Friday, January 31, 2020

"La Cote Farouche De La Vie" - Marie Falcon & Clopha "Shuk" Richard

What many people aren't aware of is that acclaimed Cajun accordionist Joe Falcon had a large musical family, which included his niece Marie Solange Falcon.   Marie, backed by Clopha "Shuk" Richard's band, had a short lived recording career in 1952.   An admirer of her aunt Cleoma Breaux Falcon, she had no problem jumping into the music business.   She had played with many musicians and lived in Cajun dance-halls playing music for years.  George Khoury had her record a very popular country song that year, in French, called "Le Côte Farouche De La Vie" (#621).  The song is fitting for the wild and boisterous female guitarist and vocalist.

Vous serait pas lire mes lettres, se j'ai écrit les 

Tu me demandes de pas ta appelez de sur "phone", 
Il y a quelque chose de vous dit, oui, asteur chere, 
Je l'ai écrit dans les mots dans c'ette chanson. 

Savais pas bon dieu a fait des anges "honky-tonk", 
J'aurais tu connu que m'a jamais faites une femme, 
T'as quitte, oui, le seul l'amour qui t'aimé, chere, 
T'en aller sur la borde la vie farouche. 

Les lumière du le place du soir t'a attiré,
A la place éyoù vin et whisky flux,
Bien, êtes-vous d'être le bébé d'un autre de Pointe d'Eglise,
Oublier l'amour des yeux que t'as jamais connais. 

Savais pas bon dieu a fait des anges "honky-tonk", 
J'aurais tu connu que m'a jamais faites une femme, 
T'as quitte, oui, le seul l'amour qui t'aimé, chere, 
T'en aller sur la borde la vie farouche. 

Eddie Richard, Jay Dartez,
Clopha "Shugg" Richard on accordion,
Marie Solange Falcon on guitar,
Jack Brock (MC)

It is a Cajun rendition of Hank Thompson's 1952 "The Wild Side Of Life". It carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925.2  The song's roots go back to when William Warren was a boy and A.P Carter of the Carter Family was collecting old traditional folk songs for the Carter Family to record.  One of those songs was "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," which was a hit for the Carter Family in 1929.  In 1934, Marie's aunt, Cleoma Breaux, was a huge fan of the Carters and had used the melody for her "Mes Yeux Bleu". Influenced by her aunt, Marie sung the song in Lake Charles backed up by Shuk Richard on accordion, Will Kegley on fiddle and Crawford Vincent on drums.    

You would not read my letters, if I wrote them,

You asked me not to call your phone,
This is something you said, yes, right now, dear,
I wrote the words in this song.

Didn't know the good Lord made honky-tonk angels,
I should have known that you never made a woman,
You're leaving, yeah, the one that loved you, dear,
You're going to the wild side of life.

The lights of the night have lured you,
At a place where the wine and whiskey flows,
Well, you are the baby of another from Church Point,
Forget the lovely eyes you've ever known.

Didn't know the good Lord made honky-tonk angels,
I should have known that you never made a woman,
You're leaving, yeah, the one that loved you, dear,
You're going to the wild side of life.

J.D. Miller, showing his #1 hit
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels"

Roy Acuff heard the same tune but with different lyrics from a band called The Black Shirts. Acuff recorded the song as "The Great Speckled Bird," a song inspired by the 12th chapter and 9th verse of the Book of Jeremiah. In 1952, Jimmy Heap and his band the Melody Masters first recorded the song on the Imperial label. The band's piano player, Arlie Carter, is credited as the song's co-writer.  Heap said in a 1971 interview with Ray Campi that the Melody Masters' version sold about 10,000 copies before Hank Thompson picked it up as the "B" side of his single "Crying In The Deep Blue Sea."

Louisiana recording producer and songwriter J.D. Miller heard Hank's song on his car radio and immediately wrote lyrics for a female response to the song. He submitted his lyrics to Decca Records, which contacted Kitty Wells about recording it. Ms. Wells, semi-retired at the time, was not all that interested in the song, but her husband convinced her to record it anyway since she would be paid a session fee for stepping into the studio. Her song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," became a number one hit in 1952, and stayed there for six weeks.1

  3. Lyrics by Jerry M
Release Info:
La Cote Farouche De La Vic | Khoury's KH-621-A
Jole Brun | Khoury's KH-621-B

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)
Bayou Two-Step - Cajun Hits From Louisiana 1929-1962 (Jasmine, 2015)

Monday, January 27, 2020

"Ca Tait Pas Difference Asteur (It Makes No Difference Now)" - Sons of Acadians

Oran "Doc" Guidry played fiddle across south Louisiana with many groups. Originally recording with Happy Fats and the Rayne-Bo Ramblers for the Bluebird Label in 1936, he broke away to form the Sons of the Acadians band with his brother Nason and cousin Ray Guidry.  The team recorded the song "Ca Tait Pas Difference Asteur" (#17052) for Decca.  Sung by Sidney Guidry of the Alley Boys of Abbeville, the song is a cover of a Jimmie Davis tune called "It Makes No Difference Now".   His group rounded out with Roscoe Whitlow on steel guitar. 

Ça fait pas différence que ça de vivre quand même,
Ça faire sans toi ça c'est bien facile à voir,
Ça me gène pas quoi ça dit mais, moi j'vas faire sans toi,
Mais, te tracasse pas, ça fait pas de différence asteur.

C’était juste un an passé que je t'avais rencontré,
Moi je t'aimais et je croyais que tu m'aimais aussi,
Mais ça c'est dans le passé et j'vas t'oublier,
Ça me tracasse pas, ça fais pas de différence asteur.

Alors, qu'on s'a quitté, mais, moi j'peux pas croire que ça c'est vrai,
Me blâme pas et moi j'suis sûr je peux pas t'blâmer,
Il y a quelque chose qu'avait pour arriver et qu'est arrivé quand même, 
Te tracasse pas, ça fait pas différence asteur.

Après tout est fait et dit moi j'vas t'oublier,
Quand même j'connais que ça, ça sera si dur à faire,
Laisse les choses venir comme ça vient, mais, m'en j'vas faire comme toi,
Mais, t'tracasse pas, ça fais pas différence asteur.

Daily Advertiser
Nov 1, 1939

After recording with the group, Doc moved to Orange Texas to help in the war effort, where he met Cliff Bruner, playing in clubs throughout the Golden Triangle.  He even toured the country with Jimmie Davis where he would make his signature 1953 recording of "Chere Cherie" with L. J. Blanc at a session in Nashville, TN. During Jimmie Davis’ successful campaigns for governor in 1944 and 1960, Doc Guidry was the featured instrumentalist that added the winning touch in Cajun country.

It makes no difference what life brings anyways,
Doing it without you, that is easy to see,
It doesn't bother me what's said, well, I'm handling it without you,
Well, don't worry, it makes no difference now.

It's just a year since I met you,
I love you and I thought you loved me too,
But this is in the past and I will forget you,
It doesn't bother me, it makes no difference now.

So, we left each other, but, I can't believe it's true,
Don't blame me and I'm sure I can't blame you,
There was somethig that had to happen and that happened anyways,
Don't worry, it makes no difference now.

After all is done and said, I'm going to forget you,
Even though I know that it will be so hard to do,
Let it come as it comes, but, I'm going to handle it like you,
Well, don't worry, it makes no difference now. 

