Sunday, May 1, 2022

Happy Fats with Tee Denise and the Bayou Buck-A-Roos- "The Carencro Waltz"

 One artist that has kept Cajun Music researchers confused was an accordion player named Theotis "Tee" Denise. Almost nothing has been known of him except of two 45's released with his name on them and a vague association with Happy Fats.

The 1960's found Leroy "Happy Fats" LeBlanc keeping busy as usual. Earlier in the late 1950's, he had to seek employment outside of music, mostly due to the influence of rock and roll. But he still kept busy performing with many of his groups such as the Southerners and the Bayou Buckaroos.

While Happy had started his recording career in 1935, in the late 1940's he was recording with J.D. Miller. He would continue recording for Miller off and on until 1976 with a variety of bands.

By the start of the 1960's he was helping boost his friend, Alex Broussard, and his first recordings on La Louisianne. Happy also kept busy with live appearances and television spots. KADN and KLFY both aired his shows during the 1960s, including his popular show "Mariné". His recording partner, Doc Guidry, recalled those years:

"We were on seven radio stations. We did country and French music, just the two of us. Happy had amateur hour on KSLO in Opelousas on Saturdays. Then we'd leave there and go to Abbeville and do the same thing at the theatre. That was for five or six years."

JD Miller had taken a break from recording Cajun Music in the mid 1950's. He kept busy recording Blues and R&B sides for labels such as Excello. In 1960, he would sign Nathan Abshire to his label along with Aldus Roger. With two of the biggest names in Cajun Music; he was back in business.

Happy returned to recording for Miller in the late 1960's. Miller at this time had his Kajun and Cajun Classics labels and was recording a variety of different artists such as Floyd LeBlanc, Aldus and Nathan. Happy would return with new Cajun sides as well, along with a new band including a accordion player named Tee Denise.

But the history between Happy and Tee Denise went back to the 1940's. It was then that Tee Denise started on radio with Happy at the Old Dixie Theatre in Abbeville. During the years, Tee had his own band and also was a professional painter and a club operator. He would join Happy and his Bayou Buckaroos along with Joe Turner for a recording session at JD Miller's.

"The Carencro Waltz" was recorded at Modern Sound Studio in Crowley in the late 1960's. Along with Happy on guitar and Tee Denise on accordion, the track features Joe Turner on vocals. Sadly the other members of the band are unknown.

As for recording, Happy was winding down. He would record two more records for Miller and then made two with Floyd Soileau's Swallow label. Tee Denise would continue playing music, sometimes with Happy and his band. He would own and operate The Famous Blue Moon on Hopkins Street in New Iberia with great crowds on the weekends.


Session info:


V/g or b with Theotis Denise (?), fdl, st-g, g, b, Joe Turner (v-1)

Modern Sound Studio, Crowley LA: late 1960s

JH 442 Bayou Buck-a-Roos special (inst) Cajun Classics 2014

JH 443 The Carencro waltz-1 Cajun Classics 2014


John Broven- South To Louisiana

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music Blog

Ann Savoy- Cajun Music Volume II

Thanks to Wade Falcon on Tee Denise info and pics.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Austin Pitre- "Opelousas Waltz"

 Austin Pitre was born in 1918 in Ville Platte, in a time when house parties were fading, and dancehalls were replacing them. Austin grew up in this era and it had a heavy influence on his sound. 

Many landmark musicians lived nearby or played dances near where Austin grew up. Fiddlers Douglas Bellard and Leo Soileau were from the area and Amede Ardoin played around the area with Dennis McGee. The music and the life of hard work helped develop Austin's sound through the years.

The Pitre's were sharecroppers working for fifty cents a day. The boss wouldn't even pay his workers till Monday, so they wouldn't waste their money on the weekend. Despite the hard way of life, Austin's father gave him a accordion in hopes that he would learn to play with him at the house parties. Shortly afterwards, Austin learned to play and was playing alongside his father on the weekends.

Austin grew up having to work and supply extra money for his family, by working in the rice fields. He soon made himself a fiddle from a cigar box, spending his evenings watching the rice field water pumps and practicing his fiddle. Austin remembers:

"In those days it was all violins. Grandfather played the violin- they're all dead now... We had songs in the house, in the dancehalls.. we played violins together when we were young. We would play four violins together. Everybody sang in the fields then."

Austin later married and continued on with a hectic schedule, working in the fields or as a mechanic all day, while playing dances at night. During WWII he formed a string band and played for soldiers who came down from Fort Polk. Austin didn't have to go to war, as he was the only son left to help support his family.

After the war, Austin started up his band, The Evangeline Playboys. The group first recorded for J.D. Miller out of Crowley in the late forties, but for his second set of  records in the mid-fifties, he used the help of the Rhythmaires; a band led by Chuck Guillory out of Mamou.

