Tuesday, December 20, 2022

"Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier" - Leo Soileau & Moise Robin

I Had Met You In The Fog!  Fiddler Leo Soileau was exposed to music at an early age. His father was an amateur fiddler who was very adept at playing many French Cajun songs.  By age 12, Leo, too, could ably handle a fiddle and bow and play the traditional music learned from his father.1  Leo recalled,
My papa and his brother would plough all day and come in and play music every night.  My papa used to take his fiddle out after supper.  I can see him now.2  

Moi, j'connais, moi j'ai vu, dans le brouillard, hier matin,
J'ai demandé à ton papa pourquoi tu viens pas à la maison.

Ton papa et ta maman z'é (?)m'as dit, malheureuse,
C'est trop jeune pour tu t'aimé avec ton neg', oh, yé yaille,
Quelles nouvelles que moi j'attends, chère 'tite fille, ça crève mon cœur,
Mais comment donc  moi j'vas faire, moi tout seul, malheureuse.

C'est la danse que j’étais z'avec toi, mais malheureuse. 
Mais (re)garde encore qui sont aprés faire avec nous autre aujourd'hui. 
Ecoute pas ton papa (et) de ta maman, oh, chere 'tite fille. 
Et tu vas venir dans la maison z'avec moi d'un jour à venir.

Moise Robin

Cajun musician Moise Robin was the second accordionist that Leo chose to work with.  The two began performing together in 1928, shortly after Soileau’s first partner, Mayeus LaFleur, was shot and killed.  During the summer and fall of 1929, they recorded for three different companies: Paramount, Victor, and Vocalion.  Together, they traveled to the Gennett Recording Studio, Starr Piano Company Building, Whitewater Gorge Park in Richmond, Indiana around July of 1929.  The session produced "Je T'ai Recontre Dans Le Brouillard" (#12908). The accordion melody could have been inspired by John Bertrand's "Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin", however, the vocals are unique on their own. Misspelled as "Je Te Recontrai de la Broulier", Moise sings of young girl chasing an older man, a song most likely self-composed.   Moise recalled,
I made the songs myself, when I was young. My dances and my tunes and my songs, I would write in French and understand my own language, you see. So I would compose my songs and write them down and practice them.4  

I know, I saw through the fog, yesterday morning,
I asked your dad why you didn't come home.

Your dad and your mom told me they're unhappy,
That's too young for you to be in love with an older man, oh yé yaille,
That news I awaited for, dear little girl, burst my heart,
Well, how am I going to make it all by myself, oh my.

This is the dance I had with you, well oh my,
Well, look who's still with us after another day,
Don't listen to your dad and your mom, oh dear little girl,
And come to the house with me another day in the future.

When the recording session was done, the engineers began producing the recordings on 78 RPM records.  Unfortunately, when it was time to press the previous song "La Valse De La Rue Canal", Paramount engineers mistakenly replaced it with audio of "Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier".   Today, the original Soileau and Robin recording of "La Valse De La Rue Canal" has yet to surface.  

  1. The Ville Platte Gazette (Ville Platte, Louisiana) 06 Feb 1969
  2. Times Picayune. Leo Soileau. 1975.
  3. Image courtesy of the Arhoolie Foundation
  4. https://arhoolie.org/moise-robin/

Release Info:
15345-A Ce Pas La Pienne Tu Pleur | Paramount 12908-A
15348-A Je Te Recontrai De La Broulier | Paramount 12908-B

The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (Yazoo, 2006)

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

"Old Time Waltz" - Texas Melody Boys

Robert William "Pee Wee" Pitre was one of the single session Cajun recording artist of the early 1950s.  A native of Kinder, Louisiana, he was a radio entertainer and accordion player in Eunice.  He moved to Texas at some point after WWII and formed a group he referred to as the Texas Melody Boys. 

During his early years, Pitre worked along side Eddie Shuler's band and performed on his radio show.   Eventually, Shuler hosted a stage show where Pitre showed up as a one-man-band, dressed in blackface minstrel.2    

Oh, mignone, moi j'connais, tu va vieux nègre,
Tu va vieux nègre, mais, ça t'as fais dedans vieux nègre.

Eh, mignone, moi j'connais, tu va vieux nègre,
T'es misère, mais, mon tout seule à la maison,
Eh, catin, t'oublie faire, mais, ça t'as fais,
T'oublie faire, mais, ça t'as fais, dedans vieux nègre.

Liberty Vindicator
Jun 17th, 1954
Pee Wee moved to Texas where he worked alongside fiddler Ralph Richardson.  Ralph, originally from Lake Charles, heard Pee Wee playing on KPLC.  According to researcher Lyle Ferbrache,
He was happy go-lucky and was a very smooth dancer, drawing his friends to follow him from club to club. Pee Wee also had a record on his own Pee Wee label with fiddle player Ralph Richardson.1  

Pitre's reputation as a solo entertainer made the newspapers during a halftime football show on the field.  
"The second quarter saw Private Peewee Pitre, who was recently awarded a Hollywood contract which he plans to take up after the duration, amaze the crowd with songs, dances, and snappy patter. He scored heavily with musical imitations without instruments and tap danced his way to a touchdown as the half ended, with a glass of water balanced on his head."3  -Lake Charles American Press

Oh, cutie, I know you left, your old man,
You left your old man, well, what you've done to your old man.

Hey, cutie, I know you left your old man,
You are in misery, well, I'm all alone at home,
Hey, pretty doll, you've forgotten, well, what you've done,
You've forgotten, well, what you've done to your old man.

Pee Wee Pitre
"Old Time Waltz" (#500) turned out to be his rendition of the classic "Jolie Blonde", first recorded by the Amede Breaux.  Pitre's repertoire of accordion songs were quite limited according to the Vanicor family.  After Ellis and Orsy Vanicor agreed to accompany Pitre at a performance, he played the same songs over and over, forcing the dance feel long and tiresome.  Fiddler Wilson Granger shared the same experience with Pitre and his antics.

Pee Wee Pitre was slick. When we’d play, like at the Shamrock Club. He’d come there about 10, 11 o’clock. He’d say (motioning toward a distant table),  “A bunch of people over there asked me to play ‘Jolie Blonde’ for them.” He was lying, but we’d let him play it.4   

I went there one night to play music with him. Bill Mott was playing accordion with Pitre that night. He wouldn’t give us a chance to tune our music. He’d make us play whether we were ready or not. He was slick. He could talk himself into anything.4 

  1. Post War Cajun 78 RPM Nuggets - Blues & Rhythm. Lyle Ferbrache. 2014. 
  2. The Eunice News Eunice, Louisiana · Friday, November 29, 1946
  3. "Cajun Dancehall Heyday" by Ron Yule
  4. Interview with Wilson Granger. Andrew Brown. 2005.
Release Info:
Ain’t No More | Khoury's 500 A
Old Time Waltz | Khoury's 500 B

Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Volume 1 (Arhoolie, 1995)

Thursday, October 20, 2022

"Chinaball Special" - Veteran Playboys

Hailing form the same Pointe Noire area west of Church Point that produced the remarkable Lejeune clan of singers and musicians, Alphée Bergeron had played before the war (including alongside Amede Ardoin and Mayuse Lafleur), but like many of his contemporaries, he had put aside his accordion for two reasons: first, because he felt he should tend to the serious business of raising his family and second, because accordion driven Cajun music had faded from the scene.  In the years following WWII, many were growing uncomfortable with the widespread loss of ethnic identity caused by social stigmatization.  Legendary Cajun musicians such as Iry Lejeune, Lawrence Walker, Austin Pitre and Aldus Roger launched a renaissance of Cajun music culture.  Another of these pioneers was Alphée Bergeron.2 

Hé, jolie petite blonde, j'aimais tant, 
Oh, petite mignonne pour moi, 
Hé, pour faire donc toi t'as eu pour me quitter moi comme ça.

Hé, 'tite fille, mais gardez donc de ma maison, 
Hé, mignonne,(je) m'ennuie de toi, 
Hé, pour faire donc je pourrai pas te revoir une fois encore.

Hé, petite, moi j'voudrais, mais, te demander, 
Oh, c'est bien éyou t'as été?, 
Ouais, parce que moi je suis misérable quand je vais à Duralde asteure.  

Shirley Bergeron, Bill Matte, Adam Hebert,
Raymond Lafleur, Alphee Bergeron,
Wallace Lafleur
In 1947, the musical climate had changed. He dusted off his instrument and formed his aplty-named Veteran Playboys.  He teamed up with fiddler Adam Hebert, a veteran himself, in 1948 in which they recorded the "Chinaball Special" (#1012), named after a dance-hall they frequented called the Chinaball Club in Bristol, Louisiana.  It featured a melody commonly associated with the song "B.O. Sparkle" by Leroy Broussard.  According to author and collector, Lyle Ferbrache,
This is truly one of the great post-war records. It was the first super group of Cajun music.  Adam Hebert sings and plays fiddle with  Alphée Bergeron playing accordion.  Alphée's son, Shirley Bergeron, Bill Matte and Raymond Lafleur played in this great band as well.  In time, all the members went on to their own successes.1   


Alphee Bergeron

Hey, pretty little blond, I loved so much,
Oh, little cutie for me,
Hey, so what's done, you had to leave me like that.

Hey, little girl, well, so look, I'm home,
Hey, cutie, I miss you.
Hey, so what's done, I won't be able to see you again.

Hey, little one, I would like, well, to ask you,
Oh, it's good wherever you are?
Yeah, because I am miserable when I go to Duralde, right now. 

Alphée gave up farming after Hurricane Audrey wiped out his crops in 1957.  However, he was still able to make a living as a musician and continued to play music alongside Adam Hebert and Bill Matte.  

Adam Hebert
Hebert was a gifted song writer whose music is at the center of traditional Cajun repertoire.  Adam constructed his first fiddle as a child out of a chocolate box and screen wire, later progressing to one his brother made out of a cigar box and horse hair. When his father overheard him playing for his sister and her beau in the parlor, he realized Adam's talent and ordered a real violin out of the Montgomery Ward catalog.  Adam, then began playing hose dances at age 13 and later recalled how he approached singing,

Some musicians just count from their mouth when they sing, they just speak. I approach my music not from my mouth, it comes straight from my heart.3  

Alphée continued to play in bands until the the 1970s and quit when he got sick.  His son Shirley, who was also an accomplished musician, stated,
Daddy was a very comical fellow and very serious at his work as a farmer. He was a hard working accordion player at the dance jobs. He played until he got physically unable to keep up But his music lives on through the records.  His music is still popular.4  

  1. Post War Cajun 78 RPM Nuggets – Lyle Ferbrache
  2. Barry J. Ancelet.  The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 17 Sep 1997
  3. Adam Hebert.  The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana) 12 Oct 2010
  4. Daily World (Opelousas, Louisiana ) 12 Apr 1991
  5. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
Eunice Waltz | Fais-Do-Do F1012
Chinaball Special| Fais-Do-Do F1012

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

Saturday, October 8, 2022

"Grand Mamou" - Nathan Abshire

While he mirrored the midcentury infatuation with country-flavored honky-tonk music—fiddle-driven and slide-guitar-embellished—Nathan Abshire later helped lead a resurgence of more traditionally crafted Cajun music with the sound of the old-time button accordion reinstalled at its center. This was the music that had fueled both bals des maisons (house parties) and fais do-dos (weekend dances) in the old days.2   

After the war, Nathan's big break came when Ernest Thibodeaux and Wilson Granger convinced the Avalon Club owner, Quincy Davis, that the band needed an accordion player.   Wilson recalled:
That’s where I met him, when I started playing with him. I had heard of him. I know he was from Riceville. Nathan didn’t know much of anything. When they (Quincy Davis) went and got him to play music, he was fixing stoves. Cooking stoves. You know, there’s not a big business in fixing stoves.  Davis had him on the radio five days a week. He got very popular.1   

Eh, mais, t'en aller à grand Mamou,
C'est pour voir les belles 'tites blondes, mais, malheureux.

Eh, jolie 'tite fille, criminelle,
M'a quitte pour t'en aller z-avec vaurien,
Moi je te souhaite tout le malheur que tu peux avoir,
Tu connais j'mérite pas ça, mais, t'après faire. 

It wouldn't be long before Quincy found record label owner Virgil Bozman and convinced him to record Nathan and his band to help promote his Pine Grove Club near Jennings.  Bozman took advantage of this agreement and recorded at least ten songs for his Oklahoma Tornadoes label, starting in May of 1949 at the local KPLC radio station in Lake Charles.  One of these songs was the popular 1935 Leo Soileau tune called "Grand Mamou" (#106). It was a song that Leo had recorded earlier as "Basile" with Mayuse Lafleur in 1928.
Nathan Abshire
Trent Oubre Studio

His band during this recording is believed to have consisted of Will Kegley on fiddle, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Jim Baker on bass, and special vocalist Roy Broussard.  After the OT recordings were produced, many musicians began comparing his style to the more popular  Cajun accordionist Iry Lejeune.  When Nathan's first fiddler, Wilson Granger, was asked to compare his style against Iry Lejeune, he stated:
Nathan played the smoothest accordion, in my opinion, than anybody else.  Iry was a hell of an accordion player.   He could play two-steps like nobody else. But Nathan was easier to follow than Iry, put it that way.1  

Hey, well, you're going to big Mamou,
It's to see the pretty little blondes, well, oh my.

Hey, pretty little girl, it's terrible,
I'm leaving for you went away with a scoundrel,
I wish you all the misfortune you can have,
You know I didn't deserve that, well, what you're doing.

Nathan continued to record, and travel, into his later years.  In 1970, he and the Balfa Brothers performed "Grand Mamou" during a Cajun concert in New York City. 

  1. Wilson Granger interview. Andrew Brown. 2005.
  2. https://64parishes.org/entry/nathan-abshire
  3. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
106-A Grand Mamou | OT 106-A
106-B Lake Charles Two Step | OT 106-B

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

Sunday, September 4, 2022

"Louisiana Boogie" - Harry Choates

Cajun swing fiddler Harry Choates never worried or cared about he daily trials and tribulations of life.  Such things as far as he was concerned could be drowned in a liquor bottle.  Harry was addicted to the music.  The feelings of others were of no concern to him.  After the breakup of his first band, he continued to find recording opportunities; this time for Macy Henry's label with a song called "Louisiana Boogie" (#134). 