Teche News
Nev 26, 1948

  1. Louisiana Fiddlers By Ron Yule
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
66404-A Ca Tait Pas Difference Asteur (It Makes No Difference Now) | Decca 17052 A
66407-A Rosetta | Decca 17052 B

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"La Valse Du Texas" - Angelas Lejeune & Ernest Fruge

Cajun accordion player Angelas Lejeune had learned to play at a young age.  By World War I, teenage Lejeune had become part of the region's musical network, collaborating and interacting with both Amede Ardoin and Dennis McGee.  LeJeune developed into a visible figure on southwest Louisiana's dance circuit, sometimes performing five nights a week at house dance in and around the rural Pointe Noire community.2  

Demand for French music also called the accordionist away to play lucrative gigs as far away as Texas.  After playing a dance in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McGee, Lejeune, and fiddler Ernest Fruge continued west to perform in Shiner, Texas.  Dennis recalled:
And over there, they tapped their feet. They jumped up, they cried out...they danced, danced, sweated, sweated.2  
Oct 1, 1929

Eh, chère, malheureuse, petite,

Criminelle, quoi faire tu fais ça avec ton nègre.

Oh, toi, quand j'ai parti pour aller,

Dans le Texas t'as parti, quoi mieux* 'tit monde, malheureuse.

Oh, éyou, (que) j'ai eu tout ma misère, 

C'est quand j'ai parti pour en revenir dans la Louisiane, qui est misérée.

Oh chère, si t'aurai voulu m’écouter, 
Tu serais pas dans les chemins aujourd'hui, mais, comme t'es,
Tu connais, chère, tu vas voir ton erreur, 
Tout ça là, pour tout ça tu m'as fait, malheureuse.

The receptive Texas audience paid the three musicians $80 for their appearance.   After winning an accordion contest back home, he and Ernest Fruge, along with many other Cajun musicians from the area descended on New Orleans in 1929 for a massive Vocalion/Brunswick recording session.   He would be called up the following year with Fruge and the duo would wax the tune "La Valse Du Texas" (#530). In 1934, Ardoin took the melody and stepped it up from a waltz to a two step, creating the "Le Midland Two Step".  McGee recalls playing with all of them:

I played with both accordion players. Angelas and Ernest and I played together as a trio.  When I played with Amede, we played just the two of us.1  

Angelas Lejeune (accordion)

Hey, dear, oh my, little one,
You're terrible, why have you done that to your man?

Oh, you, when I left to go,
To Texas, you left me, for the best*, little everything, oh my.

Oh, where are you, I've been in complete misery,
That's when I left to return to Louisiana, which has been miserable. 

Oh dear, if you had just wanted to listen to me,
You would not be wandering today, well, like you are,
You know, dear, you'll see your mistake,
All that over there, for all that you've done, oh my.
Angelas never continued his recording career and the song lost it's popularity until after World War II, when accordion player Belton Richard converted the tune into his more well-known 1967 "Cherokee Waltz".   Musician and native of Angelas' home town, J.C. Leger explains:

I love Angelas' playing so much. I find that all those accordion players born between 1890 and 1910 had a similar attack on the accordion, playing a discernible melody on a hard rhythm with space in the phrasing. It transcended race or region. I like to believe their playing to be the embodiment of the spirit of their culture at the time. They learned without the influence of recorded Cajun music.  It's pure and beautiful and alive.3  

  1. Cajun and Creole Music Makers By Barry Jean Ancelet
  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Discussions with J.C. Leger
  4. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
NO-6715 One Step A Cain | Brunswick 530
NO-6716 La Valse Du Texas | Brunswick 530


Let Me Play This For You: Rare Cajun Recordings (Tompkins, 2013)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

"J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte" - Eddie Shuler

Behind his folksy, down-to-earth demeanor, producer Eddie Shuler was a shrewd businessman and the driving force behind Goldband Records.  Shuler was born in Wrightsboro, Texas, the oldest of three children. His parents separated when he was still a child, and the young Shuler worked odd jobs, picking cotton, corn and pecans and loading cottonseeds into boxcars. 
"I was one of those that had to grow up on my own," he says. "I started working when I was 9 years old. All I was trying to do was make a living. I didn't have that much of an education.".3  

Once Shuler became older, he soon found out that there were fringe benefits to being a musician.  He recalls one particular gig in Creole. 
Boy, there were some pretty little gals. I'm telling you, them were good looking little gals, and I hadn't never even seen a Cajun until I come over here. All them little Cajun gals was ganged around me like flies around flypaper. So the second time we went out there to play, they carried my guitar for me and all my songs and everything. I said, 'To hell with that damn drag line! I'm going to be a musician.'"3    

J’ai passe devant ta porte,
J’ai crie, “By-bye la belle.”
Y a personne qu’a pas repondu,
O ye yaille, mon coeur fait mal.

Moi, je mis (à) bien observer,
Moi, je vu le lumiere allumé,
Y quelque chose qui me disait j'aurais pleuré,
O ye yaille, mon coeur fait mal.

Quand j’ai ete cogner a la porte,
Quand ont (r)ouvert la porte de la maison,
Moi, j’ai vu des chandelles allumees
Tout autour de ton cercueil.

Eddie Shuler's Reveliers
KPLC in Lake Charles
Eddie Shuler, unknown, possibly Eldrige "Coon" Guidry, 
Amos Comeaux, Johnny Babb, Jimmy Webster, unknown

Courtesy of Chris Strachwitz

So, Eddie joined up with the Hackberry Ramblers in the 1940s, but it was short lived.  Shuler wanted to record his own songs and focus more on hillbilly music, like his main influence, Bob Wills. He left the Ramblers and started his own outfit: Eddie Shuler and the All Star Reveliers.3     Shuler recalls:
Then I decided I wanted to make records, so I found an ad in Billboard magazine, a place in New York.  So I saved my money, and with this outfit in New York, I made my first record on Goldband.  Why Goldband?  I was one of those true optimists, I believed, and I had to find me a name.  I sad "Goldband!"  I could visualize a gold band, a gold mine.  Then I had to come up with the logo.  I had an artist to draw the logo for me, which we sent to the guy in New York.1

Recorded in either late 1954 or early 1955, Shuler's orchestra consisted of twin fiddles, possibly by Charlie Broussard and Norris Savoie, and together they recorded the original Cleoma Breaux classic song entitled "J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte" (#700).  The vocals seem to point to Frankie Mailhes as lead singer but it remains unknown.   It was pressed on both his black and blue labels. 

I passed in front of your door
I cried, "Goodbye, my beautiful girl."
Yet no one responded.
Oh, how my heart aches!

I took a closer look,
I saw the lights lit,
And something told me I was going to cry,
Oh, how my heart aches!

When I knocked at the door,
When they they opened the door of the house,
I saw the (devotional) candles lit,
All around your coffin.

Strangely enough, his subtitled the song "The For Me, For Me Song" for reasons unknown on the blue label.  Yet, he misspells the title as "Je Vous Passe La Porte" on the black label, only referencing the band as "Shuler's All Star Reveliers".  Although this was probably recorded much earlier, the pressing of this song was a late one for the Reveliers.  Later, in an interview, he mistakenly believes this was pressed on Bob Tanner's TNT label but clearly done under the management of his contemporary down the street, George Khoury.  When asked about Khoury,
Oh yeah, none of the people that's here are competition to me.  We're friends.2   

  1. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven

Release Info:
J’ai Passé Devant Ta Porte | Khoury's 700-A
Louisiana Stomp | Khoury's 700-B

Eddie Shuler & His All Star Reveliers: Grande Mamou (BACM, 2016)
Hillbilly Researcher # 27 - Khoury`s & Lyric (Hillbilly Researcher, 2018)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

"Creole Hop" - Joe Manuel

Creole Hop!  It was a rendition of the famous Cleoma Breaux tune "Ils La Volet Mon Trancas".   Joe, familiar with the tune from the years playing it as "Hackberry Hop" with Leo Soileau, sang the song in 1947 with Harry Choates as "Hackberry Hop" for Jimmy Mercer's Cajun Classics.  Two years later, he recorded it himself for the Joe Leibowitz's DeLuxe label, entitling it "Creole Hop" (#6039), naming if after the small town in Cameron Parish where many of the Manuels lived.

