In 1954, the members of my band “The Rebels” were Louis Breaux on steel, Terry France (deceased) on drums, and Edward Barker, Jr. on trumpet.
Ed, still in his teens, was from Lockport, born in 1937. He was a fine young man with red hair, and although short in stature he was tall in likeability and personality.
While playing music he obtained a music degree from S.L.I. in Lafayette, (now ULL). Ed taught school in Lafourche Parish for 30 years and in 1961 married Marjorie “Marge” Verrett from Morgan City. They had two sons.
Sadly, Ed passed away in 1996 due to radiation treatment he received as a baby, a tremendous loss to his family and his community.
Today Marge is curator of the Folk life & Heritage Museum in Lockport across the street from The Bayou Playhouse where my son Perry is Artistic Director. Marge allows him the use of the museum for his season opening parties.
When Ed left the band to complete his education I replaced him with Henry Vegas, Jr. from Cut Off. Henry was a good musician and quite a character.
I recently got back in touch with him after many years. He is well and informed me that his son Ricardo is a musician following in his father’s footsteps. Careful Ric! Some footsteps, like some of your Dad’s, and some of mine, should only be followed with great caution at your own peril.
In 1961, I had a Kay Bass, a homemade amplifier and was addicted with a fervent desire to play music, But I faced a crisis! (“Crisis, Will Robertson, Crisis”—Robby Robot “Lost in Space”). For the first time in over 14 years I had no band to play with and no ambition to form a new one. “Woe, despair and agony on me” — from the “Hee Haw” gang.
My life was busy and hectic but pretty happy with my full time job in the Lafourche Parish Assessor’s Office, two part time jobs, bookkeeping and radio, and raising a growing family with an understanding wife, who had to be to put up with me.
I was also donating my services as emcee for civic functions and hosting the Farm Bureau and Lions Club annual beauty pageants. Yeah! I know! Being surrounded by beautiful young ladies was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
I kept practicing to improve my bass playing which I eventually did, despite much skepticism from my friends.
I am proud to have been awarded a certificate “Best bass player of 1972” at the Lafayette Cajun Festival and in 1981 “best all-around bass player and emcee” at the National Folk Festival in Vienna, Virginia, a suburb of Washington D.C.
Minor awards over all, but big events in my little world. “I’m Martin and this is my world”. (Sounds familiar? I steal/borrow from anyone.)
Humble and modest? Me? Remember what baseball great “Dizzy” Dean once said: “It ain’t bragging if you can do it!”
Dizzy had a brother nicknamed “Daffy” and they were both great pitchers and baseball dem-i-gods.
Can you imagine two super star brothers named “Dizzy” and “Daffy”? Unbelievable!
I remember at seven years old sitting with my neighbors on my Uncle Lorris Callais’ front lawn listening to baseball games and prize fights on a radio he would kindly put in his window. There were few radios around and since the power company had not reached us (not until 1937) a car battery was used to power it. I never saw Dizzy pitch, but I did hear his fastball hit the catcher’s mitt on the radio. What a thrill. Later in his life Dizzy Dean became famous to a new generation as a radio and T.V. baseball game announcer who sang Roy Acuff’s “Wabash Cannonball” on every broadcast.
But I digress. My future was ahead (it mostly always is, isn’t it?) and there the best twenty-five years of my musical career awaited me.
Next week my evil side emerges again as I discard an old and faithful friend for a new and irresistibly prettier and more curvy one.
Comments are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on Tue, May 24, 2016
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer