Sunday, June 20, 2021

"What's The Matter Now?" - Walker Brothers

The pre-war Cajun recording era had a surprising set of artists that many rarely consider today.  Accordionist Lawrence Walker, more known for his honky-tonk post-war career, had formed a small group in the late 1920s to bring his mixture of American blues and French music to the surrounding parishes.  As a teenager he formed the Walker Brothers group with his brother Elton. Featuring accordion, fiddle and guitar, the band played both Cajun and hillbilly music.  Soon, they were invited to record for both Brunswick and RCA.   In 1935, Walker waxed a pair of bluesy English compositions at RCA Bluebird's mobile recording facility in New Orleans.2  

With guitarists Junior and Aldus "Popeye" Broussard added to the group, their professional sound has been preserved on Bluebird recordings like "What's The Matter Now" (#2199).  The droning guitar strum with simple accordion riffs gave the traditional Cajun sound an added dimension.1   It arrived on the heels of similar recordings of the era, such as the Breaux Brothers' "Le Blues De Petit Chien".

Lawrence Walker

Tell me now, pretty baby, baby,
What's the matter now?
(You) stayed out late last night,
You don't need no papa, no how, Lord, Lord.

Let me tell you something, baby,
I got up on my mind,
Let me tell you something, baby,
That's keeps me worried all the time.

Oh, baby, what's the matter now?
You got me worried now,
But I won't be worried long.

  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven
  2. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  3. Lyrics by Jordy A
Release Info:
BS-87614-1 Alberta | Bluebird B-2199-A
BS-87615-1 What's The Matter Now? | Bluebird B-2199-B

BS-87614-1 Alberta | Montgomery Ward M-4882-A 
BS-87615-1 What's The Matter Now? | Montgomery Ward M-4882-B

Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)

Friday, June 4, 2021

"Tortope D'Osrun (Tortope of Osrun)" - Amede Ardoin

Cajun and Zydeco music would not be what it is today without Amédé Ardoin and his musical recordings of the late 1920s and early 30s. His fortés include his uniquely eloquent lyrics his resonating voice and his driving accordion virtuosity. The equanimity in which this slight black French-speaker composed performed and recorded his songs attests to the high regard held by those who knew him. Amédé lived the blues and injected his spirit into our music.2 

Oh, oh, quoi faire, je m'en va,
Tu m'abandonnes, yé yaille, tu m'abandonnes,
Ayoù je vas aller, chére, n'importe quel bord qu'il va,
T'es pas là, yé yaille, ça me fait de la peine.

Oh, yé yaille, ça me fait de la peine à mon,
Ayoù je vas aller, pour être capable te voir,
Quand tu me passes, toi, tu reviens jamais,
Avant samedi au soir, après midi.

Oh, yé yaille, comment je vas faire?
Comment je vas faire, yé yaille?
J'suis après partir, tous les samedis au soir,
Ta mom veut pas,
Que mon je t'emmene en nulle part,
Comment je vas faire?

Amede Ardoin

Based on a Joe Falcon recording entitled "Osson", Ardoin's 1934 "Tortope D'Osrun" (#17007) was an ode to the small community of Osson and contained the same lyrical theme he used in much of his other recordings.  Left to his own devices, Ardoin's solo work for Decca Records in New York City that December became the last creative pieces he ever recorded.  Melodies such as the one borrowed from the American standard "Rubber Dolly", which inspired other Cajun songs such as Adam Trahan's "The Waltz Of Our Little Town", Angelas Lejeune's "Bayou Pon Pon" and Austin Pitre's "High Point Two Step".  Musician Moise Robin recalls meeting Amede Ardoin,

When I was young, Amédé Ardoin was playing with Leo Soileau at my brother-in-law dance hall and he would bring crowds that the people couldn't come in.  He was a good singer. And that's what the people were [there] for.1

Oh, oh, what's been done, i'm going,
You abandoned me, ye yaille, you abandoned me,
Where am I going to go, dear, no matter which side that I go,
You aren't there, ye yaille, that hurts me.

Oh, ye yaille, that makes it painful to me,
Where am I going to go, in order to be able to see you,
When you passed by me, you never returned,
Before Saturday evening, that afternoon.

Oh, ye yaille, how will I handle this?
How will I handle this, ye yaille?
I am leaving, every Saturday night,
You mom doesn't want,
That I bring you anywhere,
How will I do this?

Release Info:
39198-A Valse Brunette (Brunette Waltz) | Decca 17007 A
39199-A Tortope D'Osrun (Tortope of Osrun) | Decca 17007 B

Amadé Ardoin – Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 6 : Amadé Ardoin – The First Black Zydeco Recording Artist (1928–1938) (Old Timey)
I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)