Hé le Hip et Taïau, ouais, qu’a volé mon traineau, chérie,

Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ç’a r’venu mon traineau,

C’est les filles de Créole, ouais, qu’a volé traineau, chérie,

Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ils ont r’venu mon traineau.

Hé le Hip et Taïau, ouais, qu’a volé mon gilet, p’tite fille,
Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, ouais, ils ont r’venu mon gilet,
C’est les filles de Créole, ouais, qu’a volé gilet, ouais,
Quand ç’a vu j’étais chaud, p’tite fille, ils ont r’venu mon gilet.

Crowley Daily Signal
Oct 11, 1949

Every Friday afternoon, he ran a radio show on KSIG called T-Joe Manuel & Radio Stars featuring the best western string band tunes of the time.  His group consisted of probably Eddie Caldwell on guitar, Abe Manuel on fiddle, Dusty Rhodes on steel guitar, and Crawford Vincent on drums.  It was essentially the same setup and lineup that Abe had on his recording of "Hippy Ti Yo". 

Hey, the Hip and Taïau, yeh, that stole my sled, darling,

When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my sled, darling,

It's the girls of Creole, yeh, that stole my sled, darling,
When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my sled.

Hey, the Hip and Taïau, yeh, that stole my vest, little girl,
When they saw I was hot, yeh, they returned my vest,
It's the Creole girls, yeh, that stole my vest, yeh,
When they saw I was hot, little girl, they returned my vest.

Daily World
May 20, 1949

  1. Lyrics by Jordy A
Release Info:
D 946 Cherie Ba Sate | 6039-A DeLuxe
D 947 Creole Hop | 6039-B DeLuxe

Saturday, January 4, 2020

"Two Step De Avalon" - Elise Deshotel

Elise Dehotel's Louisiana Rhythmaires were very popular between Basile and Lake Charles. Deshotel, together with family members, had previously played with Nathan Abshire in south Louisiana venues including the Avalon Club, a place owned by the rough and tumble Quincy Davis. Doug Kershaw recalls playing at the club:
Me & my brothers, Pee Wee & Rusty would play the afternoon dance at Club Avalon in Basile then either Iry or Nathan Abshire would play the night dance. Quincy could be rough if he had to, but he looked after us kids.  When he re-opened the Broken Mirror in West Lake, he let us play there.

Elise jumped into the recording arena around the same time Nathan had brought back the accordion into Cajun music.  Deshotel's six song session, comprised of three vocals and three instruments, was the first in which Dewey Balfa took part on fiddle, as well as handling all the vocals.  The instrumentals from the session were assigned as the "A" sides and stomping accordion pieces dominated by Maurice Barzas. As researcher David Sax mentions:
"Two Step De Avalon" in particular, with it's wonderfully heavy handed drumming from Deshotel's wife Esther, seems to bring to mind a wild early morning encore near closing time at the Avalon Club.1  
"Avalon" seems to be a slightly different take on Lawrence Walker's "Creole Stomp". Elise had himself on guitar, Maurice Barzas on accordion, Dewey Balfa on fiddle, Rodney Balfa on guitar, and Esther on drums.  The band members fluctuated often and by this point, Atlas Fruge was added on steel guitar.  Sadly, his astounding steel guitar playing and Balfa's fiddle are barely heard here. 

KSIG in Crowley
Elise Deshotel, Cleveland "Cat" Deshotel,
Atlas Fruge, unknown girl, unknown guitar,
Eldridge "Coon" Guidry

  1. Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2. Liner notes.
Release Info:
Two Step De Avalon | Khoury's KH-619-A
La Valse De Courage | Khoury's KH-619-B

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