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Picnic in the park and W.S.M.

Picnic in the park and W.S.M.

A fried chicken picnic in the park is as traditional in Nashville as a shrimp, crab or crawfish boil is to a Cajun, so that’s what the Martin family treated us to the Friday before we left.

That we were Catholic meant nothing to them. So we ate chicken and promised to confess to our priest back home. Years later the Church expunged all meat rap sheets.

FYI: As Catholic we were suspicious of the “Texians” migrating here during the oil boom because they were Protestants. When we learned that we all worshipped the same God, we unselfishly shared him and lived happily ever after.

Being Catholic meant no meat on Fridays, which was especially hard to us who lived on the bays and bayous of Louisiana. It limited our meals that day to fish: Redfish, flounder, bass, catfish, trout, drum and thousands more.

Oysters: We could eat them raw, broiled, in soup, stew, gumbo, and jambalaya or a la Rockefeller. Crabs and crawfish: ditto, except not raw; and shrimp, which could be cooked in about 100 dishes, as enumerated by Bubba to Forrest in “Forrest Gump”. You can readily see how we barely survived to Saturday. Surrrrrrrrrre!

Richland Park in Nashville is a beautiful park with trees and lagoons. We had a great meal and a good time was had by all, but I won’t tell who participated in a potato sack race with the Martin kids.

That night we went to Printers’ Alley to watch young Marty Robbins, Troy Martin and Peer Music’s latest protégé at the only club in Nashville that featured country music. They still denied the industry that was to make the city rich and famous.

Saturday at 5 p.m., Troy Martin and I headed out to hear Troy’s boss Ralph Peer speak at the B.M.I. conference and my interview with a young Ralph Emery at W.S.M.

Dudley, Raleigh and Ferin were to meet us at the Ernest Tubb Record shop for my performance on the Midnight Jamboree.

I’ll write about the B.M.I. conference and my experiences with Ralph Peer next week, but the radio interview was interesting. Troy wanted Ralph to interview me about my career, my association with Peer Publishing and possible career with Decca. It didn’t turn out quiet that way.

South Lafourche’s own Vin Bruce had made history over a year ago by being the first artist to record a Cajun song with Nashville musicians on a major label.

Vin’s first Columbia record had made him a star in South Louisiana and he had recently bought a bus to start touring the nation. His success was phenomenal. Vin, at only 18, was appearing on the Grand Ole Opry, the Louisiana Hayride, and the only T.V. station in New Orleans, W.D.S.U., on the “Zeke Clement Show.”

Saturday night in Nashville, W.S.M.’s Ralph Emery seemed fascinated talking to a Cajun and surprised that I looked like ordinary people and even wore store bought clothes. His questions were about Vin Bruce. Did he really live in the swamp and trapped fur animals, which was a little demeaning, but he praised his voice.

“He sounds a lot like a Cajun Jim Reeves,” he said.

Emery even had me translate the words to “Dans La Louisianne”, while Troy was trying to steer the interview my way, which Emery ignored. I was happy to talk about my friend and being Vin was also Troy’s client the interview was useful, but it left the audience with little information about me, which had been the purpose for us being there.

Ralph Emery mentioned my name in his introduction and maybe one more time before it was over.

Vin and I had many a good laugh about this, saying to me, “I’m glad I sent you to Nashville because Troy told me you really publicized me.”

In 1962, Vin and I teamed up and our association lasted 25 years, until I retired from music and became the elected Lafourche Parish Assessor for 17 years. He is today my dearest friend.

Next week I’ll write about the most fascinating man I met in all my years in the music business.
Bye now!

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