The Cajun seafood banquet prepared by Raleigh Pitre and Leonce “Ferin” Duet for the Troy Martin family was a feast fit for a king with shrimp cocktail, crab salad, gumbo, skillet fried redfish, fried shrimp and oysters, shrimp creole, and Cajun bread pudding.
Everything was devoured, although the kids passed on the gumbo because a crab claw was sticking out. “Yuck!” I believe they said.
The redfish was especially delicious and I asked Ferin about it.
“Dip in melted butter, dredge through herbs and spices and cook in a hot cast iron skillet,” He said.
Looking back I realize this sounded pretty much like the Blackened Redfish dish that Paul Prudhomme “invented” decades later. Way to go Ferin!
Back at the hotel we chatted and church keyed cans of Jax and Dixie beer. There were no pop-a-tops yet … remember this was 1952.
Not a word of English was spoken, but lots of mo-dee, (darn); dee mon pas?, (don’t tell me); va ton la bas, (get out of here); mee-sair (misery); say-la-vie, (that’s life); and when the right card was turned, boo-ray, (I won the pot). A pure Cajun gab fest.
When my friend Vin Bruce recorded for Columbia Records over a year earlier, his musicians were known as the “A” team, Chet Atkins, Owen Bradly, Tommy Jackson and Jerry Byrd.
They had invented the Chart system and monopolized recording sessions. Other musicians just as good waited their turn for an A team member to die or move on. Such was their society. As country music flourished in the 50’s and 60’s, more sessions were booked, more musicians migrated in and the monopoly dissolved. I got the “B” team, but after hearing how good they were, I wondered “how good must the A team be?”
The musicians were handpicked by Troy who winked and said, “Demo session musicians are less expensive, but just as good.”
It suddenly dawned on me that I was recording a Nashville session, with Nashville musicians, to audition for a major record label and I thought to myself, (also with a Cajun accent), “Cher Bet! It don get no better dan dat! (Sic).” It didn’t, but that comes later.
The sessions went well with two of my Cajun songs, “Valse Du Bayou” and “Vieux Hobo”, and a Gene Autry song, “Only One Love”, all published by Peer International, (naturally, since I had signed over my two songs).
The last song of the sessions was T. Texas Tyler’s “You’ll Still Be In My Heart”, a Peer published song written by Ted West in 1943.
Hearing it, Troy said, “That sounds familiar.”
“It should,” I said. “It’s a song Peer published and Hank Williams used the melody to write “Cold, Cold Heart”, his greatest hit.”
“You’re sure? Hold the session, I got to call Mr. Peer in New York,” He said and left.
While Troy was on the phone, I listened to the playback of my voice with those great musicians and I asked myself, “What am I doing here? Am I good enough for this?”
A bottle was passed around and after a swig I reassured myself, “Sure I am! Go for it! As Yogi Berra once said, ‘The future is all ahead of us’.”
Troy came back and said, “Mr. Peer knows about it and his staff of lawyers will research it. You’ll meet him Saturday at the B.M.I. awards presentation so wear a suit. (I had to rent one). I also scheduled an interview with a popular young announcer, Ralph Emery, on W.S.M. and then your appearance of the Ernest Tubb Show.
Tomorrow I’m taking my family and your gang to a Nashville style fried chicken picnic in the park. The rest of your week will be busy.”
It sure was!
Next week I’ll write about Ralph Peer, how we met, the Decca Records episode, the radio shows, the picnic in the park and the journey back home.
Always remember, “You lose 100% of the chances you never take.” Unfortunately, those are the best words of wisdom I can think of to leave you with. Below my standard! Sorry! I’d advise you to ask for your money back, but this paper is free.
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Posted on Tue, March 1, 2016
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer