Monday, January 25, 2021

"La Stompe Clreole (Creole Stomp)" - Harrington-Landry & Steward

Many musicians are familiar with Cajun accordionists Nathan Abshire's "Hathaway Two Step", but many aren't aware of the melody's original release by two musicians, Harrington and Landry.  Although their names have been lost to time, it's remotely possible the two musicians were Lloyd Harrington and Bob Landry of Kaplan.  Lloyd played the harmonica and the two often traveled to St. Martin Parish for dances.  This also happened to be the same place where W.J. Lemoine signed Patrick "Dak" Pellerin for the same Okeh session in which they all performed.  Given that Mina Stubbs was there, it's also possible her friend Mrs. W.T. Stewart, a renown music director in the region, could have been supervising the session.  

Record store owner and sewing machine seller Winter Lemoine hand selected the musicians for the late 1929 recording in which they waxed "La Stompe Clreole" (#45411), a clear misspelling of the word "creole".  Like the late Pellerin sides, the Harrington-Landry pressings were meant to offer a unique mixture of local music to the community.    The results of this venture ranged from from Harrington and Landry's traditional Cajun material to Pellerin & Stubb's operatic French Creole selections.  The melody lends itself to dancing, in particular, a shuffle style dance.  
According to writer and musician Ben Sandmel, 
When I was with the Hackberry Ramblers, if we played this around Eunice, Lake Charles, Jennings, etc., people would line-dance to it, although nobody ever line-danced to any other song that we played.1  

  1. Discussions with Ben S
Release Info:
403444-B Tu Aura Regret | Okeh 45411
403445-A La Stompe Clreole | Okeh 45411

CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

"La Valse De Pecaniere" - Leo Soileau & Moise Robin

Evangeline Parish native Leo Soileau made his first recordings with Mayuse Lafleur for Victor records in 1928.  Shortly afterwards, Lafleur was killed.  After Leo lost his partner, he asked Maxine Ledoux to take over the accordion duties again at the dance-hall.5  Meanwhile, Leo tried to reinvent the sound he had forged with his childhood friend by hiring seventeen year old accordionist and LaFleur-admirer Moise Robin.  The two began playing once Robin could mimic the stylings of Lafleur.  Robin recalls:
I saw Mayuse play a house dance for the Richard family in Pecaniere.  It was Christmas day.  I was five years younger than he was and he inspired me.  He had a big red accordion and he would cry on that thing.2  

Malheureuse, je t’ai demandé pour tu veins mais avec moi, 
C’est finir tes bons jours avec ton negre,
Dit bye bye, chère, dit bye bye, mais chers amis, 
Mais pour t’en venir, pour venir, un bon jour, chère.

Chere tit fille, (donc, jamais tant par ce que)* pour t’en venir 
Avec ton neg, là-bas, là-bas à la maison, yé yaille. 

Oh, mom, malheureuse, oh.

Oh yé yaille, comment-donc, mais, moi j’vas faire, mais, moi tout seule?
J't'veux promenner-z-avec ton nèg, oh chérie.
Mais, écoute pas tes paroles pour tes amis, mais malheureuse, 
Ils vont pleurer s’ils les écouteraient, chère.

Silver Slipper
Courtesy of

The 1929 New Orleans recording "La Valse De Pecaniere" (#15852) is an ode to the community of Pecaniere in St. Landry Parish.  Located between the towns of Port Barre and Arnaudville, Pecaniere was originally named Prairie Gros Chevreuil.  It was founded by one of Moise's earliest colonial French ancestors, Dr. Francois Robin, and was renamed after large pecan groves in the area.6  

Moise's melody found it's way into other songs that year such as Bartmon Montet & Joswell Dupuis's  "L'Abandonner (The Forsaken)" and  Amede Ardoin's "La Valse A Abe".  During the 1920s, Pecaniere was home to a popular dance-hall called the "Silver Slipper" owned by the Dupuis Brothers, Herman and Clayton.4  Moise recalls:
When I was young, Amede Ardoin was playing with Leo Soileau at my brother-in-law's Pecaniere dance hall and he would bring crowds that the people couldn't come in.1  
Clarion News
Oct 10, 1929

Poor woman, I begged you to come back, well, with me,
It's the end for your good days with your man,
Say "Bye bye", dear, say "Bye bye", well, dear friends,
Well, for you're coming back, coming back, it's a good day, dear.

