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.
Courtesy of LouisianaDanceHalls.com
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
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
NO263 La Valse De Pecaniere | Vocalion 15852
NO264 Le Cleuses De Negre Francaise | Vocalion 15852
The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (Yazoo, 2006)