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Flat Town U.S.A.

Flat Town U.S.A.

“Floyd’s Record Shop, Jin/Swallow Records and Flat Town Music Company were founded by Floyd Soileau in 1956 and 1957 respectively, and were cultivated from a part-time job selling records to supplement his radio disc jockey income at KVPI in Ville Platte, Louisiana. His record sales become so popular that he decided to leave the radio station to sell and produce records, and the rest, as they say, is history”. (John Broven, British author of “South to Louisiana” a history of South Louisiana music.)

Well, not all of it, anyway. John Broven is a friend of mine who visited and wrote nice things about me too, but why should my readers care what Mr. Soileau woulda, coulda or shoulda done? Because, dear readers, for a major part of my musical career, I aided him in producing records by Vin Bruce, Joe Barry, Barbara Lynn, Phil Bo, Mickey Gilly, Jimmy Donley and about a dozen other artist including, oh yeah, me! Two of my productions, Barry and Lynn sold over one million.

Continuing the story of “Vin Bruce Sings Jole Blon”, his first LP and Jin/Swallow/Flat Town’s only second LP release. I received a box with 10 of the new albums with a note saying “help promote in your area.” I was disappointed to discover the albums had a plain cover with no pictures but I started promoting it.

My friend and fellow musician, Dudley Bernard, had recently been elected State Representative and Jimmy Davis had, for the second time, been elected Governor of Louisiana. I called Dudley and said, “The Legislative session opens Monday so would you present one of Vin’s albums to Jimmy (we both knew him well, but that’s another story) and get a picture to publicize it?” He did, they did and I did.

A week later I get a phone call from Floyd Lee; I goofed. I hedged my bet by not funding a full color picture cover for the L.P. It was only my second one instead of the 45 rpm’s I had been producing (one of which was a million seller).

“This should go on Forever by Rod Bernard so I want to make it up to you. Your publicity picture of Dudley and the Governor has hit all the local papers and the albums are flying off the shelves, so get a good photographer, get a picture of the band serenading a young blond girl and I’ll recall all the albums, rewrap them and we’ll let the good times roll,” he said.

Finding a photographer was easy since the best was Freddie Collins in Golden Meadow who did most of the wedding pictures, including mine. Next week, finding a blond, but first:

Here’s a humorous event that occurred to us returning from delivering the L.P. tape to Floyd Soileau’s a few weeks before. Doc Guidry, a commissioned agent of the Louisiana ATF Commission with authority regulating the sale of alcohol, tobacco and firearms followed us from Lafayette on our way back home. Doc was courting a pretty lady from Houma named Evelyn, they were both divorced and he was going to visit her. They later married and Mr. and Mrs. Guidry, along with Dot and I had a very interesting episode at a music festival in Plains, Georgia the year Jimmy Carter was running for President, but that’s another story.

As we left, he told us he had to make a stop and we parked behind him at a bar room in Morgan City. He entered one door, and Vin and I being thirsty (Lafayette to Morgan City is a looong way) entered another door and sat at the bar. A very upset barmaid announced, in a loud, angry voice, “I can’t serve you. You see that bald headed SOB over there?” and we looked and there stood Doc. “He’s a government agent and he just shut us down!”

We retreated to our car and Doc came out and apologetically said, “Fellas, sorry but I had a job to do. I should have told you.”

We replied, “Sure Doc, do your job, but next time make sure we have our drinks first.”

Morgan City to Houma was a loooong way off.