Dear little girl, so, never believed that you'd come back,
With your man, over there, over there to the house, ye yaille.

Oh, ye yaille, so, how, well, will I handle this, well, all alone?
I want you to walk with your man, oh dearie.
Well, I won't listen to your words (you told) your friends, well, poor woman,
They would cry if they heard, dear.

Post-war zydeco musician Clifton Chenier, who grew up next to the Silver Slipper in Pecaniere, recalled the segregated "two-room dance club".  Chenier would perform on the white side of the club one week, and for the black side the next.3  

  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. The Kingdom of Zydeco By Michael Tisserand
  4. Daily World (Opelousas, Louisiana) 09 Sep 1977
  5. The Ville Platte Gazette (Ville Platte, Louisiana) 21 Nov 1985
  6. Discussions with Fr. Jason Vidrine
  7. Lyrics by Smith S

Release Info:
NO263 La Valse De Pecaniere | Vocalion 15852
NO264 Le Cleuses De Negre Francaise | Vocalion 15852

The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (Yazoo, 2006)

Monday, January 11, 2021

"Lover's Waltz" - Louis Spell

Feature Records was created by Jay Denton "J.D." Miller in the late 1940s to market the music of south Louisiana.  Local groups around Acadia Parish approached Miller to record songs in his new studio in Crowley.  Native of Indian Bayou, the Spell family eventually moved to Crowley where Louis formed the French Serenaders.  Sometimes referred to as "One-Eyed Spell", he had been blinded by an accident early in life. According to his daughter Margie,
At a house party, he got stuck with a bobby pin in his eye.1  

Moi j'connais, chère 'tite fille,
La plus belle, chère 'tite fille, que mon j'aimais,
C'est pour ça moi j'te vu,
Pour restez à la maison, mais, avec moi.

Mon aller au si loin,
Pour me voir les 'tite fille dans la Louisiane,
C’est le belle qui m’aimes autant,
C’est pour ça mon je tes mander de viens tant donc.

Daily World
Apr 23, 1954

The French Serenaders played around Acadia Parish from 1949 to about 1953. He recorded for J.D. Miller at his studio in Crowley where his group waxed the "Lover's Waltz" (#1040) around 1952.  The ensemble featured Phillip Abshire on guitar, Tan Benoit on fiddle, and Elton Harrington on guitar.  
According to Louis' son, Paul,
My mom could speak French, but my daddy couldn't.  He could sing in French, but couldn't speak it.1  

French Serenaders
Elton Harrington, Tan Benoit
Louis Spell, Mabel Spell, poss. Phillip Abshire

Having played on the same stages as Aldus Roger in the mid-50s, Aldus recorded a similar song in 1958 known as the "Midway Waltz".  Edval Joseph "E.J." Abshire, native of Lyon's Point community, was a good family friend.  Affectionately known as "Nom" Abshire, he and his cousin Phillip Abshire were known to sing in the band together.   Elton Harrington lived in Crowley and soon after filled in for groups such as Claby Richard's "Rayne Friendly Playboys" and Sidney Leblanc's "Louisiana Playboys".  Record producer Lee Lavergne remembered his short career.
They had a KSIG Barn Dance and they would have local guys. They had a French band there by the name of Louis Spell (who recorded for Feature), accordion, guitar and drums. You would gather around the radio and listen that. That was fantastic!2  

I know, dear little girl,
The most beautiful girl, dear little girl, that I loved,
It's that I see you,
Staying at home, well, with me.

I'm going so far,
To see the little girl in Louisiana,
It's the beautiful girl that loves me so much,
That's why I'm begging you to come back so much.

  1. Discussions with Margie and Paul T
  2. South To Louisiana by John Broven
  3. Lyrics by Herman M
Release Info:
The Fifty Cent Song | F-1040-A
Lover's Waltz | F-1040-B

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

Monday, January 4, 2021

"Le Valse De Mon Rêve (Waltz Of My Dream)" - Joe and Cleoma Falcon

Joe Falcon and his wife Cleoma Falcon had been the star Cajun musicians throughout the Cajun countryside from 1928 to 1929.  However, as the Depression took hold, their recording career went on hiatus.  It wouldn't be until 1934 when a different set of record scouts arrived in south Louisiana looking for the tried and true Cajun artists of the 20s.  Eli Oberstein, a field scout with RCA's new Bluebird division, attempted to do just that when the Falcons were invited to San Antonio.  Joe's "Le Valse De Mon Rêve (Waltz Of My Dream)" (#2188) backed by his wife Cleoma on guitar, expressed a lover's desire to see his love interest once more—this time, through the viewpoint of a dreamer. 

Tu connais, malheureuse, ça t'as fait, mais, z-avec moi,
Oui, chère catin, ça c'est dur pour moi endurer,
Moi j'connais j'ai pas bien fait, mais, j'aime quand même, jolie fille,
Eh, catin, donne-moi une chance avant de mourir.

Tu voudrais, jolie fille, t'en revenir avec moi-même,
Oui, malheureuse, tu voirais pour toi-même,
Moi me cru dans tout ça que le bon dieu me permettrai,
Oui, malheureuse, pour essayer de faire (ai)mer toi.

Moi j'me tarde de me voir, m'en revenir a la maison,
Oui, malheureuse, de plus trouver personne pour moi,
Moi j'vois pas quoi j'vas faire sur la terre, malheureuse, 
Oui, chère catin, ça c'est dur, ça pour moi.

"Les Falcons"
Cleoma and Joe Falcon

Courtesy of Bob Tooke

Oberstein worked with many other ethnic artists during his stint with RCA including Lydia Mendoza and King Nawahi's Hawaiians.  Accompanying the Falcons that day was black Creole accordionist Amede Ardoin and white Creole fiddler Dennis McGee at San Antonio's Texas Hotel. The city of San Antonio was virtually a world away, both culturally and geographically, for most Cajuns. The music filling the dance halls and streets of San Antonio during the 1930s sounded different in style and in language.  For recording companies, Texas seemed to provide as much talent to record executives up north as did Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana.  During the decade, both Dallas and San Antonio would become Meccas for Cajuns looking for outlets to record.1       

Daily Advertiser
Sep 14, 1934

You know, miserable one, what you've done, well, with me,
Yes, dear doll, it's hard for me to endure,
I know I haven't been doing well, however, I love you nevertheless, pretty girl,
Hey, pretty doll, give me another chance before I die.

You would like, pretty girl, to come back with me,
Yes, miserable one, you'll see for yourself,
I believe in all of that, which the good Lord will allow me,
Yes, miserable one, to try to make you love (me).

I'm too late to see, returning home,
Yes, miserable one, to never find anyone for me,
I do not see what I'll do on earth, miserable one,
Yes, dear doll, it's hard for me.
Although not a major hit among the Cajun music buying audience, the melody did however influence other post-war recordings such as Austin Pitre's "Redell Waltz" and Nathan's "Avalon Waltz".  Either concerned about appealing to a male-dominated Cajun market or misunderstanding her importance, RCA failed to mention Cleoma’s name on the session notes.  Each of the record sides gave credit to “Joseph Falcon”, leaving Cleoma’s legacy as nothing more than the following footnote: “Singing with accordion and guitar by Mrs. Falcon”.1   

  1. "Allons A Lafayette: The First Families of Commercial Cajun Music" by Wade Falcon
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:

BS-83850-1 Le Valse De Mon Rêve (Waltz Of My Dream) | Bluebird B-2188-A
BS-83851-1 Vous Etes Si Dous (You Are So Sweet) | Bluebird B-2188-B