“Music Soothes the Savage Beast” … Unknown
“Music, Music, Music” … Theresa Brewer
“Music is forever” … Paul Simon
“I pray my music harmed none of the above quotes.” … Leroy Martin
This column contains memories, observations, laments and comments, all true, but take the humor with a grain of salt because I don’t take myself too seriously and neither should you.
I played music for forty years and was either good, average, mediocre, pedestrian, so-so or inferior … all evaluations I received through the years. Ever hear me? Pick one.
In 1986, I left the music business to devote full time to my new job, Lafourche Parish Assessor, thanks to the kind voters.
For the next ten years I only used my guitar for benefits, school Cajun Day parties, and lectures on Cajun music at colleges and fairs with Vin Bruce.
Then in 1995, at the behest of my former recording label, I recorded a Cajun CD, (hear it on ITunes). I picked it up again 10 years later but a mean, cruel entity named “Mr. Arthur Rightist” made me lay it down. I never touched it again.
When Dudley Bernard hired me for his newly formed band “The Southern Serenaders” in 1947, he also brought in Pott Folse on drums and Harry Anselmi on steel guitar to join him and his lead guitar player, Luke Charpentier, Jr.
We became very popular. Ahem!
Pott was an ex-Marine who sang novelty songs the folks loved. Luke was a lead guitar player whose father, Luke Charpentier, Sr., had owned the first jitney dance hall in Golden Meadow, later Rebstock’s.
Harry’s lap steel, (later a 4-neck Fender), was novel to our area and he and I sang the songs that were not Ernest Tubb. That was Dudley’s domain and he had Tubb’s style and sound down pat, and Tubb was king of the Cajun Country.
We played all over South Louisiana.
Dudley played open string rhythm guitar, fretting at the top of the neck as most beginners and singers do because closed chords are more difficult to coordinate while singing. That doesn’t apply to master guitar players like Brad Paisley, Glenn Campbell and Keith Urban who can manage both.
I learned orchestration or “chop” chords which substituted for an upright bass fiddle, an instrument that didn’t fit in car trunks. The major bands had one, usually played by a comedian with a funny costume and blacked out teeth. I learned the major, minor, flat, sharp, diminished and 7th chords, with hard practice and bleeding fingers.
In time my fingertips develop callouses which stopped the pain and blood.
When Dudley left the band for the more lucrative oil fields, I took over but quit to get married in 1953, the same year I took the job of Lafourche Parish Chief Deputy Assessor. I missed playing music so when nightclub owner Lee Richoux came to my house and urged me to form a new band for his club, I agreed and the “Rebels” were born, consisting of Terry France (deceased) on drums, Henry Vegas, Jr., on trumpet and Louis Breaux on steel guitar.
The gigs were on weekends which did not interfere with my regular job. Louis put his steel up right and used it as a rhythm guitar which mimicked piano triplets like Fats Domino played. A new musical genre was upon us, so we adapted with Louis doing most of the Rock and Roll songs. He was a hit, the folks loved him and the band was quiet popular. Double Ahem!
From 1954 to 1959, we played sometimes three times a week at “Tee Lee’s”, formerly “Tee Mon’s” night club in Raceland. When Louis left for the navy, I hired Philip Boudreaux, Jr. from Chauvin (“Tee Caillou”). He later became recording artist Phil Bo, and had Jin Records hits like “Don’t Take it so Hard.” Phil lives in Lafayette.
After the navy Louis married his sweetheart Margaret and they raised two sons. He still plays at nursing homes.
Next week I’ll tell you how, in anger, I harmed the neck of, and abandoned my faithful companion of 15 years, and how I sought and found a new, prettier and younger one.
Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Tue, April 19, 2016
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer