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)