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Mission: To foster enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of the history of Cajun music!
"As is always the case, the art of a vital people speaks eloquently for those who create and recreate it." --Ralph Rinzler
Established May 26, 2002. Latest update August 11, 2014.
Neal Pomea (Pommier)
Historic Music: Nathan Abshire, Ambrose Thibodeaux, Lawrence Walker, Balfa Brothers, Octa Clark & Hector Duhon, Austin Pitre & Milton Molitor , Aldus Roger & the Lafayette Playboys, Denus McGee & Sady Courville , Mamou Hour Cajun Band , Joe Falcon & Cleoma Breaux, Amedie Breaux, Angelas LeJeune, Moise Robin, Revon Reed's Mamou Social Club, Clément Brothers
Jack Leger and the Cajun All Stars, Lanor 45s, circa 1975. He sometimes played accordion for the KEUN Mamou Hour Cajun Band led by Sady Courville when Revon Reed was the host from Fred Tate's. Danced to his exciting band at Coz's Blue Goose hall in Eunice around that time, early 80s. Here he is playing like a boss! Thanks to Bryan Lafleur and Jack Bond! Playing frottoir and singing with Ambrose Thibodeaux on accordion, live 1977 from Fred's Lounge in Mamou, Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés.
Special! Poor Hobo
The 1920s and 30s were a period of unequalled recording of the musical heritage of our country! The phonograph was finding its way into many homes, and people wanted to hear local music. With nothing more than the scant, vague promise that a furniture store, for example, could sell a few hundred copies of a local musician's songs, recording companies like Victor, Vocalion, Brunswick, Columbia, Bluebird, and Paramount sent engineers and recording equipment to outposts like New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis, and Atlanta, or a bus ticket north to headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, Chicago, Richmond, Indiana, Grafton, Wisconsin, etc., and Cajun musicians were among the bunch to record alongside commercial artists like Jimmie Rodgers, jazz greats like Johnny Dodds, ragtime guitarists like Blind Blake, ladies of the blues like Bessie Smith, etc. And the Library of Congress had a mandate to go everywhere and record the story of the music people made when it looked to some like the world was going to end in the Great Depression, dust storms at home, and a world war brewing abroad! It was in that kind of setting that the recordings above were made, and they constitute a windfall. A fortunate, unique record of cultural history, with songs of joy and pride and common woes. A time of great music whose influence we cannot forget. Alright already, back to the roots!
Included: Wayne Perry's astonishing fiddle! Segura Brothers tearing it up on accordion and vocal, from a December 16, 1928 session in New Orleans! Haunting, uncommonly tender folk music from fiddler Delma Lachney, vocalist Blind Uncle Gaspard, and accordion player John Bertrand.
Douglas Bellard, a black fiddler, was the playing partner of the great Amédé Ardoin before Ardoin decided to go with fiddler Dennis McGee, a white man who could offer him more protection when playing before crowds in those racially segregated days. Rumors and myths abound...Here Douglas is accompanied by Kirby Riley, accordion. These songs by Bellard and Riley are extremely rare! They are the basis of songs done by people like Austin Pitre, Bois Sec and Canray, Iry Lejeune, and others.
See Recording Activity in New Orleans in the 'Twenties for an interesting rundown of the diversity captured at just one of the outposts recording music at that time.
Lomax made a field trip to southwest Louisiana in 1934, where he recorded Wayne Perry. He also recorded Edier Segura's playful tune, Joe Feraille, sung with a fiddle accompaniment, c'est tout! It seems petit Joe Feraille is a hustler who trades his wife for a barrel of pecans, only to have her return to him soon after the bargain for a repeat con on another poor soul. He trades her again for corn, peanuts next time, and so on. C'est ca il a dit dans la chanson!
Oscar "Slim" Doucet, the accordion player, does two songs here with a man named Chester Hawkins on guitar: Waxia (Wauksha) Special (reprised in splendid fashion by Les Freres Michot on their new CD La Roue qui Pend!); and Chere Yeux Noirs, not to be confused with 'Tit Yeux Noirs by Lawrence Walker. Guidry Brothers do La Valse du Mariage (also reprised by Les Freres Michot!).
Leroy "Happy Fats" LeBlanc of the Rayne community led a little string band called the Rayne Bo Ramblers through Les Filles de St. Martin, an early version of the popular Choupique Two Step associated with Nathan Abshire.
Columbus "Boy" Fruge from Arnaudville was a contemporary and friend of Moise Robin. He recorded four songs: the famous Saute Crapaud (Jump Toad), not included here due to sound quality, and the three included here. The Point Claire Blues turns out to be an early version of a song I had previously associated with Nathan Abshire, The Lemonade Song.
One step, not two, by the great, great Amédé Ardoin, a black accordion player regarded as one of the fathers of the Creole music style, the roots of Zydeco! What intensity!
Cleoma Falcon with her brother Clifford Breaux are heard on a couple of "American" tunes, J'Suis Partis sur le Grand Chemin Tres Disatisfé (Going Down the Road Feeling Bad), and Continuez Sonner (Keep Knocking but You Can't Come In)! It just goes to show how Cajun music in the 20s and 30s was a real melting pot of styles and influences. For such an isolated group as the Cajuns, their musicians sure were tuned in to the popular music of the day. Clifford sings jazz-like scat on Continuez Sonner! But you could still hear really old sounds dating far back even while these modern influences were at work. And when Cajun musicians took from the popular culture of the day, you could be sure they'd put their own stamp on it and give it a unique twist, making it their own.
By the mid- to late 1930s a new wave made its way into Cajun music with a string band sound influenced by country and Western Swing music coming in from the influx of Texans, etc. coming to Louisiana for its first big oil boom! Early adopters represented here include Dudley and James Fawvor, J.B. Fuselier (Miller's Merrymakers), and Leo Soileau.
The lovely Creole Waltz done by the Fawvors has the lyrics associated later with Tout Les Deux Pour la Meme (Both for the Same) by Lawrence Walker. You can hear a great version of this tune on the Varise Conner cd mentioned up above. You are Little and You are Cute is of course the well-loved T'es Petite et T'es Mignonne.
J.B. Fuselier contributed some of the standards of the Cajun music repertoire. He was the first to record Chere Tout Toute under that title, though Angelas LeJeune also uses the tune in one of his recordings. He was the first to record the Lake Arthur Stomp under that title. Authorship of the Lake Arthur Stomp is ascribed to the remarkable fiddler Varise Conner, whose music is featured in a tribute earlier on this Web site. Parts of the tune also appear in the recordings of Dennis McGee. Fusilier moved to Lake Arthur so that he could play with Varise Conner, and they played dances during some of the leanest days of the Depression. J.B. played both fiddle and accordion. On a side note, it was J.B. Fuselier accompanying Iry LeJeune home from a dance when the two had a flat tire and pulled off the road to fix it. A passing car struck and killed Iry and put J.B. in the hospital! Varise Conner remembers his friendship with Fuselier in a touching interview on the Louisiana Folk Masters cd. Also, Miller' s Merrymakers were led by a guitarist named Beethoven Miller and another guitarist named Preston Manuel. Manuel is featured on this Web site with the KEUN Mamou Hour Cajun Band and also appears with Ambrose Thibodeaux. Small world!
The great fiddler Leo Soileau along with Maius (Mayeus?) Lafleur, later Moise Robin, on accordion is thought to be the second Cajun musician to record, just weeks following Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux. Those recordings are legendary! Here we feature some of his later recordings with his string bands the Rhythm Boys and the Four Aces. Frankie and Johnny, popularized by Jimmie Rodgers, gets an instrumental treatment with a lot of attitude! Hear the shouts of his band members telling him to "make it hot, Leo!" Louisiana Blues and La Bonne Valse epitomize Soileau's soulful, mournful sound. Then Bing Crosby's Little Dutch Mill and the sentimental Beautiful Mary show how pop tunes wove their way into the music. Soileau retired from music in the 1940s with the demise of the string band sound.
The Hackberry Ramblers were formed in the string band environment of the 1930s by Luderin Darbonne on fiddle and Edwin Duhon on guitar and various instruments, and an amazing vocalist named Lennis Sonnier. They were the first to record the song Jolie Blonde under that title, and they had an a remarkable run of popularity. They were the first Cajun band to play the bandstand standing up, first to use amplification in their dances. They ran their Model T Ford battery during the dance with cable into the hall to electrify the fais do-do!
Pic of Wayne Perry, Indian Bayou, LA, recorded by John Lomax for Library of Congress. Look how he holds his bow! Is he into it? (Source: LOC American Memory)
Recommended: We are very fortunate today to have so much music from the 1920s and 1930s available on CD, much more than was available even when this Web site began in 2002.
Ever since the 1970s I was aware of recorded Cajun and Creole music from the 1920s and 30s through an outstanding series of lps (long-playing records) on the market by the Arhoolie Records label. I will always be grateful to producer Chris Strachwitz for making that music available! It's as if it's in my DNA now! Some of these remarkable lps are still available from the Arhoolie Web site, with these titles: Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 1, First Recordings (OT108); Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 2, The Early 30s (OT109); Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 3, The String Bands of the 1930s (OT110); Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 4, The 30s to the 50s (OT111); Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 5, 1928-1938 (OT114); Amade Ardoin, His Original Recordings 1928-1934 Volume 6 (OT124); Leo Soileau, Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 7 (OT125).
From 2004-2008, the JSP label put out three 4-CD sets that cover a good portion of the 1920s and 30s recordings. Look for Cajun Early Recordings (JSP7726), Cajun Country 2 (JSP7749), and Cajun Music Rare and Authentic (JSP77115). Also look for recordings by Dennis McGee and Leo Soileau, who have individual compilations available on the Yazoo label. Unforgettable!
Recently, in 2011, Tompkins Square released an essential compilation of Amédé Ardoin recordings with much improved sound mastering by Chris King! It's just great to have all 34 of these great recordings available in a single 2-CD set! Look for Mama, I'll Be Long Gone: The Complete Recordings of Amédé Ardoin 1929-1934! This music by the great black Creole singer and accordionist Amédé Ardoin, first with fiddler Dennis McGee and then solo, includes some of the most important and influential, not to mention beautiful, tunes and lyrics in all of Cajun and Creole history. Many of his songs became standards or well known songs in the Cajun and Creole canon, sometimes with different names, as shown here. Tompkins Square scored again in 2013 with Let Me Play This for You! Rare Cajun Recordings, featuring the incredible Angelas LeJeune, Bixy Guidry and Percy Babineaux, and some rare Blind Uncle Gaspard recordings! Just about everything LeJeune recorded became a beloved Cajun standard.
The great Harry Choates is surely in everyone's Cajun Music Hall of Fame. He made an important contribution to local pride with his wildly popular version of the crossover hit, Jolie Blon, to the point that some people still call it the Cajun national anthem! A short but brilliant life, some would say wasted, he was a casualty in his twenties of a raucous, honky tonk life style, but boy was he fun when he was on! His signature cry Eh Ha Ha! epitomized the music of the 1940s and early 50s at its most joyous. Hear Oh Mignonne, a swing reworking of Leo Soileau and Mayeuse Lafleur's Ton Papa M'a Jete Dehors from the 20s! You might think the fiddling on C'est Pas La Peine (What's the Use?) sounds suspiciously like Nashville, but no, it's the other way around! He and fiddlers like Chuck Guillory and Rufus Thibodeaux influenced the Nashville sound immensely. Brilliant!
Valse de Hadacol is one of our theme songs around here. The lyrics are in the form of a testimonial from a satisfied customer thanking Nonc Dudley, i.e. Dudley J. LeBlanc, the maker of this "miracle" tonic.
Mon petit garçon a plus des crises
Si t’as des douleurs mais tout partout
"Pendant longtemps j’ai miséré
transcription by Christian Landry, Daniel Blanchard, and Neal Pomea
Lee Sonnier of Crowley was the first Cajun to record with the accordion following World War II. He was recorded by J.D. Miller in 1946. The "post-War" accordion sound really took off with the Houston-based Opera label release of Iry LeJeune with the Oklahoma Tornadoes, Love Bridge Waltz. If anybody has information on the name of this tune please contact me by e-mail. From there on a slew of accordion players recorded, including Austin Pitre, Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker, Lionel Cormier, etc., and a boom was on for dancehall music. The rest, they say, is history!
Recommended: Arhoolie cd 427, Cajun Honky Tonk, includes great 78s recorded in the late 40s/early 50s for the Khoury label of Lake Charles and other regional record labels. Included: Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker, Harry Choates, Floyd LeBlanc, the Musical Four Plus One, Elise Deshotels and his Louisiana Rhythmaires (featuring vocals by Dewey Balfa and accordion by Maurice Barzas!), Shuk Richard with vocals by Marie Falcon, etc. Maurice Barzas and the Mamou Playboys was one of the earliest bands featuring the accordion after World War II. Their long lasting gig at Snooks' Lounge in Ville Platte (something like every Saturday night for 35 years!) featured Two Step de Ville Platte as theme song. You can get two CDs of the wonderful music of Maurice Barzas and the Mamou Playboys through Tina Pilione of the Savoy Music Center in Eunice, Louisiana. The live tape recordings that form the basis of these CDs were made in the 1970s and 1980s, but the music and atmosphere captured in the recordings certainly well represent the post-World War II milieu. For ordering information see http://www.tinapilione.com/. Also, Bear Family Records has a landmark collection of the music of Harry Choates entitled Devil in the Bayou: The Gold Star Recordings. Reissue producers Andrew Brown and Dave Sax have given us our fullest picture yet of the life and times of this unforgettable musician. We owe them our sincere thanks!!
My daddy told me that a long time ago. To him, there never was a time when things progressed so much as in the 1950s, the 60s. Pense, donc! Merci Bon Dieu! Electricity in the house and some kitchen appliances you never had before! The parish paved the road. To go to school you could take the school bus, the transfer, not a horse and wagon anymore. You could haul the rice to the mill in Kaplan, Rayne, or Crowley and get a good price. No easy street or gravy train, just better than Depression days and lonesome years in the War. Lots of "Cadiens" in southwest Louisiana felt that way! I did. The music told a story. It was proud, it was new, it laughed at us how we were in the old days, all at the same time. Natural, a renaissance to be proud again of being French in America!
Description: Rare Private Recordings! Nathan Abshire plays accordion and sings the old Joe Falcon song, A Cowboy Rider, as well as Tramp Dessus la Rue. Guitarist Preston Manuel sings Bayou Chêne. Sady Courville plays fiddle, introduces Tramp Dessus la Rue, and pitches the Mothers Day specials of the Mamou merchants. What a voice! The man in charge is Revon Reed, from the floor of Fred Tate's Lounge for the KEUN Mamou Cajun Hour, a live broadcast which aired from 9-11 AM on Saturdays, station 1490. Sounds to me the way I used to hear them in the mid to late 1970s! This goes out with many thanks to the Reed family.
Be sure to hunt for Cajun music on YouTube! You might find this rare video of Nathan playing with Sady and Pres on his signature song, Ma Négresse (Pine Grove Blues). Don't miss 5:25 on! "The natives are getting restless!"
New! Also, check out the inaugural edition of a new magazine, Louisiana Music, with lots of information and never before seen photos of Nathan Abshire and the Pinegrove Boys!
Recommended: Arhoolie cd 373, French Blues, documents Nathan's early 1950s recordings for the Khoury label from Lake Charles. For late 50s, early 60s, Nathan recorded with J.D. Miller from Crowley and his music was re-released on Flyright CD 19, Nathan Abshire and the Pinegrove Boys. Swallow Records from Ville Platte put out recordings from the 1960s and 70s on CD 6061, The Best of Nathan Abshire. La Louisianne Records from Lafayette leased its 2 lps of Nathan's recordings from the 1970s to Ace Records of Great Britain, available as Nathan Abshire: The Great Cajun Accordionist . Good luck finding those! Great compilations featuring Nathan include Arhoolie CD 416, Cajun Fais Do-Do, and Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés on Cinq Planetes from France. Thanks again, Ace Records, for a loving 2013 release of Nathan's best Swallow recordings, Nathan Abshire with His Pine Grove Boys and the Balfa Brothers: Master of the Cajun Accordion: The Classic Swallow Singles, CDCHD 1348. Good notes on the songs and interesting photos!
Description: The Authentic Sounds of Cajun French Music and Folk Songs of Acadiana, out of print and hard to find lp Bee-136, produced by Elton "Bee" Cormier
accordion: Ambrose Thibodeaux; fiddle: Leon Doucet, Ken David; guitar: Reggie Matte (vocal on Eunice Waltz), Gervais Quibodeaux (vocal on Jolie Fille), Robert Sonnier, Mark Latiolais; triangle: Elmer Thibodeaux, Joe Bradford
Respectfully known as "Uncle" Ambrose, this musician was a fixture on KLFY TV Channel 10 from Lafayette, Louisiana in the 1960s and 70s on the early morning show Passe Partout, right after the French rosary to start off the day. He certainly played the older songs in a tempo with dancers in mind. Simple and beautiful! In his live performances he would signal the approaching end of a tune with characteristic good humor, hitting the wrong chord and putting an abrupt stop to things. We owe a lot to Ambrose Thibodeaux for keeping some old, forgotten songs alive and for composing his own in the older style. He was a mainstay on Revon Reed and Sady Courville's Mamou Cajun Hour radio broadcasts Saturday mornings on KEUN 1490 AM direct from Fred's Lounge in Mamou, playing triangle and accordion and also participating as a fine dancer. Known for his easy, solid sense of time on his two steps, he had a fine sense of drama as well, building tension! No step skipped! What's the rush? Douçement!
These selections are dedicated to Pete Bergeron. Pic I took at the 1977 Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette, Louisiana, with Bessyl Duhon on fiddle, Bee Cormier on guitar, and Leola Thibodeaux on triangle.
Recommended: La Louisianne Records in Lafayette, Louisiana may still have a few copies of the four lps that Uncle Ambrose recorded for their label. They are all landmark Cajun albums, so get them all if you can! Don't be dismayed by their confounding, similar titles: 1. Authentic French Acadian Music, 2. More Authentic Acadian French Music, 3. That French Acadian Sound, and 4. Authentic Cajun French Music and Folk Songs. Mais monde!
accordion and vocals: Lawrence Walker; fiddle: Lionel Leleux; with steel guitar, rhythm guitar, and drums
Lawrence Walker has been described by Barry Ancelet as too late to count as one of the original Cajun musicians recording in the 1920s and 30s, although he did indeed record that long ago, and yet too early to participate in the renaissance of Cajun music that occurred in the 1960s and beyond. He was certainly one of the most respected and influential Cajun music recording artists and dancehall performers immediately following World War II and into the 1960s. He set a high standard for musicianship and emotional vocals along with showmanship with his accordion. Some of the songs he recorded remain among the most beloved Cajun songs of all time, including Chère Alice, Reno Waltz, Mamou Two Step, Unlucky Waltz, Bosco Stomp, Both for the Same, and so on!
Recommended: Swallow cd Essential Collection of Lawrence Walker, SW 6221, was released in 2010. Includes his 1961 material for the La Louisianne label, some of his very best recordings like Unlucky Waltz, Chère Alice, Reno Waltz, and Allons Rock and Roll. Arhoolie cd 427, Cajun Honky Tonk, includes some of Walker's early sides recorded in the late 40s/early 50s for the Khoury label of Lake Charles.
Dewey Balfa fiddle demo: Pretty Little Christine, Rosina, Perrodin Two Step, Liberty/Saute Crapaud
Octa Clark was one of the finest accordion players in Cajun music history. None finer, ever! He was a contemporary of Joe Falcon and Amédé Breaux and started off in the 1920s, but for personal reasons he turned down many offers to record over the years, so his name as a Cajun music pioneer is not as familiar as it should be. Still he was well known and influential locally in Louisiana. Together with fiddler Hector Duhon, his longtime musical partner and neighbor from Judice, Louisiana, he was re-enlisted to present the old-time music during the "Cajun Renaissance" period of the 1970s at many festivals in Louisiana and elsewhere, inspiring generations of young musicians!
Hector Duhon played his fiddle in unison with the accordion rather than taking leads, which is something of a forgotten fiddle style. His son Bessyl accompanied them on guitar when they were the first Cajun musicians to perform at the prestigious University of Chicago Folk Festival in 1972.
The Jamboree Waltz was an original composition by Clark as a theme song for a live radio program featuring him with Hector Duhon's Dixie Ramblers from Madame Webb's Neighborhood Club in Lafayette, Louisiana in the late 1950s. In 1993 Clark used the same arrangement of this song and updated the lyrics to coincide with the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and released the selection as the Crawfish Waltz on CD.
Recommended: Old Time Cajun Music, Arhoolie CD 9018, the album length release by Clark and Duhon with Mike Doucet on rhythm guitar. Then there is the rare 1993 CD You Cant' Go Wrong if You Play it Right, c/o Glen Clark, Fieldspan, 606 Burlington Circle, Broussard, Louisiana, 70518, email@example.com. A majority of the songs posted here are original compositions and arrangements of Octa Clark and all publishing and copyrights are held by Fieldspan Music BMI, and are NOT in the public domain. Please contact Fieldspan for further uses, recording licenses and information on attributing them to Mr. Octa Clark. Special thanks to Fieldspan Music for permission to post them here!
Austin Pitre & Milton Molitor
Maxie Waltz sounds like a variant of Grand Bois! Ninety Nine Year Waltz is actually Molitor's version of Valse de Bambocheur, with Austin on fiddle, and probably my very favorite for the way Molitor's vocal slowly, slyly draws it out. Tout l'monde autour de moi après m'point aux doigts! Every night he goes to bed and falls out turning over, can't sleep. He's a vagabond, a good for nothing, a Louisiana French prodigal son, thinking of mom and pop and his own foolishness for ever having left home. Great stuff!
The lyrics here to Danse de Mardi Gras are interesting but should not be considered definitive. In fact, it is one of the strengths of this song that so many versions occur! I like this version a lot for its call to lend a hand to help the poor.
Va donc, donnez, mais, la main -z- avec les pauvres, les Mardi Gras.
Va donc, mettez la main –z- avec les pauvres, les Mardi Gras.
Va donc, mettez la main avec les pauvres, les Mardi Gras.
Les Mardi Gras prendraient de ta main, mais, une 'tite poule jinga.
& the Lafayette Playboys
Recommended: CD La Louisianne 1007 (great selections!)
& Sady Courville
"Languages have dictionaries, Cajun music had Dennis McGee" -- Marc Savoy
See pics of Revon and Roy by Daniel Rouilller in 1979 on the wonderful accordion blog by Philippe Krümm!
& Cleoma Breaux
Cajun music historian Ron Brown of Athens, Tennessee points out that the recordings Cleoma and Joe made for Decca records in New York, New Orleans, and San Antonio in 1934, 1936, and 1937 (and their recordings for Bluebird) are among the most cherished! They recorded under Cleoma's name, under Joe's name, and as the Falcon Trio, with fiddlers Ulysse Falcon on some sessions or Mose Morgan on others. It's possible that Cleoma's brothers Clifford or Ophy of the Breaux Brothers appeared on some of them, as well.
I'm struck by how Cleoma seemed to like to sing "American" songs from the old time country and blues repertoires, sometimes in English. There are two versions of the same song here, one in English and one in French, with Raise Your Window High and Ouvrez Grand ma Fenetre. Lulu's Back in Town is her French version of a popular song of the day. Careless Love, It's a Sin to Tell a Lie, I Don't Want Your Greenback Dollar, and Just Because get "Cajunized" here. See the 1920s-30s section for her version of Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, and hear her accompany her brothers on Continuez de Sonner (Keep a Knockin but You Can't Come In)! Another thing that strikes me is how Joe's melodies appear again and again in the standard Cajun music repertoire under different names! Ma Valse Preferé, for example, sounds like Grand Mamou; La Valse Crowley like the Lafayette Playboys Waltz; Frisco like Vermilion Two Step; Pin Solitaire like the B.O. Sparkle; Mon Favori Waltz like Valse de Grand Bois; Au Revoir Cherie like Evangeline Special; Le Nuit Samedi like the Valse de Samedi au Soir; Ne Buvez Plus Jamais like J'etais au Bal; Valse de Baldwin like Chere Alice; etc. Joe's name doesn't always pop up in lists of all time top Cajun accordionists, but I will say this. He's not flashy but he sure keeps good time! I really like the tension he builds in a song's bridge.
Please excuse the sound quality of some of these rare 78s.
Angelas LeJeune New!
Ann Savoy's book, Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, gives us Denus McGee's account of how Angelas LeJeune came to record. LeJeune, who was an older cousin of Iry LeJeune from the Point Noire area near Church Point and known to the community as Nonc Jack, won an accordion contest in Opelousas in 1929. First prize was a trip to New Orleans to record with legendary fiddlers Denus McGee and Ernest Frugé. September 20, 1929. 6 songs, 3 records in all for the Brunswick label, that are surely some of the most powerful music in Cajun history. One listen to the Vieille Valse de la Louisiane, especially the bridge or "turn," will show what a powerful player he was. Brilliant! And his Perrodin Two Step? Unsurpassed!
Angelas LeJeune was one of the most influential of the early Cajun accordion players. His repertoire passed down to his younger cousin Iry LeJeune, who made big hits with his reworkings of tunes by Angelas and Amédé Ardoin in the late 1940s, early 1950s. His Valse de la Veuve (aka La Fille de la Veuve) is the same tune as Jolie Blonde but with a different story. It looks like in the 20s and 30s, the "standards" were still "under construction," with lots of songs having multiple titles and alternate lyrics. We get some of our standards from his recordings, including songs better known today under the titles Catch My Hat, Chère Tout Toute, Kaplan Waltz, Bayou Pon Pon, Perrodin Two Step, Cherokee Waltz, Chère Alice, and Crowley Two Step. That's an all-star song list, Jack!
Amazingly, even after the beginning of the Great Depression, Angelas LeJeune returned to New Orleans in November 1930 to record 10 more songs for Brunswick with Ernest Frugé on fiddle!
Recommended:Tompkins Square has released 13 of his titles, along with the entire recorded output of Bixy Guidry and Percy Babineaux, on a 2013 CD entitled Let Me Play This for You. Nice job!
Please excuse the sound quality of some of these rare 78s. They are just too important to not share here!
Back to the early days! Moise Robin was 17 years old in 1929 when he accompanied the fiddler Leo Soileau to Richmond, Indiana to record for Paramount Records. One of their masterpieces was a song called Easy Rider. Another, Penitentiary Waltz. A standard, J'Veux m'Marier (mais les poules pends pas). Dole tracked him down to his home in Arnaudville, Louisiana, and captured these songs with commentary. He tells that the songs are two steps, waltzes, and slow drags. Slow drag -- that's a dance that sounds like the blues. The songs tell some interesting stories! Lovely songs! I especially like Sois Honnête avec Moi, La Valse à Carmelite. Bayou Benoit! They are sequential, so listen to them in the left column, then the right. More to come...I understand that there are more field recordings of Robin as an older man. I would love to hear them!
Lyrical transcriptions by Christian Landry of Paris, France, and the entire gang at Dowell Lafleur's L'Anse Grise Community Online Bulletin Board: Mr. Dowell, Marc, Daniel, Christian, Bryan, Sylvie, Rocky, Roy, Skip, Pat, me, and others.
LES JOLIES FILLES DE COURTABLEAU
Impressive cast of characters. Fiddlers Aubrey Deville, Wallace "Cheese" Read, Chuck Guillory. Guitarist Preston Manuel.
LA VALSE D'LA MANCHE performed by Wallace Cheese Read
moi j'étais petit
j'm'en vas, cher
transcription generously provided by Gerard Dole!
Recommended: Folksongs of the Louisiana Acadians, Arhoolie CD 359 and Cajun Fais Do Do, Arhoolie CD 416.
It is a pleasure to be able to share with you this music! You will hear three of their records from the 1950s: Valse de 'Tit Maurice, Diggy Liggy Lo, and French Blues. Hard to find material! Then you will hear some later recordings done in a more relaxed, non-studio atmosphere.
From Evangeline, Louisiana, this family has deep roots on the southwest prairies. Ancestors made their way to Louisiana from Marseille, France in the early 1800s, settling in the Grand Coteau area of the old Attakapas country before moving on to present day environs near Jennings. On fiddle and accordion, their father Laurent played the Louisiana French folk music that became the basis of what we know these days as Cajun music, passing on to his sons his considerable knowledge and talents.
The Clément Brothers band have been making wonderful Cajun music since the late 1940s! They were on the scene playing the same clubs in the same time period that so many of our "better known" heroes from the 50s dancehall circuit were active, such as Lawrence Walker, Austin Pitre, Iry LeJeune, Aldus Roger, etc. Their great friend and hero, Nathan Abshire, helped spark a revival of accordion music in the post-war years with a regular engagement at The Pinegrove Club, a dancehall situated just a short way down the road from the Clément home.
In a recent interview Terry told me he was writing a lot of songs in those days. He sang me a folk tune he learned from his father to which he made up some words about Holly Beach, the Cajuns' popular getaway along the Gulf Coast in Cameron parish. That song became a hit for Lawrence Walker called Les Bon Temps Rouler. You may also like to know that Terry wrote and made the first recording of a little song that became a national hit called Diggy Liggy Lo! Allons ecouter!
Special thanks to Ray Abshire for sharing his great music! These soundboard recordings are from his memorable performance at the 2003 Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette, Louisiana and from a September 2005 performance at the Liberty Theater.
French Two Step and Valse à Rodney were featured here for a long time. Now we turn to two more: Rabbit Stole the Pumpkin (that was the name on the old recording by John Bertrand, but you will recognize this as J'etais au Bal), and Fe Fe Ponchaux (original on this Web site above by Joe Falcon). Announcer Barry Ancelet gives a moving introduction, recalling Ray's times in the 1960s and 70s with the Balfa Brothers and the earliest days of the Cajun music renaissance when the Festivals Acadiens was only a one night Tribute to Cajun Music!
Creole Stomp, Lacassine Special, and the Cajuns' Waltz feature the modern dancehall lineup with steel guitar and drums. Great stuff!
Cory McCauley & His Evangeline Aces
Madame Entelle was what Shuk Richard called Petite ou la Grosse, aka Donnez Moi La, Madame Edouard. Outstanding all around! "Quoi tu croit? C'est tout la meme prix." Yo Yo is an old one by Pee Wee Broussard! Pointe aux Tigres and Evangeline Aces Special are original.
Lulu's back in town! Hold that tiger...
Recommended: For my taste, this CD is one of the best Cajun releases of recent
years! Cory thought it was cool to put these songs here in the company
of this "Hall of Fame" collection, and he invites you to contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org for CD purchase. Bien merci à Cory et son gang! Bonne chance à tout eusse.
Tribute to Varise Conner with David Greely & the Conner Family at 2004 Festivals Acadiens
Wow! Of all the special performances and tributes over the years featured at Festivals Acadiens, this must rank among the sweetest! BEAUTIFUL loving tribute by David Greely, the Conner Family, and Barry Ancelet celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first Tribute to Cajun Music held in Louisiana, and the music of fiddler Varise Conner. Announcer Barry Ancelet remarks how Greely, from the Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys band, is there facing down four guitarists from the Conner family accompanying him. Magnificent job by all! You will want the Varise Conner cd after hearing this!
fiddle: David Greely; guitars: Milton Conner, Edgar Benoit, Mitchell Conner, George Conner
Edmond Guidry, drums; Jeb Huval, guitar; Blake Miller and Matt Cormier, fiddles. Host: Sir Barry Ancelet
Orsy Vanicor, steel guitar; Ed Poullard, fiddle; Cliff Newman, drums; Ganey Arsement, guitar; Jude Moreau, bass.
Miller & Bayou Roots
Recommended: Contact information at www.bayouroots.com.
A very versatile Lake Charles musician, Ganey offers a fine accordion instrumental here dedicated to one of his mentors, August Broussard! Sounds like Love Bridge Waltz played in two step time. August Broussard was quite adept at converting waltzes to two steps and vice versa. On this tune, through the magic of technology, Ganey replicates something he and August used to do, i.e. it starts off with a C accordion, moves to a D accordion, then back and forth! Nice tempo on this one!
Buck and Bry
Pascal and His Egrets
Swallow and La Louisianne Samples!
New! Iry Lejeune: Wailin' the Blues Cajun Style!