In this April 1950 recording session, he re-purposed an old Breaux Brothers 1929 recording of "Vas Y Carrement", better known as "Step It Fast".  Although not an actual "boogie woogie" tune, he took the quick paced melody and make it even faster, giving it a Texas swing flavor. 

Moi laisser, pour t'en aller,
Moi, j'connais, j'mérite pas ça,
Quoi t'as fait, ce pas de rien,
Eh, ça m'fait de la peine.

Eh petite, vilain moyens,
Moi j'connais, ça m'fait de la peine,
Moi j'connais, ça m'fait de la peine,
Quoi t'as fait, mais, pauvre vieux nègre.

B.C. Jennings, Harry Choates,
unknown, unknown

Joe Watson Collection

No longer with his original Melody Boys, he regrouped with Macy Henry's studio musicians at the ACA Recording Studio in Houston, Texas accompanied by Earl Rebert on steel guitar, possibly Sue Romero on bass, and possibly Louis Oltremari on piano.   Fellow side musician, Roland "R.A." Faulk accompanied Harry to Macy's Recording Studio in Houston in April of 1950.  Although not on the recordings, R.A. was now considered a part of Harry's band.  He witnessed the decline of a musician's musician during the recording session. He could still play his fiddle, but the alcohol had taken its toll.  It was as if Harry was just going through the motions recording, so that he could earn enough money to tide him over until the next time.1  
I'm leaving, for you left me,
I know, I don't deserve that,
What you've done, it's nothing,
Hey, it's not worth it.

Hey, little one, (your) naughty ways,
I know, it's not worth it,
I know, it's not worth it,
What you've done, well, (to your) poor old man.

According to Tim Knight, whenever Harry would report to Macy's studio, he would sit against the wall with elbows resting on his knees, his much traveled fiddle crooked in his arm. Usually he was drunk, but he could still play.1  Although he performed with Jesse James & His Gang on radio station KTBC after the disbanding of the Melody Boys in 1951, Choates suffering ended a few months later.

Macy herself was a strong, steadfast lady who used the subtitle, "Queen of Hits", showing off her female proprietress which was rare for the time.  When Joe Bihari (of Modern Music's Bihari brothers) decided to check on his inventory at Macy's distribution shop, she exploded, telling him:
I paid for those records.  They're mine. Get your ass out of here!

By June 1951, many of Macy's signature artists moved to Modern Records and Aladdin Records ending the Macy's label production.

  1. Poor Hobo: The Tragic Life of Harry Choates, a Cajun Legend by Tim Knight
  2. http://therecordlive.com/2009/12/16/harry-choate-and-jolie-blon-cajun-musics-founding-father/
  3. Blues Encyclopedia edited by Edward Komara
  4. Mojo Hand: The Life and Music of Lightnin' Hopkins By Timothy J. O'Brien
  5. Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues By Roger Wood
  6. Billboard Magazine, Aug 13, 1949
  7. Billboard Magazine, Jul 2, 1949
  8. http://www.rootsandrhythm.com/roots/NEWSLETTER%20130/newsletter130_blues_6.htm
  9. http://home.earthlink.net/~jaymar41/labels_five.html
  10. Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers By John Broven
  11. Jim Reeves: His Untold Story By Larry Jordan

Release Info:
ACA 1556 Louisiana Boogie | Macy's 134-A
ACA 1560 What's The Use | Macy's 134-B

Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

"Oberlin" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

Cajun accordionist Amede Ardoin himself was a sought-after dance musician who played both white Cajun gatherings and black la-la dances and was known for his ability to improvise lyrics about those in attendance; a practice which sometimes got him in trouble. It might seems strange that a black Creole musician who left little more of a trace on the world than 34 scratchy recordings would come to be known as the father of a musical style rooted in the culture of French-Canadian exiles. In this sense, the record stands as a testament to the musical creativity happening in Louisiana during the first half of the 20th Century. Around the same time Ardoin was mastering his accordion, musicians like Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden were in nearby Storyville, New Orleans, shaping ragtime music into jazz.3 According to journalist Ed McKeon:

He played in a rhythm-heavy syncopated style and sang with a passion unmatched even to this day in Cajun and Creole song.1  

Oh, 'coute mes paroles, ye yaille,

Comment, mon je vas faire, mon j'm'en vas,

J'vas faire, j'vas faire, mon j'm'en vas, catin,

Où c'est t'as prender*, malheureuse?

Oh, quoi faire, t'as m'fais ca, maman,

Comment mon je vas faire, mon j'm'en vas,

Mon j'm'en vas, m'en vas à la maison, maman,

Mon cœur fais si mal qu'à jongler.

Oh chère!

Mon j'm'en vas, mes parents, mon j'm'en vas,

Oh, c'est tous les dimanches au soir,

Mais, les samedis, tous les samedis au soir,

Maman, j'après aller pour mon t'voir. 

