Cajun Honky Tonk kicks off with the wailing cries of Jake Miere, pleading alongside Nathan Abshire's driving accordion, as they belt out "Crying Pinegrove Blues". These recordings represent the early musical efforts of down home Cajun musicians recorded on the Khoury label in the 1950's, including Dewey Balfa's very first recordings with Elise Deshotel. Raw, rough, and inebriated with emotion, these cuts give you a taste of what local folks were playing for themselves, at dances, beer joints, and honky tonks, no doubt!
1. Crying Pinegrove Blues - Nathan Abshire
2. Chere Te Mon - Nathan Abshire
3. Mamou Two-Step - Lawrence Walker
4. Country Waltz - Lawrence Walker
5. Old Time Waltz - The Texas Melody Boys
6. Ain't No More - The Texas Melody Boys
7. Valse De Lake Charles - Harry Choates
8. Jolie Blon's Gone - Harry Choates
9. Orphan Waltz - Floyd LeBlanc
10. Louisiana Stomp - Floyd LeBlanc
11. Tu Le Du Po La Mam - Lawrence Walker
12. Ton Papa Ta Mama Ma Sta Da All - Lawrence Walker
13. Evangeline Waltz - Lawrence Walker
14. Reno Waltz - Lawrence Walker
15. Boscoe Stomp - Lawrence Walker
16. Tran La Ezy - The Musical Four Plus One
17. Lawtell Two-Step - Vincent & Cagley
18. La Valse De Bon Baurche - Elise Deshotel/ Dewey Balfa
19. Le Two-Step De Ville Platte - Elise Deshotel/Dewey Balfa
20. La Valse De Courage - Elise Deshotel/Dewey Balfa
21. La Valse De Tamper Tate - Elise Deshotel/ Dewey Balfa
22. Le Cote Farouche De La Vic - Shuk Richard/ Marie Falcon
23. Jole Brun - Shuk Richard/Marie Falcon
24. Madame Entelle Two-Step - Shuk Richard/ Marie Falcon
25. Waltz Of Regret - Lawrence Walker
26. Wandering Aces Special - Lawrence Walker
“Arhoolie has released another compilation of historic recordings, this one spotlighting some Cajun musicians from the 1950s recorded on the Khoury label. Among them are: Nathan Abshire, Lawrence Walker, Harry Choates, Dewey Balfa and Elise Deshotel. Because of the age of the original recordings, the sound is a bit tubby and coarse, but that doesn't effect the vitality of the music. For example, Walker's jumping button accordion on "Mamou Two-Step" is great fun. On the other hand, "Country Waltz" suffers greatly from pitch variation. The source recording must not have been made at a steady speed. Luckily the good tracks outnumber the iffy ones.
Some of the best ones are the sprightly "Valse de Lake Charles" by Harry Choates, which features some swinging fiddling; and the big sound of the "Orphan Waltz" by Fred Leblanc. It's a little difficult to tell how many musicians are playing in the latter track, but it sounds like they've got piano, guitar, steel guitar and fiddle all going at once. Walker's "Boscoe Stomp" is another good track with a bass drum that won't quit and some high-spirited fiddle and accordion playing.
It's interesting to hear the piano on several tracks, because this instrument seems to be lacking in most Cajun bands these days. On "Lawtell Two-Step," the pianist even gets a chance to solo.
It is a little frustrating to have these important recordings of early Cajun performers accompanied by such paltry liner notes. The folks at Arhoolie missed their chance at producing something really useful for the Cajun-music enthusiast. Granted, the music on this disk is entertaining without the historical background, but it could have been enlightening as well. Still, after listening to this disc, it's easy to hear how Cajun music has both changed and remained the same over the past 40 years.”
