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)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got info? Pics? Feel free to submit.