Oh, oh, ye yaille, ye yaille,

J'suis loin d'la maison,

J'connais pas equand je vas m'retourner, ye yaille,

J'm'en vas, mon tout seul, mais, 'tit cœur,

Mes parents veulent pas je reste jamais avec toi,

Quique* (chose), va rester, j'ai pas d'argent.

Eli Oberstein
Along the outskirts of San Antonio in 1934, a small group of recording engineers, alongside producer Eli Oberstein, gathered various folk performers, including Amédé Ardoin, in two rooms of the Texas Hotel to make some records. Despite his stylistic affinity with the white French music of rural Louisiana, the six tunes Ardoin documented that day (for the Bluebird/Victor company) included some distinct differences foreshadowing the future of black Creole music.2  According to music producer, Christopher King, the combination white and black musicians during this time period was quite unique,

It was one of the first instances of that actually occurring in Cajun music. And it actually is a rare occurrence in pre-war music taken as a whole. But as you can hear from the recordings, they're so perfectly integrated and relaxed with each other.

Oh, listen to my words, ye yaille,

How will I do this, i'm going,

I'm doing this, I'm doing this, I'm going, pretty doll,

Where are you going to go, naughty woman?

Oh, why do you do that to me, little mama,

How will I do this, I'm going,

I'm going, I'm going home, little mama,

Oh, my heart aches thinking about this.

Oh, dear!

I'm leaving my family, i'm leaving,

Oh, it's every Sunday night,

But, the Saturdays, the Saturday evenings,

Little mama, I'm leaving to go to see you.

Oh, oh, ye yaille, ye yaille,

I am so far away at home,

I don't know when I will return, ye yaille,

I'm leaving, all alone, well, little sweetheart,

My parents never wanted me to stay with you,

Whatever, I'm staying, I have no money.

He and fiddle player Dennis McGee recorded "Oberlin", an ode to the small town in Louisiana.  Not to be confused with his "One Step de Oberlin", the Texas Hotel session marks another significant development. Although Ardoin had generally established a reputation for playing in a syncopated style more consistent with his Creole legacy than with straight Cajun music, none of his catalog of thirty-four recordings included any percussion instrument accompaniment.2 

Portions of the tune resemble Cleoma Breaux's classic recording of "Mon Coeur T'appelle".   The greatest legacy of the song would be it's usage as Iry Lejeune's "Te Mone" in the 1950s.  According to accordionist Cory McCauley,

In Oberlin, Amédée and Dennis played at a dancehall called The Golden Gate, which was located just south of town. I think this was the last stop on a circuit they would play that would bring them from Châtaignier, Eunice, Basile, Duralde, L'Anse Chaumont, Soileau and Oberlin. I've heard stories of them buying moonshine and sleeping under a tree, staying gone for two weeks at a time. Playing a dance every night. La vie de musicien!5  

  1. http://www.downhomemusic.com/product/amede-ardoin-im-never-comin-back/
  2. Southeast Texas: Hot House of Zydeco by R. Wood.
  3. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/03/amede-ardoin-cajun-zydeco-mardi-gras
  4. https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=135638265
  5. Discussions with Cory M - 6-8-2024
  6. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
BS-83856-1 | Les Blues De Crowley (Crowley Blues) | Bluebird B-2190-A
BS-83857-1 | Oberlin | Bluebird B-2190-B

I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Cajun Capers: Cajun Music 1928-1954 (Proper, 2005)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

Friday, July 15, 2022

"Creole Stomp" - Pee Wee Broussard

Chester Isaac 'Pee Wee' Broussard was born in Henderson, Louisiana into a musical Cajun family. His father, Sosthène Broussard, played mandolin and clarinet as well as accordion, while his grandfather played accordion and fiddle. Two brothers played guitar: Jules played rhythm and Jim played "4-string guitar".1  

In 1952, a New Iberia DJ arranged Pee Wee to record at J.D. Miller's studio in Crowley along with Walter Guidry on steel guitar, and Nathan Latiolais on drums.1   Popularized by Aldus Roger, "Creole Stomp" (#1051) is one of the most covered post-war Cajun instrumentals.  The group added two Breaux Bridge natives, rhythm guitarist Andy Johnson and fiddler Jean "Kaiser" Perez.   

Kaiser Perez played fiddle with several musicians around the Lafayette and St. Martin area.   His aunt gave family nicknames based on leaders and generals, in this case, naming Jean after Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm.2     

Daily Advertiser
Dec 2, 1952

Teche News

Perez, who had spent time serving in WWII, had stumbled into music quite literally.  According to son Rickey Perez, 
While overseas in Germany, he found two fiddles in a building he was searching.  He took one and shipped it back home.  When he got home, his mother handed him the package she received and he started playing with it until he learned something.2  

Perez spent his time filling in with many bands such as Belton Richard and playing on the TV show Passe Partout.  In the 1970s, he open up Kaiser's Place dance and pool hall in Breaux Bridge. 