By the late fifties, Austin was working at Bordelon's Ford Garage with Harry LeFleur. Austin would ask Harry is his band, Harry and the Louisiana Aces would work with him to cut a record for Floyd Soileau's Swallow Records. The songs they recorded were well received, so they started working together on a regular basis. The first one they recorded was in October of 1959 and was called "Opelousas Waltz".

He', tit couer, comme moi, je vas faire

Quas, moi, tout seul, chere tit monde, a la maison?

He', tite fille, tu connais j'mennuie de toi, 

quo faire, toi t'es gone, chere tit monde,

maison si loin?

He', catin, quo' faire, toi, t'es comme ca?

Quais apres me quitter moi tout seul dans les miseres?

He', tit monde, tu cannais je m'ennuie de toi,

Ouais, cher tit coeur, viens me rejoindre avant de mourir

Opelousas, Louisiana is an old city and was once an Indian Trading Post. The word Opelousas comes from an old Indian work for "dark or murky water".

"Opelousas Waltz" was among the first records to be made at Floyd Soileau's studio in Ville Platte. In the 1950's and 1960's, Austin and his band played the large dancehall circuit of the time. The band played eight dances a week at the Silver Star, Evangeline Club, Hick's Wagon Wheel- a endless list. Austin also played for KVPI in Ville Platte's Man Store an for KSLO in Opelousas for many years.

Marc Savoy recalled Austin's playing:

" Austin was a very muscular man. He would play his accordion standing without a strap to support the accordion. He had a unusual sense of timing combined with a very intricate, fast technique."

After years of hard work and constant playing, Austin's health went down. Open heart surgery and serious back problems, were too much to handle and he died in 1981.



Ann Savoy- Cajun Music Vol. 2

Raymond Francois- Ye Yaille Chere

Session info

AND EVANGELINE PLAYBOYS (106, 108) V-2/acdn, Harry LaFleur (fdl), J Audrey ‘Cabrie’ Menier (v-1/st-g), Dickey Gill (g), Eston Bellow (d) Swallow Studio, Ville Platte LA: October 1959 S-6311

 Opelousas waltz-1 Swallow 106

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Leroy Broussard- "Lemonade Song"


The history of Cajun music is filled with songs that have been passed down, borrowed from and rearranged. "Lemonade Song" is among those songs and is filled with interesting history.

The song's beginnings start with a recording by Columbus Fruge in 1929 called "Point Clear Blues". Jimmie Choates transformed the song into "Petite Negres" in 1948 along with Blackie Dartez. The song was recorded again in 1957 by a musician from Rayne who named it as "Lemonade Song".

Leroy Broussard was born November 8, 1921 to parents who played the accordion. Like many families, Leroy's family made the move from South Louisiana to Texas following work. Growing up, Leroy listened to Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker and J.B. Fuselier. When Leroy was twelve years old he moved back to Louisiana and for a while even played with Nathan Abshire.

He moved back to Texas in 1948 and started playing with Joe Cormier's band; playing every day except Monday's. Leroy recalls:

"They'd come from Houston, they'd come from all over, and they went for the French music. They had people who had come to that bandstand and said they had never heard it, but they liked it."

Leroy and his band, The Happy-Go Luckies, became a big hit at the B.O. Sparkle Club around this time. He continued to play in Texas for nine years, then he quit. He came back to Louisiana and worked in the oilfield for some time, then he started working for the city of Lafayette and began playing music again. He would eventually return to Texas and run the Sparkle Paradise for a while.

After 1955, Eddie Shuler was focused on recording more Cajun musicians. He had had some success with Sidney Brown's accordion based recordings and was open to record Leroy when he came to his studio and recorded "Lemonade Song".

Moi j'aime cousin et moi j'aime cousine mais j'aime mieux la cuisinière.  

Samedi, ce soir, moi courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon. 

Dimanche matin, il est tout manière malade,

Passez lui le verre à limonade.

L'hiver arrive, l'hiver arrive, ton p'tit nég a pas de couverte,

Samedi, ce soir, l'ai courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon,

Dimanche matin, j'ai tout manière malade, 

Passez moi le verre à limonade.

Moi j'aime cousin et moi j'aime cousine mais j'aime mieux la cuisinière.  

Samedi, ce soir, moi courir au bal, moi saoulé comme un gros cochon. 

Dimanche matin, il est tout manière malade,

Passez moi le verre à limonade.

Moi je bois du vin et moi je mange des dattes, et tout ça, ça me coute pas rien,

Samedi, ce soir, l'ai courir au bal, je m'ai saoulé comme un gros cochon,

Dimanche matin, j'ai tout manière malade, 

Passez moi le verre de Kary-On.

