Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Le Garcon Negligent" - Guidry Brothers

The Guidry Brothers had a short stint recording for Vocalion in 1929.  The group, most likely from south Louisiana, consisted of either 3 or possibly 4 members however, it's unknown.  Only 6 songs were listed in the session sheet. 

Allons aller voir la ‘tite fille,

Il y a bien longtemps, j’ai pas eu des nouvelles,

Les jours passés, j’ai envoyé un mail,

Elle m’a jamais renvoyé des nouvelles.

       

Hé, quoi tu fais, toi, chère petite fille,

T’es après me laisser pour partir avec un autre,
T’aurais pas du me faire des promesses,
Mais quelles nouvelles j’vas apporter à mon père?


T’avais pas su le malheur que j’ai eu, 
Quand j’arrivais, la belle était partie,
Elle était partie se marrier avec un autre,
Mais, quel espoir que moi j’peux avoir?

J’ai toujours dit, "Toi t'es un garçon,
Qui negligeais beaucoup trop ses visites,
Tu sais toi-même quand y a une belle paix dans l'âme,
Y a toujours quequ' malin pour te la prendre."
"Le Garcon Neglignet" (#15849).   It's the first recording of the similar melody later used in "Big Texas" and "Jambalaya".  Lyrically, the theme is a common one; similar to Jolie Blonde where the love interest leaves with another because of a "negligent boy".  While the word "malin" signifies "intelligent", the context here is more along the lines of "mischevious" or "canaille", similar to "smart-ass". 

Recorded at half-time tempo, it could have easily been the source for the Breaux Brother's "La Valse De Bayou Plaquemine", Cleoma Breaux's "Pin Solitaire", J.B. Fusilier's "Lake Arthur Waltz", Happy Fats' "Gran Prairie", Jolly Boys' "Abbeville", and "Allons Kooche Kooche" by the Louisiana Rounders. 
Come see me, little girl,
It's been a long time, I have not heard any news,
The past few days, I sent a letter,
She never returned any news.

Hey, what you've done, dear little girl,
You've left me to go with another,
You should not have made promises,
Well, what news will I bring to my father?

You didn't have the problems I had,
When I arrived, my beautiful one was gone,
She was gone to get married with another,
Well, what hope can I have?

I have always said "You, you're a boy,
Who neglected far too many visits,
You know yourself when there is a beautiful peace in your soul,
There's always someone mischievous to take it away."




  1. Lyrics by Stephane F
Find:
CAJUN-Rare & Authentic: 1929 - 1934 (JSP, 2008)

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Khoury’s Label: A Cajun Concern (1949-1956)



NOTE: This story was a collaboration between Bopping.Org and ECM.  The article can also be found on the cooperative blog site:  http://www.bopping.org/the-khourys-label-cajun-concern/



The Beginning
The story of Khoury’s Recordings starts in 1949 with a man named John Harvey "Virgel" Bozman. He was a rustic singer/guitarist and part-time comedian who sometimes billed himself, with tongue-in-cheek, as the "The Arkansas Sinatra" He and his brother, Harmon Bozman, were auto mechanics and had apparently been a staple on the San Antonio country and western music scene for some time. By the end of 1945, he was in Houston recording for Bill Quinn.  While stationed at a San Antonio military base near the end of WWII, Cajun fiddler Floyd Leblanc befriended Bozman. Together, they had joined Bennie Hess’ Oklahoma Tornados country hillbilly band as a guitar player but Virgil also dabbled in his own material as well.  In mid 1948, Floyd had helped Iry Lejeune record a two tunes with the band on Hess’ label “Opera” and they had him touring with the group for quite some time in 1948. Cajun music was well on it’s way back and while selling cow horns in Lake Charles, Virgil ended up moving from Texas to Louisiana in order to record it.
The Oklahoma Tornados
Floyd Leblanc, Iry Lejeune, Ben Oldeg,
Bennie Hess and Virgil Bozman

The O.T. Years

Then came George Khoury, a Turkish-American businessman from Lake Charles and record store owner.  In 1947, as an owner of a record shop, he noticed a lack of Cajun music being recorded in south Louisiana and decided to open a business to compete with Ed Shuler’s Goldband Records and J. D. "Jay" Miller’s Fais-Do-Do and Feature labels. His base of operations was just around the corner from Ed’s on Railroad Ave in Lake Charles.


Khoury never had his own studio, however; he would rent out other studios and press the records in other places.  He had his record shop in Lake Charles and many agree he helped Virgil finance his new record label "O.T. Recordings", named after Hess’ band.  Together, Virgil would try to find new talent for producing records and Khoury would sell the records in his shop.   Even his “O.T.” logo resembled a cattle brand.  According to author John Broven:


Khoury was [Virgel’s] sponsor, so to speak, because he didn’t have that much money. He was a good salesman, he had a log of gab because being a cowhorn salesman he had to have a log of gab.2
George Khoury

Virgil kicked off his label with his own recordings, which were a hillbilly tune "Tell Me If You Love Me" and a Cajun tune "The Cameron Waltz" (#101), but he knew he needed other groups. It would be Eddie that would help Bozman get his first major outside recording artist.  Eddie Shuler, a record producer in Lake Charles, had been approached by Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire to record on his label after seeing the success Iry Lejeune’s recordings.   Nathan had been playing at the Avalon Club when the owner Quincy Davis thought having Nathan record would be good for business.   Eddie Shuler, who worked for the KPLC radio station, was too busy with the promotion of Iry LeJeune and put Nathan’s band in touch with businessman Virgil Bozman.   Also, Vigil had been familiar with Nathan’s music since Floyd had played in Nathan’s band years before. Virgil had noticed how Eddie Shuler produced his records for Goldband.  According to Eddie Shuler:


He kept the pot boiling by selling cowhorns (the famous Longhorns) and it is how he landed in Lake Charles one day. He discovered fast how I managed to get artists recorded by a third person and he decided to follow my steps. He arrived at the station studio, gave a bottle of booze to the sound engineer, asked him to cut an acetate, left with it and got it pressed somewhere else.2

He sold cow horns.  In fact, I still have one of his cow horns over the entrance to my door there that he gave me back at that time. I let him sing on my radio show. Anyway, he went then and teamed up with George Khoury and then he went out and found Nathan Abshire.1
Pine Grove Blues Success and Aftermath


Earl Demary, Wilson Granger, 
Eldrige Guidry, unknown on drums, 
Nathan Abshire, and Ernest Thibodeaux

In May of 1949, Virgil gathered Nathan Abshire with Earl Demary ‘s backup band in the KPLC studio, located inside the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, to cut 8 tracks; the first of which was the legendary "Pine Grove Blues" for the O.T. label (#102).   The melody was his version of Amédée Breaux’s "Blues du ‘Tit Chien" recorded for Vocalion Records in 1934.   Nathan’s 1935 recording "One Step de Lacassine" clearly anticipates the melody. There are some similarities with Bob Wills‘ "Milk Cow Blues" recorded in 1946 and even a loose similarity with "In The Pines", which some have credited as Nathan’s source. His Pine Grove Boys band included Roy Broussard and Ernest Thibodeaux on vocals, Earl Demary or Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Atlas Frugé on lap steel, Jim Baker on bass guitar, Oziet Kegley on drums, and either Will Kegley or Wilson Granger on fiddle. The flipside contained a less-than-impressive “Kaplan Waltz” based on Angelas Lejeune’s 1929 recording of “Pointe Noir”.  Since most Cajun 78s usually reached a pressing figure of 500, it was a big hit, pressing around 3,200 copies of the single.  Virgil sold boxfuls of “Pine Grove Blues” from the back of a large hearse.2


Virgil Bozman

Virgil kicked the label off with a string of tunes containing a discography of Cajun songs such as Nathan’s cover of Leo Soileau’s "Grand Mamou" (#106), "Lake Charles Two Step" (#106), “New Orleans Waltz” (# 110), “Hathaway Waltz”  (# 111), a re-recording of his pre-war “French Blues” (# 110), and an improved swingy version of his first hit called “Pine Grove Boogie” (#111). At one point that year, Virgil and Khoury convinced the hit artist of the area, Harry Choates, to wax a record, trying to capitalize on his fame giving it “Jole Blon’s Gone” (#107) and the obscure "Lake Charles Waltz" (#107). Neither Nathan nor Harry could recreate the success of the Pine Grove Blues O.T. recording.

Other musicians Virgil managed to get were Cleo Harves and Jerry Barlow on his listings. (# 103, # 105). The label would eventually move to San Antonio, run by James Bryant and Bennie Hess (former partners at Bill Qunn’s Gold Star records), however, by the end of 1949, O.T. suddenly dried up.


He released his last 4 recordings he was holding onto, outsourcing the pressings by mailing his masters to Stephen Shaw and George Weitlauf in Cincinatti, OH. The records contained Nathan performing covers of the Breaux tune “Step It Fast” (# 114) and a rendition of Harry Choate’s famous Jole Blon hit called "Jolie Petite Juliette" (# 114).  The other one  labeled as Sandy Austin was the stage name for Abe Manuel when he and his brother Joe played Corpus Christi in 1950. They recorded « Scrambled Eggs » and a Joe Falcon cover called  "Madame Saustain" (# 113).  The O.T. label only produced 14 records that are known to exist.


 


The Khoury/Lyric Years

Meanwhile, realizing Bozman is out of the Cajun music market and with the help of Eddie Shuler, George Khoury decides to continue Virgil’s recordings by creating two labels simultaneously, Lyric and Khoury’s, in 1950.  The reason for both names is unknown, but he set aside the 600 series for Cajun music and 700 series for hillbilly.  It’s also possible he bought out all of Virgil’s material and signed Nathan Abshire exclusively.


