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
  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
  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)