(EB — Sing Out)
“Arhoolie's Cajun Honky Tonk disc features many influential recordings from the Khoury label (and OT & Lyric -all financed by George Khoury, who later had big hits with Cookie & The Cupcakes "Mathilda" and Phil Phillips' "Sea Of Love" in '59). During the early '50s the bigger record companies had long since abandoned cajun music, but the war had taken most younger musicians away during the early '40s, bringing cajun music back into favor since the older musicans who were left to play dances played that style. Many of these tracks have metamorphose,d into zydeoo hits, such as Nathan Abshire's "Crying Pinegrove Blues," which is often heard as "Ma Negresse." Many of these melodies are still heard often in both cajun and zydeco music. Other artists featured are: Lawrence Walker (his earliest recordings), The Texas Melody Boys, Harry Choates (his "Jolie Blon's Gone" is · uite sim ilar to "You Are My Sunshine"), Floyd LeBlanc, The Musical Four Plus One, Vincent & Cagley, Elise Deshotel with Dewey Balfa (also Balfa's first recordings), Shuk Richard & Marie Falcon. Some of the tracks were featured on earlier Arhoolie LPs. Accelerating Americanization brought on the advent of swamp-pop but in the last 20 years the older styles have come back strong.”
(MB — Blue Suede News)
“Meanwhile, dredged from the archives, we have 26 tracks from the significant '50s label Khoury Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Dewey Balfa makes several appearances alongside Elise Deshotel,
Lawrence Walker is prominently represented, and Nathan Abshire turns in yet another version of Pinegrove. The gems are swing-influenced tracks from Harry Choates and (sadly only one) from the excellent Vincent & Cagley; Cajun with pianos - great! Also the mighty singing of Marie Falcon, whose French Wild Side Of Life is miles better than Quo's.
There's some spirited playing and singing,and obscure songs well worthy of covering, but the recording quality is mostly poor, and you have to put up with irritations/endearing eccentricities like drummers who like to hit every beat of the bar with equal force, and the Texas Melody Boys' accordeon, a candidate for the knacker's yard or at least an urgent appointment with the tuner. File under 'interesting.'”
(Brian Peters — Folk Roots)
“To get straight to the point, this is essential of its kind ranking along with only a very few albums covering Cajun music of the immediate post-war decade. Flyright's magnificent two-volume set of Jay Miller material, that was released in the 80s, the Ace CD collection of Iry LeJune's complete works; and Arhoolie's own previous volumes of Nathan Abshire's Khoury sides and Harry Choates's Gold Stars; these are just about the only records I can think of that deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as this magniticent CD release.
Abshire's two find his band at its most sublimely anarchic. "Pinegrove Blue" is a riot while "Chere Te Mon" manages to sound like a drunken whoop and a poignant lament all at the same time. Only a Cajunno only Nathan Abshirecould manage such a delicate balancing act and survive never mind produce a masterpiece in the process. Choates is much smoother; he had eccentricities of his own but they are not really on display on the two rather restrained, but still rermarkably beautiful records here. These are not from Khoury's but from OT Records, which was a venture partly enhanced by George Khoury before he set up his own label. One of Floyd LeBlanc's two sides here is also from OT - he too plays fiddle and sings, and the effect is similar to Choates, although distinctive enough in its own right. The Musical: Four Plus One, are also led by a fiddle, but this is completely different - a classic wild Cajun blues track with some amazing lead guitar that manages to be completely inappropriate, but is still somehow just right. Only a Cajun (see above). Still with fiddle features, Vincent And Cagley are different again, harking back to the 1930s country-influenced sound, with some gorgeous piano playing.
Lawrence Walker is very much the featured artist on the disc, with nine superb tracks. The most extraordinary is "Evangeiine Waltz." The melody is most unusual, modulating all over the place and he decorates it superbly, but it is the thumping bass drum dominating the accompaniment tha really makes it so distinctive. The other great feature of the disc is that it reissues, for the first time, so far as I am aware, the sides by Elise Deshotel which include Dewey Balfa on fiddle and vocals. As they are the very first recordings by one of the greatest of all Cajun muslcians, these alone make the disc a worthwhile purchase. They live up to the Iegendary reputationespecially "Tamper Tate" a waltz with achingly beautiful vocals. The Texas Melody B0ys sound almost as if they could have been recorded back in the pre-war days, with a sparser, old-fashioned instrumental sound, especially "Ain't No More" which has a very traditional step-dance kind of feel. On the waltz the vocalist throws in a Choatesish "Eh, ha ha" just to show that he is up with the latest trends, but he's fooling nobodyterrific stuff. I could go on, but the only way to do justice to this music is to listen. Having raved so recently about Yazoo's Dennis McGee's collection it is almost embarrassing to have another disc along that is nearly in the same class. Notes by John Broven, a couple of nice photos and a well-designed booklet cover. Damn near perfection, if you ask me.”
(Ray Templeton — Blues & Rhythm)