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Enter Doc Guidry

Enter Doc Guidry

Doc Guidry, fiddle in hand, met Vin Bruce and me at Orleans Theriot’s bar in Golden Meadow at 5 p.m. one Sunday in 1960.

Vin had met him once at a Jimmy Davis rally in Golden Meadow and I had backed him with my band in the 1950’s at a St. Bernadette church fair in Gray, Louisiana, where he was the featured artist.

Doc was at the peak of his fame then, having a Decca Records hit, “Chere Cherie”, backed with “Little Fat Man”, two songs he had written. He had recorded a duet with Jimmy Davis with their arrangement of “Colinda” for Decca records.

The song had Caribbean roots and had been sung by Cajuns as “Dans Colinda” since the 1800’s.

Jimmy was the first to add and sing English lyrics while Doc sang the Cajun lyrics and it created national attention.

“Vin,” he said, “I’ve admired you for years and now I get to record with you. It’s quite an honor.”

“The honor is ours,” Vin replied.

“When I got the call from our friend Woodley Comeaux, I hadn’t played for months, having cut my finger, but I practiced all week and it seems OK. What are the songs?”

Vin gave him a list with a smile and asked him, “Do you know any of these?”

After reading it, he smiled back and said, “Maybe! I’ve been playing these 6 Cajun songs you recorded for Columbia for years and I wrote ‘Tee Maurice’ and ‘Chere Cherie’. As for ‘Big Texas’, ‘Big Mamou’ and ‘Jole Blon’ any Cajun fiddler who didn’t know those would have been run out of town on a rail. Some came with the ‘Grande Derangement’ of the Cajuns from Canada in 1755. Let’s cut them!”

As we got to the KLFT studio, Roy Vicknair had just signed the station off the air for the night and was arranging the two mikes and drums as he had for the single we had cut less than a month before and whose success had merited releasing a 12-song vinyl LP 33 and 1/3 rpm album right away.

The musicians were already there, Harry Anselmi on lead and steel guitars, (he would play both since Luke Charpentier was not available), and Mack Cheramie on drums who both played in the Vin Bruce Trio at the local club “La Nige”.

The other musicians were friends who were returning past favors, D.J. Collins on rhythm guitar and Ebdon Barrios on electric Bass, who is also a good songwriter and has written many songs for Vin and other singers.

Roy Vicknair, satisfied that all was in order after several sound checks, announced from the control room, “Vin Bruce and the Acadians. Tee Maurice take one.”

Doc kicked it off and for the next 7 hours we recorded 11 songs, never having to do more than two or three takes on any song.

Doc was in top form and the musicians, being familiar with the songs, were at their best.

We wrapped it up at 2:30 Monday morning, and Roy had to put the station back on the air at 6, opening with a recording of the Rosary. Good timing! We needed all the help we could get.

With the two we had recorded with Wilbur Robichaux the previous week, we now had 13 songs from which Floyd Soileau would choose 12.

Our major worry as Vin and I headed to Ville Platte a day later was how was the sound?

Floyd played the tape, listened intensely and finally said, “Great! Better than I expected. Good sound, good musicians, especially Doc. I’ll personally call Mr. Vicknair and thank him. I know you two are staying in Lafayette tonight, so here’s an advance on the album, have fun,” and he laid us each a one hundred bill in our hands.

I didn’t remember having seen one before but I knew how to use it so I turned to Vin and said, “You think you can find Woodley Comeaux’s Bar?”

Vin said, “I can find any bar anywhere any day or night, let’s go!”

Next week, the conclusion and the future of two musical friends.

Bye now!

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