Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys- " Bayou Pon Pon Two Step"


 

                                            

Joe Bonsall was one of 11 children and was born in Lake Arthur, La. He learned to play music at his mother's knee; Theresia Theriot Bonsall, was an accordion player. While the name Bonsall is not French, it is English. His ancestor was rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Louisiana according to family accounts. The survivor was adopted by the Cajuns, became immersed in the Acadian culture and fell in love with a local woman of French descent.


Joe was inspired by Lawrence Walker and Joe Falcon growing up.  In 1937 his family moved from Lake Arthur to the Gum Cove area north of Vinton in Calcasieu Parish. He was known to play house dances during this time with "Moot" Harrington. The original Orange Playboys were formed by Joe around 1952-53 when Moot Harrington retired from performing. Over the next couple of years a steady stream of musicians played with the Orange Playboys.


John Lloyd “Tee Bruce's” Broussard's parents moved to Port Arthur, Texas around 1924 from Carencro, Louisiana and there February 25, 1929, “Tee Bruce” was born. After graduating from High School in Port Arthur he spent two years in the Air Force and worked for a Texaco refinery for 38 years. During that time he frequented  the Twilight Club in Port Neches, Texas every Saturday night listening to Cajun music. This is about the time he got interested in the accordion and bought one and learned to play. He didn't consider himself a good accordion player, but played for his own amusement. He played in a band for a while and made accordions for about eight years. “Tee Bruce” answered the telephone for Huey Meaux's Cajun show on KPAC Radio station and later at KOLE Radio. He then was able to start his own Cajun show on KOGT Radio in Orange, Texas. For 14 years he hosted “Tee Bruce's Cajun Jamboree.”



Joe and the Orange Playboys first made their mark on the recording scene when they recorded for Goldband Records in 1962. In 1963, Joe Bonsall contacted John “Tee Bruce” Broussard and asked him to produce recordings and help promote Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys. The group released a couple sides on Floyd Soileau's Swallow label at first. 



Floyd Soileau recalls the association:


"Tee Bruce originally pushed him onto me and I did their recordings in my studio, the last studio I had. But later on, he developed his Cajun Jamboree label and he was recording and trying to sell some records and tried to make money on it, and later he sold me the masters on his Cajun Jamboree stuff. But they came in and did a couple of records in my studio."


By 1965 Joe and his band were releasing records Tee Bruce's Cajun Jamboree label. The second record they released on the label was a spirited version of a Iry Lejeune classic that the band made into their own and called it "Bayou Pon-Pon Two Step". The band at the time consisted of Joe on accordion, Bobby Caswell on guitar, Russell Quebodeaux on fiddle, Tilford McClelland on steel guitar and Rayford Quebodeaux on drums.


The songs goes back further than Iry's version of course. Iry's relative, Angelus LeJeune, recorded it in 1929 as "Bayou Pom Pom One Step" and a earlier version of the melody was recorded by Joe Falcon as "Osson". Early Cajun music researcher, Wade Falcon, writes that Bayou Pon Pon (spelled either "Pon Pon" or "Pom Pom") is a mythical town, somewhere in Lafourche Parish, in which comedian Walter Coquille would use as the basis for his 1929 satirical recordings on Brunswick records.


                                     









Session info:

Gold Star Studio, Houston TX; 1965

6946 (LH 2275) Over the waves-1 Cajun Jamboree 803, 

6947 (LH 2276) Bayou pon-pon two step-1 Cajun Jamboree 803






Resources

Cajun French Music website

Ron Yule- Cajun Dance Hall Heyday

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music blog

Nick Leigh- Cajun Music Discography

Interview with Floyd Soileau


Monday, October 4, 2021

Aldus Roger and the Lafayette Playboys- "Marie"




Aldus Roger started playing the accordion at eight years old. His father had a accordion and Aldus would steal it and take it to the barn to play. By the age of twenty one he was good enough that he playing local dances, with Art Freme and Felix Richard. 


While he played the dancehalls at night, during the day he would work as a carpenter. He would make his mark when he formed his band, The Lafayette Playboys, in the late forties.


By the late fifties and early sixties, Aldus Roger was one of the most popular figures in the dancehall scene. Aldus was keen on his band being polished and disciplined. The band was always in demand and was known for their danceable sound. The band reached a new highlight when they had a weekly television show on KLFY in Lafayette.


The Lafayette Playboys recorded for various labels through out their career. In 1953, they recorded for the TNT label. In the mid fifties they recorded several sides for J.D. Miller's Feature label. They would record for Eddie Shuler and Floyd Soileau near the end of the decade.


In 1960, Aldus decided that he had served his time and wished to retire. The retirement would be short lived, for in 1962 Aldus was chosen by Roy Theriot to represent Louisiana at the Folklore Festival in Washington D.C. As a result of this, many friends persuaded him to reorganize his band.


Around 1963 Aldus and his band signed on with La Louisianne Records and recorded with them for the most part of the sixties. By 1968 he returned to recording for Floyd Soileau's Swallow Records. 

The band on this session differs from his previous band; Phillip Alleman is replaced by Isaac Miller on steel guitar. Vernon Bergeron plays drums with Louis Foreman and Tony Thibodeaux on fiddle. Rounding out on bass guitar is believed to be Beaver Leger.


By this time, Floyd had built his studio on East Main Street in Ville Platte when Aldus and his band came in to record a new single. Floyd had a multi story open studio at this time so he had the accordion and singer upstairs and the drummer downstairs.


Floyd recalls:


"..and Aldus was famous for drinking a few more beers than he should, and he was drunk and putting the empty beer can on the drummer and he was ruining the take, and finally I said, "Look, we got several great takes on this song, but while don't we do it one more time, and why don't y'all give me a longer finish on it before we end it." And with that in mind, I was able to fade it out and we were able to capture a very good cut on it. And it was a big record for us in Cajun music."



The record would be a moderate hit for Aldus, one many fans still sing and play.


Moi je peut pas t’oublier bebe
Tu sa-vais que moi j’taimer 
Tu sa-vais que moi j’taimer  catin depuis l’age de quartoze ans

Oh Marie catin garde donc ca t’as fait 
Garde donc t’apres m’quitter apres quitter ton pauvre vieux negre bebe 


Aldus slowly stopped putting out records after the Swallow single. He would go on to release two singles for the Acadian Artists label and then returned in the 1980's, releasing a single for Lanor Records. In a interview with Ann Savoy, Aldus was asked about the future of Cajun music:


"I don't know. But I know what's going on now. They don't play right. Belton Richard can play when he wants to, Milton Adams, the Touchets from Kaplan. I also like Reggie Matte, Nolan Cormier. They still got some that can play when they want to, but to me they still play too much rock and roll and country."


                                       



& LAFAYETTE PLAYBOYS


Swallow Studio, Ville Platte LA: 1968

S-45-1021 Be careful, you’re breaking 

my heart Swallow 10196

S-45-1022 Marie Swallow 10196


Resources


Interview with Floyd Soileau

Ann Savoy- Interview with Aldus in Cajun Music Vol 1

notes to La Louisianne 107

Conversation with Michael Dupuy

lyrics- Michael Dupuy

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Lionel Cormier and the Sundown Playboys- "Sundown Waltz".







   

 

Inspired by the response to Iry Lejeune's records after his death, the 1950's found Eddie Shuler becoming more involved in recording Cajun Music. During these years he recorded Sidney Brown, J.B. Fuselier and Aldus Roger. Another great group he recorded was the Sundown Playboys.


The Sundown Playboys first started recording in 1951. Though they have gone though different members; The Sundown Playboys are the musical journey of the Lionel Cormier family.


Lionel Cormier learned the accordion from his father at a early age. By the time he 12, he was playing the accordion at house dances across Acadia Parish. In 1935 he settled in Elton playing a few house dances following World War II. He would begin playing with Percy Fuselier in 1947 and form the Sundown Playboys.


The group started out with Lionel on the accordion, Wallace "Red" Toucet on fiddle, Howard Mier on guitar, and Lesa on drums. Lesa was replaced on drums by Clifton "Tan" Benoit on drums when he served in the miltary from 1951-1953.


The group first recorded in 1951 on J.D. Miller's Feature label. Lionel was successful in landing radio airplay including places like KPLC in Lake Charles, KSUL in Sulphur and KJEF in Jennings. Their second recording was in 1956 at Eddie's Goldband studio. By 1955 Eddie Shuler was no longer depending on local radio stations to record his artists at. Eddie recalls:


"I built the studio in 1955, my father in law designed it. He was a carpenter, so him and his brother built the studio according to my specifications."


For their second recording the lineup for the Sundown Playboys had changed. Lesa Cormier ws back on drums after his military service. And fiddler Wallace Touchet was replaced with the great Dewey Balfa. Dewey recorded with the Sundown Playboys for their first two sessions for Goldband, but by the third session in 1959, Wallace Touchet was back on fiddle.


The mid 1950's found Dewey to be a in demand session player. It was then he started recording with Nathan Abshire, a recording career that lasted until Nathan's passing. He also recorded with Elise Deshotel during this time on the Khoury's label.


 Lionel and the Sundown Playboys recorded for Shuler's Goldband label from 1956-1959. "Sundown Waltz" was off the group's second recording session for the label in 1957. Lionel let Dewey handle the vocals on the track.




After their recordings for Goldband the group would return to recording for J.D. Miller on his Cajun Classics in 1960. But gone was Howard Mier and replaced with Lawrence "Blackie" Fruge. As for Lionel he would make one more record with the group in 1969 on the same label.


Lake Charles had started Cajun Days in 1967 and by 1971, it was hosted at the Bamboo Club on Highway 14 with Lionel and the Sundown Playboys as headliners. After finishing the song "Church Point Two-Step", Cormier died of a heart attack unexpectedly, while taking a break as KJEF radio announcer Jerry Dugas was making announcements between songs. 


The following Saturday night the band had a booking, so 15 year old Pat Savant joined to help. With Pat joining the group, the band headed in a new direction.

                                          



Session info:


LIONEL CORMIER AND THE SUNDOWN BOYS (1054, 1073)


Lionel Cormier (acdn), Dewey Balfa (v/fdl), Howard Mire (g), Larry Miller (st-g), 

Lesa Cormier (d)

Goldband Studio, Lake Charles, La; 1957

-A River two step Goldband 1073, Goldband(E) GCL110 

-B Sundown waltz Goldband 1073







Resources

John Broven- South to Louisiana

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music blog

http://wired-for-sound.blogspot.com/2011_11_24_archive.html

Ron Yule- Cajun Dancehall Heyday

Monday, August 9, 2021

Jack Leger and the Southern Playboys- "Southern Playboys Special"




                                                                            

Jack Leger was a resident of Opelousas and a native of Port Barre. A World War II veteran, he was a accomplished accordion player who played for many years in Acadiana.

Marc Savoy remembers him well:

"His accordion playing was a beautiful old style reminiscent of Angelas Lejeune. His playing was a transition from the old to the new influences, but he always managed to maintain the technique developed by the old-timers."


Jack's musicians were always either Roscoe Guidroz or his brother Lester. Dave Guidroz, a cousin of these two brothers, was the usual drummer. The fiddler was, for the most part Shelton Manual of Eunice or Ray Cormier of Church Point.

Marc Savoy on Jack:

"Unfortunately his talent was never recognized to the extent that it should've been. His band rarely featured a steel guitar and, during the 60's, the absence of that instrument in a dance band would have prevented any band from being hired in the more popular large dance halls where the better paying jobs were to be found. Jack and his band played a lot in the bars in Eunice and made the rounds at local jam sessions."


A some point in the 1950's Jake made his first record on the Jag Label out of Opelousas. Jag was a label ran by Jake Graffignino. Jake Graffignino was a musician himself and led his own band called Jake Graffignino's Orchestra. He started playing trumpet as a kid and led various jazz bands as a young man. After the World War II, Jake continued playing with jazz bands and travelled over the states playing. But his wife got tired of the travelling, so Jake settled down and opened Jake's Music Shop in 1953.


In the late 1950's he had recorded Rod Bernard and released him on his rare Carl label. Graffignini only had three labels; Carl, High-Up and Jag. Jack and his band were one of the bands from the Opelousas area which Graffignino recorded and released on his Jag label. This one record would be Graffignino's only venture into recording Cajun Music, recording artists like Little Bob instead.


Jack's recording on Jag would be his first record. "Southern Playboys Special" features Jack on vocals and accordion. While the rest of the band is lost to time. The writing credits appear Leger-Labbe on both sides. This could be Wilfred Labie who play guitar in Adam Hebert's Country Playboys. Also interesting is Leger having a full band including steel guitar on the recording.


Jack's "Southern Playboy Special" is similar to another great Cajun song of the 1950's; Sidney Brown's "Sha Ba-Ba" otherwise known as "Chere Bebe".


Jack Leger would continue playing in the area and would go on to record for Lanor and Bee Records later in the 1980's. 

Jake Graffignin0's short lived labels would go on to provide a springboard for several Opelousas area artists.


                                      



Jack Leger and the Southern Playboys

Acdn, ‘Labbe’ (prob. Wilfred Labie) (v/g), fdl, st-g

Opelousas LA c1950s

J 25 Courtableu waltz Jag 101

J 26 Southern Playboys special Jag 101


Resources

Marc Savoy email interview

Cory McCauley

Shane Benard (for his interview with Jake)

Pudd Shard

Jared Mariconi 




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Isaac Leger and the Country Cajuns- "Cajun Club Special"



                                         

The 1960's saw a boom in new labels devoted to releasing Cajun music. While many of these labels were smaller than their contemporaries such as Swallow and Goldband, they still released some great recordings.


As electronic recording equipment became more available, some artists began recording themselves and releasing the recordings on their own label.

One of those smaller labels was the Marie label which was run by a musician named Ed Credeur. 


The Jennings native had played with many groups such as Joe Bonsall and Jesse Lege in the late seventies and eighties. By 1975, Ed was playing in a group led by Isaac Leger called the Country Cajuns.


Born in 1936 in Church Point, Isaac Leger became inspired to play the accordion by his cousin's husband; Iry Lejeune. During the late forties, Iry and his wife would visit Isaac, travelling by buggy on Sunday afternoons.


By 1965, Isaac formed The Country Cajuns, with Ray Thibodeaux on drums, Junoir McClelland on steel guitar, Tony Leger on bass, and T-Boy Esthay on fiddle. Ed Credeur was known to play with the groups as well. They would play in Basile at the Bearkat and Main Street Lounge as well as T-George's in Lake Arthur.


The group also played the Club 90 in Iowa, playing every Friday and Saturday night for seven years. But it was 1970's that they played at The Cajun Club in the LeBleu settlement. The club was owned by Phil Menard and the Country Cajuns alternated weekends with Phil's band, The Louisiana travelers.


Around 1975, Ed gathered the Country Cajuns into his home in Jennings. Ed had acquired a reel to reel recorder recently and wanted to record the group and release a 45 rpm record of them on a label of his named Marie, named after his wife.


With the rise of dancehalls in the late 40's, many artists would record songs with the clubs name in the title to act as a promotion for the club. Nathan had the "Avalon Waltz", Austin Pitre had "Manual Bar Waltz" and "Chinaball Blues" and Aldus had "Hix Wagon Wheel Special". The Country Cajuns recorded a ode to Phil's club, aptly named "Cajun Club Special"


Isaac Leger and the Country Cajuns released "Cajun Club Special" backed with "Country Cajun Waltz" on the Marie label in 1975. The recording features Isaac on accordion, Ed Credure on fiddle, Jesse McClelland on steel guitar, Tony Leger on bass and Morris Newman on drums. The group's lone release seems to be Marie's only output.


"Cajun Club Special" bears resemblance to Iry LeJeune's "Donnez-Moi Mon Chapeu" which Isaac would have learned from his time with Iry. Iry had borrowed the tune from his relative, Angelas Lejeune, who had recorded it in 1929 as "Petite Te Canaigh".


                                     




AND THE COUNTRY CAJUNS

Acdn, Ed Credeur (fdl), Jesse McClelland (st-g), Isaac ‘Tony’ Leger (b-g), Morris 

Newman (d)

Ed Credeur’s house, Jennings LA 1975

Country Cajun waltz (inst) Marie 001

Cajun Club special (inst) Marie 001




Resouces

Crystal Leger

Jesse Lege

Ron Yule- Cajun Dancehall Heyday

with thanks to Wade Falcon

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ervin LeJeune & Jake Bertrand with the Calcasieu Cajuns- "Lacassine Breakdown"




                                       


It was only natural that Ervin Lejeune follow in his father's footsteps. He remembered as a small child that his father would put him on  his lap and let him play his accordion. Being his father was Iry Lejeune, it would be only a matter of time before people started asking him to play.


Ervin grew up exposed to Cajun music and musicians. At the age of 9 he began playing at dances where the band would let him sit in with them. In 1963, Ervin played at a tribute to his father in Bridge City at the Sparkle Paradise. By 1963, he moved to Sulphur for work and began playing with musicians in the area. One of those musicians he met was Jake Bertrand. 


Jake was playing in a group at the time called the Calcasieu Playboys. The group was started in 1947 by Louis Lopez from Elton. Louis never had a set group of members for his group and sometimes use a pick up band.


 By the late 1960's, the group had members that included Garland Domingue, Atlas Fruge and Lenis Lapoint. The group would play clubs though out southwest Louisiana including the Blue Moon and The Shamrock. Sadly, Louis never made any recordings with the group and passed away in the 1970's. It seems when Jake took over the group they changed the name to the Calcasieu Cajuns.


But it was in the late 1960's when Ervin met up with the group and started playing with them. Buck Records was a early label of Clinton "C.E." Diehl out of Jennings. It was around this time that the Calcasieu Cajuns with Ervin recorded one 45 rpm record for the Buck label. The record seems to be the first recordings of Ervin.


At Diehl's studio in Jennings, the group recorded a cover of one of Iry's first recordings called "Lacassine Special" and titled it "Lacassine Breakdown". 


Ervin's accordion playing on the record shows a eerie resemblance to his father's playing. On the recording with him was Jake Bertrand on fiddle, Atlas Fruge on steel, Lennis Lapoint on guitar, Elwell Brashear on bass and Tan Benoit on drums.


As for the Calcasieu Cajuns, the group disbanded after Jake Bertrand became ill and passed away. Ervin had been playing with Jake's son Robert and would join him in the Louisiana Ramblers.

                                    



Session info:


ERWIN LEJEUNE, JAKE BERTRAND + THE CALCASIEU CAJUNS

V/acdn, Jake Bertrand (fdl), Atlas Fruge (st-g), Lenis Lapoint (g), Elwell Brashear 

(b), Tan Benoit (d)

C.H.Diehl Studio, Jennings LA 1971

SH 1575 Calcasieu Playboys waltz Buck 501

SH 1576 Lacassine breakdown Buck 501


Resources

Ron Yule- Iry Lejeune- Wailin the Blues

Ron Yule- Cajun Dancehall Heyday

with thanks to Jesse Lege and Jo El Sonnier

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Nathan Abshire and his Pine Grove Boys- "Crying Pine Grove Blues"




George Khoury started off his 700 series for his label in a odd fashion. He reissued a Eddie Shuler Goldband recording on one side and a Floyd Leblanc Opera song on the other. It really didn't matter to him though. R&B and country was riding high and rock and roll was moving in. Khoury's 700 series reflects these changing times by the lack of Cajun music he was releasing.


By 1955, Nathan Abshire had to rebuild his band. After the tragic stabbing of Atlas Fruge in 1954 by Will Kegley; his group was split up. Fruge never worked with Abshire again and Kegley moved back to Texas. Ernest Thibodeaux left the band shortly after the incident as well. With plenty of gigs and recording sessions at hand, Nathan had to assemble a new band.


