New PDF release: BAYOU BOOGIE: THE AMERICANIZATION OF CAJUN MUSIC, 1928-1950

By Ryan A. Brasseaux

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Indeed, the enormous popularity of country music legend Jimmie Rodgers in Cajun country reinforced the blues’ presence in the Cajun repertoire. This musical fusion persisted, as Cajuns created a variety of musical hybrids and the pendulum swung from the Early Commercial Era into the Cajun Swing Era (Falcon 1934). By 1935, small acoustic accordion based ensembles began to give way to more substantial string-based orchestras. Lawrence Walker and Nathan Abshire, a pair of experimental accordionists who would become two of the leading proponents of the postWorld War II dancehall sound, recorded the clearest example of the shift to Cajun Swing on the Bluebird record label.

To earn extra money, Blind Uncle Gaspard and Delma Lachney decided to perform on the streets of Chicago in the freezing weather, a decision that almost proved disastrous. Not only did Gaspard drop his guitar—which somehow remained undamaged—on the frozen pavement, Lachney caught a cold and endured the recording session despite several sneezing bouts. ” A pair of solo performances by Alcide Gaspard rounded out the session (Brown 1999:3-6; Spottswood 1990). Alone with his guitar and ethereal voice, Blind Uncle recorded the most remarkable material during the Chicago session, a pair of French ballads with guitar accompaniment: “Mercredi Soir Passé (Last Wednesday Night)” (Vocalion 5281) and “Assi Dans la Fenetre da Ma Chambre” (Vocalion 5280).

Indeed, non-Acadian peoples, including American Indians, French, and enslaved Africans were the initial settlers in Avoyelles and Evangeline Parishes, a phenomenon that mirrored migratory and settlement patterns in Louisiana’s other important colonial hamlets. Natchitoches, Louisiana—one of the most important eighteenth century French settlements west of the Mississippi River—was a product of the same colonial society that shaped the music in Avoyelles and Evangeline Parishes. Founded in 1714, the town served as the most important trading post along the same Red River that Blind Uncle Gaspard and Delma Lachney celebrated in song.

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BAYOU BOOGIE: THE AMERICANIZATION OF CAJUN MUSIC, 1928-1950 (M.A. Thesis) by Ryan A. Brasseaux


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