta famille.

hé, c'est ma joue rose, qui va voir comment j'suis la aujourd'hui,
Tu m'as quitté dans la misère et le chagrin,
Comment j'vas faire chez moi tout seul.
Nathan Abshire
Image courtesy of Johnnie Allan & the 
Center for Louisiana Studies, 
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

In typical Nathan style, his songs were commonly named after places he was familiar with back home, such as "One Step de Morse", "Kaplan Waltz", "Gueydan Breakdown", "One Step de Lacassine" and "La Valse De Riceville" (#2174).   With Nathan on accordion and vocals, the New Orleans session had Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc and Warnes Schexnayder playing the guitar, and Norris Savoy playing the fiddle.  According to author Ryan Brasseaux:
"La Valse de Riceville", a homage to Nathan Abshire's native hamlet, is a rough adaptation of the Breaux family's "Ma Blonde Est Parti".  Abshire borrows several lines directly from Amede Breau's waltz, including "tu m'as quitte... pour t'en aller chez ta famille".2 
Hey, you, little girl, what have you done to me,
You've left me, dear, this evening, 
For you've gone away to your family's house.

Hey, it's my rosy cheek (gal), who will see how I'm doing today,
You've left me in misery and sorry,
How will I go home all alone?

Happy Fats Rayne-Bo Ramblers

Not long after, Abshire abandoned the accordion in favor of the fiddle, as the “squeeze box” fell into disfavor—even in Louisiana. Abshire switched to fiddle, playing in a succession of Western swing bands up until World War II. Abshire served briefly in the army, but his illiteracy and inability to speak English led to an early discharge. Back in Louisiana (married and living in Riceville), he began working in a sawmill. A serious injury at the sawmill earned him a $500 settlement and he began repairing odds and ends at home as a matter of survival.1

It wouldn't be until after the war when several of the club musicians at the Pine Grove Club would ask him to join their small group and kick off Nathan's second career.

  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F
  4. Image by Lyle F
Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology 1928 - 1941 (The Historic Victor-Bluebird Sessions Vol. 2) (CMF, 1993)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Wondering" - Riverside Ramblers

The Riverside Ramblers were actually the Hackberry Ramblers recording by a different name.  By 1936, the band was broadcasting from the Montgomery Ward store in Lake Charles and the station held a contest as to what to name the group.  The store's most popular tire was the "Riverside" and some listener won with the suggestion of Riverside Ramblers.

In 1937, when Joe Werner was in the band, they went to record again and did a song Joe claimed he had learned from an itinerant, hobo guitar player in Rayne.  Legend has it, the two musicians exchanged stories and songs, including the name of this song called "Wondering" (#6926), and it became the biggest seller the Hackberry/Riverside Ramblers ever had.1   It made Joe Werner a star and he quite for a while to form his own band and recorded for the Decca label.  When asked how "Wondering" came into being, Joe laughed and said:
It was back in my courtin' days.  One day I sat down and started picking away at the guitar and playing the harmonica and the tune fell together.  I worked out the words the same way.  It was in Paco's Cafe over in Rayne.  I had the song and words before I left Paco's that night.5
Paco's Cafe 9
Rayne by Tony Olinger

He explained that he later got help to have the song written since he wasn't able to write music.  Preston Trahan, who was a pianist with an orchestra "somewhere up North" was the one who wrote the music down for him.5  Actually, Trahan was a well known pianist from Rayne, that worked for Frank Mier's Orchestra throughout the 1920s.8

For years, many believed Joe Werner was the original writer of the song.  However, historians now know the song is a cover of a Jack Golding 1928 recording for Gennett records called "Wondering".  Evidently, it was doubtful that Bluebird was aware of the original tune which Werner was borrowing from. Werner recorded the tune alongside Luderin Darbone on fiddle and Lennis Sonnier on guitar.
Daily Advertiser
Jun 24, 1937