NOTE: Keeping track of George’s numbering scheme is confusing and leads to plenty of misinformation when creating a complete discography.  His reasoning for jumping around issue numbers, repeating numbers and missing numbers completely can frustrate anyone researching the label.  Over time, he would have two sets of 700 series, using several different logo styles.  Some numbers are issued only with “Lyric” name and some only with “Khoury’s” with a few issued on both.  He followed up with R&B issues using the 800 and 900 series. However, this didn’t prevent him from using the number “1” once, issuing one “500” once on Khoury’s, issuing a “100” on Lyric, and later issuing a “1000” and “5000” both on the Lyric name.   As far as anyone can tell, there were no session sheets that remain to prove any particular session dates.   Most of the discography work is speculation based on historical recordings and personal interviews with musicians. Dates here are approximates at best. 

There are a number of batches of records by artists which were probably assigned and then released at intervals.  The location of some of the larger gaps do suggest that the missing numbers could have been deliberately skipped.


The Early 1950s

During the first year in 1950, he recorded Lawrence Walker, Horace Lebleau, Crawford Vincent with Will Kegley, and Jimmie Choates.  Walker was a Cajun accordion player who had a history of playing music with his brother Elton, Norris Mire and Aldus Broussard before the war.  He even hosted a group of musicians at the National Folk Festival for the Texas Centennial in 1936.  By 1950, he was back in the studio interested in recording again, this time with Khoury. Lawrence’s songs such as “Mamou Two Step” (# 601), "Country Waltz" (#601), “Wandering Aces Special” which was Joe Falcon’s "A Cowboy Rider" (# 606), "La Valse Kim Fe Du Mal" (# 606),  "Tu Le Du Por La Mam" (#607) which was a Fawvor Brothers original and “Ton Papa Ta Mama Ma Sta Da All” (# 607) first appeared here.


All of these recordings appear on Khoury’s early 600 series as Cajun artists.  It’s possible the Texas Melody Boys with Pee Wee Pitre may have been recorded during this period which was given the only # 500 for “Ain’t No More”, a version of “Step It Fast”, and an old Creole melody they called “Old Time Waltz”.  Jimmy Choates band recorded “Lonesome For You” and “Belle Isle Waltz” and the band also appears on the country 700 series as #705.  Crawford Vincent, who played with Leo Soileau for years, teamed up with Will Kegley of the Pine Grove Boys for two tunes "Chere Petite Blun" (# 605) and the J.B. Fuselier classic "Lawtell Two Step" (# 605).  They were listed as Vincent & Cagley.  Horace "Ricky" Lebleu was a hillbilly musician from the Lake Charles area that teamed up with Nookie Martin of Eddie Shuler’s band for two songs "Korea Blues" and "Basile Girl"  (# 603).

Meanwhile, Virgil was back in San Antonio pressing songs by Cajun musicians he had previously recorded; most of them being Nathan Abshire’s band members. While in San Antonio, Bozman and Hess set up the Hot Rod label with local record man Bob Tanner of T.N.T. records. There, between 1950 and 1952, they recorded a few of Virgil’s artists such as Nathan’s lead singer, Ernest Thibodeaux on “Jennings Two Step” (# 105) and Nathan’s fiddler Wilson Granger on “Bayou Chico Waltz”. He released his last recordings of Nathan himself with "Hathaway Two Step" (# 103) and "Chere Te Mon" (# 103).  The recording quality wasn’t particularly impressive and could have been the reason for their unpopularity.   During this timeframe, Bob had also launched his Allied label, releasing several recordings of Harry Choates.

He also pulled in little known Cliff Lemaire and the Kaplan Swingmasters for the song "Cow Island Special" .   Obscure artist Tan Benoit also recorded two songs, "Iowa Two Step" and "Gueydon Waltz". Outside a few recordings by Virgil himself, the label did not last long.  Virgil’s attempt at the recording business was over.  Bob continued his TNT label well into 1953, pressing records for Eddie Shuler’s band as well as for Aldus Roger and Iry Lejeune.


Nathan Abshire


The following year, with Nathan no longer working for Virgil’s label, George contracted him to re-record "Pine Grove Blues" (# 611). It didn’t sell nearly as well as Virgil’s recording two years earlier, but it produced several titles popular with Nathan’s band such as “Belezere Waltz” ("La valse a Belezere") (# 610) based on the tune "A Precious Jewel" by Roy Acuff and “Choupique Two Step” (#610) based on Amede Ardoin‘s "Amede Two Step" . These were pressed on both the Lyric and Khoury label. Other songs were completed such as, “Valse de Hollybeach” (# 611), "Iota Two Step"  (# 612) and “Valse de Bayou Teche” (# 612), a tune originally recorded by the Segura Brothers in 1929. Nathan’s career with the Pine Grove Boys was taking off.

1951 would round off the year with Lawrence Walker again, this time recording “Johnny Can’t Dance” (# 615), the bluesy "Evangeline Waltz" (# 615), “Bosco Stomp”(# 616), "Waltz Of Sorrow" (# 616), "Creole Waltz" (# 617) and an upbeat version of Joe Falcon’s Lafayette as the “Lafayette Two Step” (#617).   It’s around this point when George began to switch labels from black to blue.



Lawrence Walker

By 1952, George’s label is doing well enough for him to attract other obscure local bands. He invites Lawrence Walker back again for “Reno Waltz” (#623) and an old Joe Falcon song “Madame Sostan” (#624) but Lawrence feels the pressure to record some of his English country favorites including "Little Bitty Girl" (# 623) which was a 1946 comical jazz recording by Velma Nelson and "Keep Your Hands Off It" (# 624). Khoury tries his luck with recording two rather unknown groups, one being Shuk Richard with Marie Falcon. Marie was Joe Falcon’s niece and played music in some of the same venues in which Joe had played. She sang her version of “Jole Blon” called “Jole Brun” (#621) and did her Cajun version of “The Wild Side Of Life” (#621)("Le cote farouche de la vic" ). The group cut "Madam Entelle Two Step" (# 622) and "Chere Vere Naig" (# 622) during the same session.  But it would be Elise Deshotel’s group which would feature a rather unknown singer and fiddler known as Dewey Balfa.   Possibly recorded in late 1951 or early 1952, they waxed some of the best known tunes with a young Dewey on vocals such as Leo Soileau‘s “Quand Je Suis Bleu” he called “La Valse de Bon Baurche”, Cleoma Breaux‘s “Crowley Waltz” he called “La Valse de Tepetate (Tamper Tate)”, and “La Valse da Courage” which is very similar to Nathan’s “Bayou Teche”.   The flipsides were instrumentals such as "La Two Step De Villeplatte", "Two Step De Avalon", and "Two Step De Kindergarden" (# 618, 619, 620). However, Khoury failed to latch onto marketing the bluesy vocals and powerful fiddle solos which Dewey would make famous ten years later.


Dewey Balfa and Nathan Abshire

The following year seemed to slow down for Khoury and his recordings.  Jimmy Newman would be George’s brand new artist but his recordings only sold moderately.  Nathan’s group was in turmoil due to band member changes and they were looking for more material to record.  Jimmy recorded his country tune “Darling” which somehow landed on the Cajun 600 series while the 700 hillbilly series seemed to fade away. Nathan recorded “Musical Five Special” (# 631), a cover of Joe Falcon‘s “Fe Fe Ponchaux” and “Avalon Waltz” (# 631) but also recorded some cover tunes, “The New Jole Blon” (# 636) and “Tee Per Coine” (# 636), a version of "Keep A Knocking But You Can’t Come In" . Crawford Vincent, who had played for years with Leo Soileau and other members, headed to the studio with Horace Lebleau and recorded “Tippy Tee Tippy En” (# 640), an old traditional Cajun ballad known as "T’es Petite et T’es Mignonne".


By 1954, things seemed to remain slow.  His 600 series seemed to employ more country music from Cliff Lemaire and Rick Johnson with one record by Nathan containing “Texas Waltz” (# 645), a slightly different version of his "Kaplan Waltz" and "Point De Lou” (# 645), a rendition of “Rabbit Stole The Pumpkin” in which Iry Lejeune had famously made into his “J’ai Ete Au Bal”. Strange enough, he would try to resurrect his Lyric label with Amar Devillier’s “Shoe Pick Waltz” and “Durald Two Step” using number #1 but never continued the series. He kicked off his second 700 series again, this time with Eddie Shuler covering “J’ai Passee Devant” (#700) and re-issuing Floyd Leblanc’s “Louisiana Stomp” (#700), a tune Virgil had recorded previously on O.T.


George reverted back to his original recording artists that he trusted and in 1955, released a string of tunes by Nathan Abshire and at least one by Lawrence Walker such as Nathan’s "Casa Blanca Waltz" and, "Lu lu Boogie" (# 647), "Shamrock Waltz"  (# 652) and "Carolina Blues" (# 649). The unusual songs, "Boora Roomba" (# 649), Dewey and Nathan’s version of “La Cucaracha”, and "Mama Rosin" (#652), also known as “Ay Mama Inez”, were attempts to cash in on the briefly popular Cuban rhumba influence which entered mainstream country music that year. However, George was now pressing his records using different logos and label styles, some in California.  Lawrence followed up with "Waltz of Regret" (# 648) and the "Brunette Two Step" .One inventory listing by Nathan’s band shows them covering some Happy Fats tunes but it seems to never have been released. The 600 series seemed to be fading away as well.

The Final Years

By the end of 1955, the writing was on the wall.   The influence of rock and roll was taking a toll on Cajun music sales.   R&B and country music was on an up hill swing and Cajun music sales weren’t the same as they were almost 10 years earlier.   He wouldn’t record any Cajun music until about 1956 with Nathan Abshire, both "Crying Pine Grove Blues" (# 701) and "L.S.U. French Waltz" (# 701), and in 1957 Cleveland Crochet with Shorty Leblanc, both on 45RPM and both on his new second 700 series. But by the time Cookie and the Cupcakes released their huge R&B hit “Mathilda”, George wasn’t interested in Cajun music anymore.  He would occasionally issue out a Cajun record to keep sales up.  He released one more Nathan Abshire on 45RPM in 1958 containing “Cannon Ball Special” (# 704) and “Red Rock Waltz” and a 45RPM of Pee Wee Broussard containing Angelas Lejeune’s “Perrodin Two Step” (# 709) and “Jolie Te Brun”.

Eddie Shuler, George Khoury,
Phil Phillips

Between 1956 and 1958, Cajun music recordings across Louisiana were on the decline.   Needing more exposure, Lawrence Walker heard a man named Floyd Soileau was starting up a recording label in Ville Platte.   Having already recorded Austin Pitre and Adam Hebert, the Khoury recording artist was eager to switch over to Floyd’s new Swallow label.   This ended the relationship between George Khoury and Lawrence Walker.   Nathan would eventually follow suit.

The following year, Khoury would land an even bigger R&B hit with Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love” and yet only released two Cajun records that year, Pee Wee Broussard’s “New Iberia Stomp”   (# 720) with “La Valse De Bons Amies” (# 702). The other one being “La Robe Barre” (# 725) and “Elton Two Step” (# 725) by Lawrence “Blackie”Fruge in 1959.


He would only re-release an earlier Cleveland Crochet “Sha Meon Waltz” in 1961 when he restarted his 1000 series as an R&B label which lasted until 1966.   Finally, in 1966, Wilfred Latour recorded “Bye Bye Cherie” and “Te Julie”, a couple of zydeco based tunes, believed to be George’s last French recordings.


  1. http://arhoolie.org/eddie-shuler-goldband-records/
  2. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven. P32.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Tolan Waltz" - Chuck Guillory

Murphy "Chuck" Guillory, originally from Mamou, was a good hillbilly, Cajun-swing singer and fluent fiddle player who recorded J.D. Miller's Feature and Folk-Lyric labels. He regularly performed alongside his father, playing fiddle duets at a local bar each Saturday afternoon. After WWII, he recorded with Cajun musician Milton Molitor with his band the Rhythm Boys (featuring a young singer from Beaumont named George Jones).   Miller had heard about Modern Records recording Chuck's group in New Orleans featuring Jimmy Newman and Papa Cairo in 1948.  The sessions had been part of an extensive southern field trip by Modern. By 1949, it's believed Miller brought them to his studio to record Guillory's "Tolan Waltz" and released it on Colonial.

Moi, j'connais, chérie, un jour à venir, chérie. 
Tu vas revenir, tu seras trop tard. 
Chuck Guillory

Tolan McCullough was a popular blacksmith, rice mill operator and saloon owner in Eunice, not far from Mamou. Chuck Guillory and Jimmy Newman composed this song in his honor. The song features a lengthy sample of Red Farbacher's playing style on steel guitar; the key person from whom Papa Cairo had borrowed the melody for "Allons Kooche Kooche" and "Grand Texas".  This time, they borrowed some of the melody of Joe Falcon's "Poche Town".

I know, dear, one day eventually, dear,
You'll return, you will be too late.

Colonial, a subsidiary of the Bihari brother's Modern Records, was a label out of Hollywood, California that released recordings between 1947 and 1952.  Les Bihari handled the sales and the other two brothers, Joe and Jules, supervised the production and distribution.  It focused on hillbilly, race, and gospel "spiritual" genres.  Sometimes confusion occurs with other labels with the same name in Monterey Park, North Carolina, Nashville, Berkeley Springs, Boston, and NYC.  It's possible J.D. Miller had outsourced his recordings and had Modern/Colonial press even more than he could back home.  Despite the popularity of the song, the market was too localized for this ambitious concern or its fellow independents.  Chuck retired in 1958.

In 1982, having been re-discovered, he re-recorded the tune in a new recording session, this time with band members Michael Doucet, David Doucet and guitarist Preston Manuel taking most of the vocals. In the late '80s, Guillory re-formed the Rhythm Boys to play dances and record for the Arhoolie label, with his 1987 sessions for the company later collected on the 1998 release Grand Texas. Later, Tolan would be covered by Dennis McGee and Sady Courville.


Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1949

Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1982

Chuck Guillory - Tolan Waltz - 1987



  1. South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous By John Broven. p34.
  2. MADE IN LOUISIANA.  VRCD 325.  MARC SAVOY - Accordion. DEWEY BALFA - Fiddle. D. L. MENARD - Guitar.  Liner notes.
  3. Billboard Apr 23, 1949
  4. Chuck Guillory: Grand Texas.  Liner notes.
  5. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/chuck-guillory-mn0000099796/biography
  6. Lyrics by Stephane F
Find:
Chuck Guillory: Grand Texas (Arhoolie, 1998)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Hathaway Waltz" - Nathan Abshire

Nathan Abshire grew up near Gueydan, Louisiana and lived on the prairies around Basile, not for from Hathaway.   After recording in the 1930s, he began playing at the Avalon Club during after his service in the war.   Several of the band members, including the bar owner Quincy Davis, wanted the band to record tunes in a studio.  According to Eddie Shuler of Goldband records, he didn't have time for Nathan because of Iry's success and sent him to Virgil Bozeman.  Having teamed up with George Khoury and Virgil Bozeman in 1949, Nathan Abshire recorded a slew of tunes, one entitled "Hathaway Waltz" (#111).   With Nathan on vocals and accordion,  Earl Demary or Ernest Thibodeaux on guitar, Atlas Fruge on steel guitar, Jim Baker on bass, Oziet Kegley on drums, and Will Kegley or Wilson Granger on fiddle, the group pioneered the first recordings for Bozeman and Khoury.
Earl Demary, Wilson Granger, 
Eldrige Guidry, unknown on drums, 
Nathan Abshire, and Ernest Thibodeaux

Hathaway is a rural community in Jeff Davis Parish, between Jennings and Basile, founded by George Hathaway. The community sits on an old trail which connected the French Opelousas settlement with the Spanish settlements in Texas. It was an area frequented by musicians passing through, playing dance halls between the major highways.  
Hé, toi tit fille, rappelle toi, chere, 
Les consel tu as entendu de autant que mon, 'tit monde.

Hé Ha Ha! 

Hé te vas voir ton erreur, chere, 
Te vas voir ton erreur, ça sera trop tard.

Hé! Hé  Hé.... 

Hé! Te malheurese, te peut voir, chere, 
Tu peut voir tant les chargin merite peu ça, tit monde.

George Hathaway

George Hathaway, a native of Indiana and educated at Greencastle, moved to Jennings to develop rice farming and built the Lake Arthur Rice Mill.  He moved with several families from Iowa, Kentucky and Indiana in the late 1800s in order to develop agriculture in the south.   With his success came more farmers and their families populated the area.2

Hey, you little girl, remember, dear, 

The advice you heard so much from me, my dear little everything.

Hey ha ha!


Hey, you are going to see your mistake, dear, 
You are going to see your mistake, it will be too late.

Hey hey hey!

Hey, you're miserable, you can see, dear, 
You can see so much the grief, deserving so little of that, my dear little everything.
By 1949, Nathan was the key artist Virgil Bozman had on his OT label.  He played in dance-halls such as the Continental Club located near Hathaway where many of the local rice farmers frequented.  "Hathaway Waltz"  is an ode to the region where Nathan played.


  1. http://hathawayhistory.blogspot.com/
  2. American Miller and Processor. Volume 39, Issues 1-6. June 1, 1911.
  3. Lyrics by Jerry M
Find:
Nathan Abshire & the Pine Grove Boys - French Blues (Arhoolie, 1993)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"It's All Over" - Pal Thibodeaux

"C'est Tout Fini!"  Elie Daise "Pal" Thibodeaux, Jr. was a Louisiana born musician that had teamed up with Bill Nettles and his Dixie Blue Boys recording for Mercury records.  Together they recorded tunes and broadcasted on KMLB in Monroe, Louisiana.3

By 1949, Pal had served in the navy, married Bill Nettle's daughter, Loyce, and began working with Bill as his guitarist and she as his vocalist.2  Bill's group consisted of Robert Shivers on fiddle, Pal on piano or guitar, Danny Dedmon on guitar, Levele Johnes on guitar, and Loyce on bass.  But by 1950, Pal and Loyce left "showbiz" and settled in Port Arthur, Texas.6
Longtemps Louisiane, t'es m'a quitter,
Tu m’as lessé pour toi aller,
Pour toi aller-z avec un autre,
Criminelle, c'est tout fini, asteur.

C'est tout fini, ma criminelle,
C'est tout fini, pour nous autres,
Longtemps Louisiane, t'es m’as lessé,
Criminelle, c'est tout fini, asteur.

Oh, mais, chere tit fille.

C'est tout fini, criminelle,
Oh ye yaille, mon coeur sur fait mal,
Jus pasque c'est m'a quitter pour toi,
Criminelle, c'est tout fini, asteur.

C'est tout fini, criminelle,
C'est tout fini, pour toi aller,
Longtemps Louisiane, t'es m’as lessé,
Criminelle, c'est tout fini, asteur.

Te m’as lessé pour ton aller,
Oh ye yaille, mon coeur sur fait mal,
Jus pasque c'est m'a quitter tout seul,
Criminelle, pour mon tout seul.
By 1951, he was working with T. Tex Tyler but left that year and headed back with Bill's group on KNOE.5   That same year, he signed with 4-Star records and recorded "It's All Over" (#4082).7  Before his recording career took off, he was shipped off to Korea to fight in the army. En route overseas, Pal formed a Western band aboard ship with Neal Merritt, who also cut for 4-Star and gave six shows on the high seas for which he revived an official commendation from his superior officers.1    

Long time ago in Louisiana, you have left me,
You've left to go away,
You've gone away with another,
It's terrible, it's all over now.

It's all over, it's terrible,
It's all over, for us,
Long time ago in Louisiana, you have left,
It's terrible, it's all over now.

Oh, well, dear little girl.

It's all over, it's terrible,
Oh ye yaille, my heartache, feeling bad,
Just because you've left me,
It's terrible, it's all over now.

It's all over, it's terrible,
It's all over, for you've gone away,
Long time ago in Louisiana, you have left me,
It's terrible, it's all over now.

You've left me to go away,
Oh ye yaille, my heartache, feeling bad,
Just because you've left me all alone,
It's terrible, for I'm all alone.
After the war, in 1953, he released "Port Arthur Boogie" for Sky Line records.8  By 1955, he had left 4 Star and switched to Imperial, changing his name to "Little Pal Hardy" (an ode to his mother Rena Hardy) while stationed in Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.4 





  1. Billboard magazine. Sep 13, 1952
  2. Billboard magazine. Aug 26, 1950
  3. The Mercury Labels: The 1945-1956 era By Michel Ruppli
  4. Billboard magazine. Feb 12, 1955
  5. Billboard magazine. Nov 24, 1951
  6. Billboard magazine.  Jul 22, 1950
  7. Billboard magazine. Apr 21, 1951
  8. Billboard magazine. Feb 21, 1953
  9. Lyrics by WF and Jerry M

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Je Vas Jamais Lessair Pleurer (I'll Never Let You Cry)" - Alley Boys of Abbeville

By 1939, plenty of Louisiana jazz music was on the airwaves and being played in larger dance halls. Keeping in step with current trends in Cajun music, the Alley Boys of Abbeville outfit modernized their sound by employing a rudimentary public address system that operated off of a car battery during performances.   This allowed their  They featured French renditions of mainstream American tunes.  



J'va jamais t'laisser pleurer pour moi,

Tu vas jamais savoir comment moi j'pourais etre,

J'va jamais te dire combien d'temps tiend l'amour,

Tu vas jamais savoir a qui c'est qu'j'a pres jongler,

J'va jamais t'laisser rester dans la pluie,

J'va pas t'laisser espere pour derien,
J'va jamais enmener des larmes a tes yeux,
J'va jamais t'laisser pleurer.
Sydney Guidry

The song they performed during a mammoth Vocalion session was "Je Vous T'aime Lessair Pleurer" in 1939 sung by Frank Mailhes.  Frank was accompanied by Sidney and Murphy Guidry on guitars, Lourse Touchet Leger on steel resonator guitar, and Maxie Touchet on drums.  "I'll Never Let You Cry" was written by Lew Pollack and lyrics by Sidney Mitchell two years earlier for the film "In Old Chicago".  Later, the song was popularized with Artie Shaw in 1938 and much later by Slim Whitman. 

I'll never let you cry for me,

You have never known how nice I can be,

I'll never tell you how much I'm in love,

You'll never know who I'm thinking of,

I'll never let you stay in the rain,

I'll not let you wait around for nothing,
I'll never allow the tears in your eyes,
I'll never let you cry.


In addition to maintaining club dates, the band found work on KVOL.  The Tuff-Nutt Company sponsored the group's weekly broadcast, though the business could only provide the group with uniforms as payment. According to Sidney Guidry:


You have no idea how bad times were in South Louisiana, around 1938-1939.  Man, times were tough and although Tuff-Nutt didn't pay us, we were happy to have the clothes.1



  1. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Find:
Cajun Vol. 1 Abbeville Breakdown 1929-1939 (Columbia, 1990)
Cajun: Rare & Authentic (JSP, 2008)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Mon Chere Bebe Creole (My Creole Sweet Mama)" - Dennis McGee & Sady Courville

"My Dear Creole Baby!" One of the iconic songs by Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee is "Mon Chere Bebe Creole (My Creole Sweet Mama)" recorded for Vocalion in 1929.   Cajuns use of French words, and the dialect that came with it, illustrated how isolated the culture remained from much of the rest of country. This was most evident in the songs they sung.   

The Cajun music genre appears to have borrowed this peculiar intensity from traditional Cajun and black Creole music, which, while they capture a wide range of emotions, excel at conveying pathos and despair.2 Author Shane Bernard recounts Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa's explanation:
In Cajun music you can hear the lonesome sound and the hurt...just like the blues sound of the black man is a sound deep hurt, deep sorrow.  The Acadians had it very tough from Nova Scotia down to Louisiana, and when they did get to Louisiana, they had a hard time.  And sometimes I feel that the Cajun sounds are of the loneliness and hardship they had back then.  This tendency emerges even in the earliest Cajun recordings, such as "Mon Chere Bebe Creole".2 

Regardez, donc, malheureuse,

Tu m'abandonnes pour toujours,

Malheureuse, aye yaille, j'suis après,

M'en aller, c'est pour mourir.