  1. Acadian Two Step.  Bruce Bastin. Liner notes.
  2. Discussions with Rickey P
Release Info:
Chere Tu Tu | Feature F-1051-A
Creole Stomp | Feature F-1051-B


Acadian Two Step (Flyright, 1987)
Acadian All Star Special - The Pioneering Cajun Recordings Of J.D. Miller (Bear, 2011)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

"Pauvre Garcon" - Falcon Trio

By 1936, it had been over a year since Joe and Cleoma Falcon had stepped foot in a studio before they had scored another contract with RCA.  Eli Oberstein and other recording executives had arrived the week before Mardi Gras and began loading their equipment into the second floor of the building.   There, they planned a three-day session where bands such as Bo Carter and the Arthur Smith Trio were waiting for their turn.1    

Feeling the need for a fiddle player, Joe convinced Crowley native and musician, Moise “Mose” Morgan join their duo.  Mose had learned to play the fiddle as a young child and grew up learning popular tunes.  The trio recorded a song Joe called "Pauvre Garçon (Poor Boy)" (#2185).  In typical form, Joe often held the verses beyond the standard meter, allowing the chord changes to match the lyrical changes. 

Comment tu crois, mais, que moi j’peux faire, chère?

Mais, avant hier soir, mais, t’après faire avec moi,

Moi j’vois pas quoi moi j’va faire, moi seul.

Garde-donc toi, ‘tite fille qui crois bien pourquoi toi t’as dit, toi chère,

Il y a pas, mais, si longtemps tu m’as donc promis de jamais oublier,

Mais, ‘garde-donc toi t’après faire avec moi,

Tu devrais donc, chère, user ta tête, ouais, tu vois les promesses,

J’mérite, mais, oui, pas tout la misère que toi t’après me faire avec moi.

Au jour d’aujourd’hui, mais, moi j’connais, chère,

Tu vas r’venir, oui, mais, donc me r’joindre, oui chère,

Mais, pour des bonnes excuses à moi avant longtemps.

Tu connais, ‘tite fille, mais j’mérite pas, mais, donc tout ça, toi chère,

Le seul Bon Dieu va m’mettre la main, ça c’est moi, oui, pour toi, oui chère,

Mais, malheureuse, ‘garde moi donc, moi j’va faire, oui, tout seul.

Joe Falcon
Courtesy of Squalor Illustrations

Other bands such as the Hackberry Ramblers and the Dixie Ramblers were on the docket that day, awaiting their turn to record as well.  To avoid possible conflicts with any earlier contract that Joe and Cleoma may have signed with the Kapps at Decca, Oberstein got creative and renamed the group, The Falcon Trio. When RCA Bluebird pressings arrived in stores, eager buyers discovered Falcon Trio songs stamped on the flip-side of some Hackberry Ramblers recordings as well as on the flip-side of some Dixie Ramblers pressings.1  

How do you think, well, that I'll be able to do this, dear?

Well, before last night, well, what you've done to me,

I don't see what I'm going to do, I'm alone.

So look, little girl, who really believed what you said, my dear,

It wasn't, well, so long ago (that) you promised to never forget me,

Well, so, look at what you've done to me,

So, dear, you should use your head, yeah, you'll see the promises (made),

I don't deserve, well yeah, all of the misery that you've done to me.

As of today, well, I know, dear,

You have returned, yeah, well, so join me, yeah dear,

Well, apologies to me before long.

You know, little girl, well, I don't deserve, well, all of that, you dear,

Only the Good Lord will hold my hand, mine, yes, for you, yes dear,

Well, oh my, so look at me, i'm doing (this), yeah, all alone. 

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

Release Info:
BS-99227-1 Mon Vieux D'Autrefois (My Old Used To Be) 
| Bluebird 2185
BS-99228-1 Pauvre Garcon (Poor Boy) | Bluebird 2185

Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology 1928 - 1941 (The Historic Victor-Bluebird Sessions Vol. 2) (CMF, 1993)
Cajun Early Recordings (JSP, 2004)

Monday, May 16, 2022

"Amadie Two Step" - Amede Ardoin & Dennis McGee

Before there was zydeco music, early French-speaking musicians in Southwest Louisiana were creating French-Creole music. And, one of the earliest recording artists of this style was accordion player Amede Ardoin, whose life on the Creole music trail went from stardom to tragedy. Ardoin was a virtuoso on the accordion, and he wrote and recorded a series of songs from 1929 to 1934.  According to author Darrell Bourque:

He was kind of like a rock star of his own day and time.  The most repeated a line in his songs, other than wanting a girl to pay attention to him, ... this thing about not having a home, you know, being exiled.1

Oh, bonsoir, catin, ouais, je m'en va, jolie,

Moi, je m'en va, donc, moi tout seul, droite à la maison,

Moi, je voudrais si vous-autres peuvent faire,

Ouais, pour toi, qu'es aussi mal,

Tu t'en va à ta maison, toi, tu me quittes derrière.

Oh, bonsoir, catin, quoi tu veux (que) je peux faire?

Moi, je te vois, mais, t'en aller, ouais, ça me fait du mal,

Si tu vas, comment je peux faire quand je jongle à toi?

Toi, peut-être j’aurais le courage, ouais, de m’en aller.

Oh, bonsoir, catin, peur tout le temps fait ça,

C’est pour faire plaisir, catin, pourqoui à tes parents,

Quand ton neg’ radotte sur moi, je crois, toi, tu me fais ça,

Tu me fais du mal, c’est toi, catin, (qu'es) assez pour moi pleurer.

Daily Advertiser
Aug 13, 1931
It had been almost a year since Dennis Mcgee and Amede Ardoin had made their ground-breaking recordings for Columbia, which were co-pressed on Okeh. The Great Depression had taken a toll on the recording industry. November of 1930 was quite late into the Depression for recording labels to attempt marketing new Cajun music, but Brunswick decided to try one last time.  They gathered Dennis and Ardoin together and recorded a song that reflected the pain in which Ardoin was so familiar with... the loss of a lover.  While he attempts to blame her parents, he also passes blame on her as well.  Unlike Columbia and Okeh, Brunswick did not employ a special numberical series for its Cajun records.  Instead, the firm released all of these titles, which consisted of waltzes, one-steps, two-steps and blues, under the bill of McGee and Ardoin in its "Songs from Dixie" series.3  He continued to play with McGee and his black Creole neighbor Douglas Bellard into the early 1930s. 

Oh, goodnight my pretty doll, yeah, I'm leaving, my pretty,

I'm leaving, so, all alone, straight to the house,

I'd like it if you could do this,

Yeah, for you, who's also sad,

You have gone to your house, you've left me behind.

Oh, goodnight my pretty doll, what do you want (that) I can do?

I see you, well, you're going, yeah, it makes me feel sad,

If you're going, how will I handle this when I'm thinking about you?

You, maybe I'll have the courage, yeah, to go away.

Oh, goodnight my pretty doll, always scared to do that,

Trying to please, pretty doll, your parents,

When your father rambles on about me, I believe you've done that to me,

You've made me sad, it's you, pretty doll, (who did) enough to make me cry. 

The popularity of the song gave way to Happy Fats' 1935 "Les Fille De St. Martin" and Nathan Abshire's 1950 "Choupique Two Step" and his 1960 "Jolie Catin".  In the 1980s, Marc Savoy recorded a different melody giving it the same name. Because of the confusion it caused, he explains:

In the 1980s the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band recorded Arhoolie CD #316 entitled "Two-Step Amédé." Initially, the title song, which I had composed out of love and admiration of Amédé Ardoin's music, was supposed to be called "Tribute to Amédé Ardoin." Even though the submitted track list clearly described the title correctly, the producer went to press having changed it to "Two-Step Amédé" not realizing that there was already a completely different song entitled "Amédé Two-Step" by Amédé Ardoin recorded in the 1930s. My recording of "Two-Step Amédé" was never meant to be a version of Amédé's wonderful song. Instead it was my feeble attempt to compose a tune to honor his contribution to Cajun/Creole Music.2 

  1. http://www.fox8live.com/story/37771315/heart-of-louisiana-the-story-of-amede-ardoin
  2. https://folkways.si.edu/arhoolie 
  3. Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music edited by Diane Pecknold

Release Info:
NO-6717-A Amadie Two Step | Brunswick 576 

NO-6718-A La Valse A Austin Ardoin | Brunswick 576

NO-6717-A Amadie Two Step | Melotone M18050
NO-6718-A La Valse A Austin Ardoin | Melotone M18050

I'm Never Comin' Back: The Roots of Zydeco (Arhoolie, 1995)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)
Mama, I'll Be Long Gone : The Complete Recordings of Amede Ardoin, 1929-1934 (Tompkins Square, 2011)

Monday, May 2, 2022

"Se Mallereux" - Happy Fats

Records had been available regionally since the late 1920s and a few of them got played elsewhere from time to time, but it was in 1939 that Leroy "Happy" Fats LeBlanc and the Rayne-Bo Ramblers became the first band from south Louisiana to play on a radio show broadcast nationally over the CBS network. Old-timers will recall that Fats and his band were regular performers at the OST Club in Rayne and Tee Maurice Club near Vatican.1 

T'as quitté hier au soir,
Avec un gros en or,
T'as revenu à ce matin,
Tu sentais le vin blanc.

C'est malheureux, (c'est malheureux,) 
C'est malheureux tu m'fais comme ça,
C'est malheureux tu m'as quitté, 
Quoi faire tu veux venir.

Quoi faire donc, pitié, 
Tu fais ça z-avec moi,
T'es après faire du mal,
À ton pauvre nègre.

C'est malheureux, (c'est malheureux,)
C'est malheureux tu m'fais comme ça. 
C'est malheureux tu m'as quitté, 
Quoi faire tu veux venir.

Happy Fats
Fats was reared on a rice farm near Rayne, Louisiana and got his first guitar by trading a sack of rice for it. He was working in a rice mill for $1.50 a day when he started his band as a way to earn a little bit of money during the Depression. "We'd play dances for ten dollars for the whole band," he said in an interview some years ago. "That was two dollars apiece and two dollars for traveling expenses."1  

By 1938, after having many musicians in and out of his band, he regrouped with the Guidry's, Roy "Blackie" Romero and a talented 17-yr-old pianist from the St. Martinville area named Robert Thibodeaux.  Together, they formed a western swing outfit for a recording session at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans and recorded a French version of Deep Elem Blues entitled "Se Mallereux" (#2089).

You left last night,
With a big man in wealth,
You've returned this morning,
You smelled of white wine.

That's terrible, that's terrible,
That's terrible, you did like that,
That's terrible, you left me,
How you want to come back.

So, what's done, pitiful,
You did that with me,
You're going to hurt,
Your poor old man.

That's terrible, that's terrible,
That's terrible, you did like that,
That's terrible, you left me,
How you want to come back.

  1. Jim Bradshaw. "Happy Fats Heard Nationwide". The Abbeville Meridional, published in Abbeville, Louisiana on Sunday, January 29th, 2012
  2. Lyrics by Stephane F
Release Info:
BS-022035-1 Ma belle Mellina | Bluebird B-2046-A
BS-022036-1 Se Mallereux | Bluebird B-2046-B

BS-022036-1 Se Mallereux | Bluebird B-2089-A
BS-022023-1 Cherie a you toi te? [Hackberry Ramblers] | Bluebird B-2089-B

HAPPY FATS & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (BACM, 2009)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

"A Ute" - Leo Soileau

Cajun fiddler Leo Soileau made a name for himself after waxing four sides for Victor Records in 1928.  He became the second Cajun recording artist after the Falcons and was the first fiddler to record for a major label.  After his partner Mayuse Lafleur died in a senseless tragedy, he continued to record until the Great Depression took hold.

Eh, bébé, éyoù toi t'es?
Pourquoi-donc toi t'es fais,
Jolie fille, avec moi,
Jolie fille, pour ton vieux nègre?

Eh, bébé, pourquoi-donc,
T'as fait ça à ton vieux nègre,
Jolie 'tite fille, faudra que tu viens,
Pour faire t'as fait avant longtemps.

Eh, chère, comment ç(a) se fait,
Ma jolie, t'as jamais vu,
J'vu jaimais, jolie fille, 
Pourquoi-donc tu t'en reviens pas?

Oh, chère, éyoù toi t'es,
Jolie 'tite fille, ton vieux nègre,
Cher tit monde, pour trop tard,
Tu viens pas t'en revoir ton nègre.

Ah, mon nègre, moi j'm'en va,
Oui, là-bas, z'à grand Crowley,
Oh, mon nègre, pour te rejoindre,
Pourquoi-donc tu fais tout ça?

Crowley Post Signal
Dec 9, 1935
By 1935, RCA's new Bluebird recording division contacted Leo about recording again and this time he assembled a string band group.  By 1936, Leo had been switched over from Bluebird to Decca Records where he used the opportunity to re-record two of his original Victor pieces, one entitled "A Ute (Where Are You)" (#17017).   A clear mis-spelling of the phrase éyoù toi, the song was a string band version of the classic Mayuse Lafleur song "Mama Where You At?".

Leo was backed by fellow guitarists Bill Landry, Floyd Shreve and probably drummer Tony Gonzales, all billed as the Four Aces of Crowley. The melody remained in the popular Cajun repertoire among area musicians until after WWII, when the song became more commonly known as "Hey Mom". 

Hey, baby, where are you at?
So, what have you done,
Pretty girl, with me,
Pretty girl, with your old man?

Hey, baby, so what,
You'd done that to your old man,
Pretty little girl, you have to return,
To do what you've done before long.

Hey, dear, how that feels,
My pretty one, you'll never see,
I'll never see, pretty girl,
So why don't you return.

Oh, dear, where are you at?
Pretty little girl, you old man,
Dearest everything, it's too late,
You won't return to see your man.

Ah, my friend, I'm leaving to ,
Yea, over there, to big Crowley,
Oh, my friend, you'll come back,
So why have you done all that?

  1. Lyrics by Stephane F

Release Info:
NO-60795 A Ute (Where Are You) | Decca 17017 A
NO-60792 Je M'Ennui Ce Soir (I'm Lonesome Tonight) | Decca 17017 B