Wonderin', wonderin' who's kissin' you

Wonderin', wonderin' if you're wondering too

Ev'ry hour through the day since you've been away

I keep wonderin', yes, wondering if you're wonderin' too

I pray every night to the good Lord above

To send back to me the one I really love

Wonderin', wonderin' who's kissin' you

Wonderin', wonderin' if you're wondering too

Ev'ry hour through the day since you've been away

I keep wonderin', yes, wondering if you're wonderin' too

(Instrumental Break)

I pray every night to the good Lord above

To send back to me the one I really love

Wonderin', wonderin' who's kissin' you

Wonderin', wonderin' if you're wondering too
Ev'ry hour through the day since you've been away
I keep wonderin', yes, wondering if you're wonderin' too

Joe Werner, Luderin Darbone, Lennis Sonnier

The Hackberry Ramblers however liked their original name but made a compromise when they went to record again.  Their Cajun numbers were labeled as by the Hackberry Ramblers and their English material as by the Riverside Ramblers.  The outfit got a call to do some recordings in New Orleans.  Joe went along for the ride.  Joe stated:
Victor picked it up and made one of them old Bluebird records of it.5
Joe's "Wondering" went over the country and into Canada.  GIs in Europe told him after the war that they had heard it on record in the service clubs of England and Germany and elsewhere.5  Joe claims he got paid $150 for the song.7

Joe Werner and Oscar "Paco" Borne
Daily Advertiser
Feb 21, 1952

By the end of that year, Decca's A&R man tried getting several of the members to move over to their label. "Wondering" as by the Hackberry Ramblers was a very successful record, so much so that the Decca label were very keen to get the band to record the number for them.   Fiddle player Luderin Darbonne told them it would mean the band reneging on their contract with RCA Victor, something he and the group wouldn't entertain. Seemingly Joe Werner then came to see Luderin to announce that he was leaving the Hackberry Ramblers and was going to record for Decca.4  He even tried to convince Darbone, but to no avail.
RCA has been real good to us. They call us every time to come to New Orleans to make records...I don't feel like I should leave.1   

Darbone was unaware that Werner had obtained the copyright of the song after Decca had discussed the possibility of him recording for the company. Thus Joe jumped ship to Decca and by the end of the year, they had him re-record the tune as "Answer to Wondering" with a new group, Louisiana Rounders.4

By 1951, Webb Pierce signed a contract with Decca.  His third release, "Wondering", took off slowly but eventually spent four weeks at the top in 1952. By 1952, Joe gave up entertaining, mainly due to the loss of his son Richard the previous year in a tragic accident.  His 10 year old son, who used to accompany him on the KSIG radio program, swerved his bike into a tractor trailer, killing him.6   Joe continued to collect royalties on the song ever since. In 1952, Joe stated,
Your heart's got to be in your song, and ours just wasn't after the loss of our only son.10  

Jack Golding, 1928

Joe Werner, 1937

Webb Pierce, 1952

  1. Cajun Breakdown : The Emergence of an American-Made Music by Ryan Andre Brasseaux 
  2. Hackberry Ramblers Early Recordings 1935-1948 LP Cajun Old Timey.  Liner notes. 
  3. Country: A Regional Exploration By Ivan M. Tribe
  4. CAJUN-Rare & Authentic.  Pat Harrison.  Liner notes.
  5. "Werner's Wondering Finds New Popularity".  H.I. Mitchell.  CDS. 1952.
  6. "Richard Werner Killed In Bike-Truck Mishap"  CDS 4-28-1951
  7. CDS 12-12-1967
  8. "Work Complete On Legion Blackface Show" RT 8-4-1928
  9. Rayne By Cheryl McCarty, Tony Olinger
  10. The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 21 Feb 1952


Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 4: From The 30s To The 50s (Old Timey, 1972)
Hackberry Ramblers: Early Recordings 1935-1950 (Arhoolie, 2003)
Cajun Louisiane 1928-1939 (Fremeaux, 2003)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
The Beginner's Guide to Cajun Music (Proper/Primo, 2008)
JOE WERNER Early Cajun Artist (BACM, 2016)