Dit "Bye Bye", chere maman,

Fais pas ca avec ton neg,

Eh, tu vas le faire mourir pour toujours,

Un de ces jours, Malheureuse,

Dit "Bye Bye" chere vielle maman.


Gardez donc, mais j'suis après,
Marcher, chere malheureuse,
Gardez donc pour toujours,
Malheureuse, malheureuse,
Dit "Bye bye" a ton pop et ta mom.

Gardez donc, fais pas ca,
Avec moi, chere petite, ah oui,
Maheureuse,
J'ai pas fait rien, chere, pour toi,
Fais pas ca avec moi, chere tite fille.

Gardez donc, malheureuse,
Mais gardez donc, jsuis après,
M'en aller dans les chemins,
Tous les jours, et les nuits,
C'est pour toi, malheureuse, si jolie.


Dennis McGee & Sady Courville
Those that lived here, with and without Acadian ancestry, sang songs that reflected the interracial dialogue between Cajuns and their Afro-Creole counterparts.   McGee continued to communicate musically cultural information about the influences and institutions that defined Cajun life before the Great Depression.3  

Cajun people remained largely un-Americanized until U.S. involvement in World War II. Swept up in the period's intense patriotism, Cajuns supported the massive war effort. In so doing Cajun GIs experienced a world much larger than the one back in Acadiana, while loved ones on the home-front pulled together to do their part for victory.4

Look at that, oh my,

You left me forever,

So unhappy, aye yaille, afterwards,

I'm going away to die.



Say "Bye bye, dear mom",

Don't do this to your old man,

Hey, you're going to make him die, 

One of these days, oh my,

Say "Bye bye, dear old mom".


Look at this, well, I'm headed out,
Walking away, dear sad one,
So look at this always,
Oh my, unhappy one,
Say "Bye bye" to your dad and your mom.

So look, don't do this,
With me, my dear little one, oh yeh,
Oh my,
I have done nothing, dear, for you,
Don't do that with me, dear little girl.

So look at that, oh my,
Well, look at that always,
I'm headed down the road,
Every day and every night,
It's for you, oh my, so pretty.
McGee's use of the word "Creole" could be used in a variety of ways; a word hotly debated among those that are familiar with it.  Just writing about this word from an academic standpoint can cause controversy.  The term "Creole" was first used in the sixteenth century to identify descendants of French, Spanish, or Portuguese settlers living in the West Indies and Latin America. There is general agreement that the term "Creole" derives from the Portuguese word crioulo, which means a slave born in the master's household.5 

Determining the accepted definition in 1920 among Louisiana natives can be difficult.   During the early recording years, it's usage differed between New Orleans natives and the rest of the Cajun prairie people.  Even though many non-Acadians settled in the Cajun country, there's no doubt by the 1920s, many considered themselves Cajun and/or Creole.   Even in France today, there's a distinction between "creole noir" and "creole blanche".  Regardless of the accepted definition, historical literature proves the word had different meanings based on location and time period.   

The music itself became known as either Cajun and/or Creole music.  Even by 1939, accordion player Joe Falcon, of Cajun and Spanish ancestry, was a featured performer on what was known as the "Creole Hour" at the National Rice Festival.3   Yet, Canray Fontenot, notably considered one of the finest Creole fiddlers, personally regarded his fiddling technique not as a traditional Creole expression, but an interpretation of Harry Choates' style.3  What could McGee mean by the word "Creole"?    Is this something different than Cajun?   According to author Herman Fuselier, "ask 30 people and you'll get 30 different answers."6

Despite the dialect's decline, Cajun identity and ethnic pride remain strong to the present. The ethnic intermixing that created the Cajuns is still evident in the names of some of the most famous Cajun musicians: Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker, and Dennis McGee were all renowned Cajun musicians with surnames of non-Acadian origin. This paradoxical embrace of others while forging a strong Cajun identity can perhaps be summed up with this observation from Dennis: 
"McGee, that's a French name," he proclaimed. "I don't know anyone named McGee who doesn't speak French."4




  1. Dennis McGee & Sady Courville.  Jack Bond
  2. Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues By Shane K. Bernard
  3. Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music By Ryan Andre Brasseaux
  4. http://www.medschool.lsuhsc.edu/genetics_center/louisiana/article_acadianscajuns.htm
  5. Creoles by Helen Bush Caver and Mary T. Williams
  6. http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/entertainment/2015/07/09/mean-creole/29942095/
  7. Lyrics by Stephane F
Find:
Louisiana Cajun Music Volume 1: First Recordings - The 1920's (Old Timey, 1970)
The Complete Early Recordings of Dennis McGee (Yazoo, 1994)