His band at this time consisted of himself on accordion, Freeman Hanks on fiddle, Robert Thibodeaux on drums and Charlie Babineaux on guitar. Leroy and his band would record only four songs at Goldband studio, he would go on to record for La Louisianne and also Kajun Records. He would continue to claim he wrote "Lemonade Song". One night Leroy met legendary accordionist, Moise Robin at a bar and struck up a conversation about songs. Leroy insisted he wrote the song and Moise reminded him that Columbus Fruge wrote it first. The argument became heated and Moise told Leroy:

"I told him, "You're wrong!"  He got angry.  I said, "Okay, but someday I might find 'Boy' Fruge's record, and even if I have to go to your home, I'll find out where you live and I will show you that it's not you who made that record."



Ann Savoy- Cajun Music Volume 2

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music blog

Session info:


V/acdn, Freeman Hanks (fdl), Charlie Babineaux (g), Robert Thibodeaux (d), 

Goldband Studio, Lake Charles LA; 1957

-A Lemonade song Goldband 1048

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Iry Lejeune- "Come And Get Me"



On December 9, 1929, Amede Ardoin and his partner, Dennis McGee, recorded their first recordings in New Orleans. The very first song they recorded was a number called "Taunt Aline". Ardoin's popularity took off after their first recordings and the music influenced generations to come. One of those influenced was a young boy named Iry LeJeune.

Iry grew up fascinated with the music he heard around him. His great uncle, Angelas Lejeune, was one of the top accordion players in the area. Like McGee and Ardoin, Angelas had recorded in the 1920's as well, recording for the Brunswick label. At the sessions, Angelas would record "La Valse de Church Point" and the first recording of "Perrodin Two Step". Playing with him on the sessions were Dennis McGee and a Church Point fiddler named Ernest Fruge.

Iry would visit Angelas who lived just a mile away and it was there Iry learned how to play the accordion. Angelas also introduced the young Iry to the sounds of other accordion players. At his home, Angelas had a phonograph player and played Iry 78's of other players such as Amede Ardoin, Joe Falcon and Amade Breaux. Iry would sit and listen and study these records, retaining every note in his head. Surely it was there that Iry first heard Ardoin and McGee playing "Taunt Aline".

By 1954, Iry had recorded and released several records. The band kept busy with playing clubs across the area as well. They would play the Blue Goose in Eunice and at the Shamrock Club. Milton Vanicor recalls Nathan Abshire stopping by the Shamrock and playing with Iry and the band one night. Iry would also play at the Red Barn Club in Texas and the China Ball Club in Bristol. Luderin Darbone recalls Iry stopping by the Silver Star to listen to the Hackberry Ramblers from time to time.

In 1952, Eddie had recorded Iry at his home on his reel to reel recorder. He returned in early 1954 to record another session for upcoming releases. The recordings were made over several dates and included Iry, Wilson Granger and Alfred Cormier. For one of the songs they recorded, Iry drew inspiration from Ardoin's "Taunt Aline" and used it for his song, "Come and Get Me".

Oh ye yaille, chere tit monde, catin,

Mets-toi voir bien jongler

Ca t'as fait.

C'est pas la peine

Que tu le lamentes.

Viens donc me chercher, ye yaille.

Ton papa va venir.

Je peux pas aller t'apres.

Oh, tite fille, c'est tous les soirs,

Je me couche.

J'embrasse mon oreiller

Des fois en jonglant,

Faire des accroires que ca serait toi

Qui serais la, ye yaille.

Mais, tout je peux voir,

Tu t'en reviendras pas

Me revoir.

Iry's version of the song tells about a young man lamenting that his "catin" won't come back since her father brought her back home. He sings of the young man kissing his pillow and believing in is her beside him. The song was also known as "Viens Me Chercher".

Iry's 1954 recordings would be his last for Eddie Shuler. His recordings for opened the doors for many other artists to record. Eddie was known to often say that Iry never made a record that wasn't a hit and by the mid 1970's, Iry Lejeune's records were still the most popular of the Goldband artists. As for the melody of "Taunt Aline" and "Come and Get Me", it would go on to be used by The Balfa Brothers for their 1974 recording "J'Sus Orphelin".



Ron Yule- Wailin The Blues Cajun Style

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music blog

Session info

V/acdn, Wilson Granger (fdl), Alfred Cormier or Eddie Shuler (g)

Lejeune’s house, Ardoin Cove, Lacassine LA: 1954 

Come and get me Gb1057

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


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."



Swallow Studio, Ville Platte LA: 1968

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

my heart Swallow 10196

S-45-1022 Marie Swallow 10196


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 (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


John Broven- South to Louisiana

Wade Falcon- Early Cajun Music blog

Ron Yule- Cajun Dancehall Heyday