He found his new group by adding three new members. Dewey Balfa was a in demand fiddle player and had played with different groups on the Khoury's label. Junior Benoit slid into Ernest Thibodeaux's guitar position and a young oilfield worker named Jake Miere had the task of filling in Atlas Fruge's steel guitar sound. This new group would carry Nathan through the remainder of his Khoury's years.


Jake Miere was a multi- instrumentalist, playing guitar, drums and steel guitar with different groups in the area. Born in Morse, Louisiana in 1924, he started playing music at 16 years old. His first recording with Nathan was in 1955, playing on "Lu Lu Boogie". He was also on hand for Nathan's first entry on the Khoury's 700 series, reworking one of Nathan's classics into "Crying Pine Grove Blues".


Nathan first recorded "Pine Grove Blues" in 1949 for the O.T. label to favorable success. He recorded it again in 1951 revamping the sound and calling it "Pine Grove Blues No. 2" for the Khoury's label. Then in 1957 at the height of rock and roll, he upped the ante and recorded a version more powerful than the previous two.


"Crying Pine Grove Blues" was released on Khoury's 701 and typical of the time, it was released on 78rpm and 45 rpm. The song was recorded in Lake Charles either at Eddie Shuler's studio or at KPLC's studio. The song features a call and response from Nathan and Jake Miere adding a new twist on the Nathan classic.


Alright, Mr. Jake


Oh négresse! (Quoi tu veut mon neg?)


Ayoù toi t'as été hier au soir, négresse? (neg j'allait couri au bal)


Oh négresse! (eux-autres ils te regard donc toi, quoi tu veut?)    


Ayoù toi t'as été hier au soir, négresse? ((j'ai bu un tit brin trop de whiskey....juste y en a pour les petites enfants)  


T'arriva à c'matin, l’soleil est après se lever, négresse! (Ha ha ha ye yaille)



"Braille neg, Braille comme tes miseres, Braille pour ca t'as fait"


Alright, Mr. Jake


Oh négresse! (Quoi tu veut encore, mon negre?)


Ayoù toi t'as été hier au soir, négresse? (ils vendait ca a trois-quarts, qui tu veut encore!) 


Oh négresse! (Qui y a, neg, qui y a avec toi ?)    


Ayoù toi t'as parti hier au soir, négresse!  (neg, je croyais je t'avait dit ca, j'etais parti au bal)


T'arriva à c'matin, ta robe était toute déchirée, négresse! (Ha ha ha ye yaille)


But it was the end for Khoury's. The label had begun in 1950 and had released classics by Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker and many others. The live, daily radio broadcasts that Nathan had had since the late 1940's were fading out and giving way to pop records. Even the Avalon Club which had been vital for Nathan and his band, closed its door in 1956 after Quincy Davis passed away.


After Khoury's folded, Nathan went on to record some of his best sounding records in the early 1960's at J.D. Miller's in Crowley. Members such as Junior Benoit and Dewey were mainstays in Nathan's new group at this time. And with the folk revival in the 1960's, Nathan's music was opened up to a new audience. 


As for Jake Miere, he would record two more records with Nathan and it seems he left the group in 1959.He would team up with his brother in a group called the Rambling Playboys. In the 1970's he would join Russ Broussard and form the Cajun Playboys. The group would record one 45 rpm record for Swallow Records.


                                      


Session info:

AND HIS PINE GROVE BOYS (701)

Acdn, Dewey Balfa (v-2/fdl).Jake Miere (v-1/st-g) and probably Cleveland 

Deshotel (fdl), Junior Benoit (g), Thomas Langley (d)

Lake Charles LA (probably Goldband Studio); 1957

R 1311-A Crying pine grove blues-1 Khoury’s 701,


Resources

Ron Yule- Cajun Dance Hall Heyday

Louisiana Music Vol 1- Lyle Ferbrache and Andrew Brown

thanks to Michael Guillote

lyrics- Louis and Ashlee Michot