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Radio Daze, III - Enter Roy Vicknair

Radio Daze, III - Enter Roy Vicknair

Roy Anthony Vicknair was born in New Orleans on January 24, 1937, then moved to Houma and finally LaPlace where he died at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 of complications caused by Parkinson’s disease.

He was survived by his wife of 55 years, Linda, and daughters Ann, Judy and Diane, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

I want to acquaint you with my good friend before I tell our story.

He retired in 1999 after 40 years in radio broadcasting on KLFT AM Golden Meadow, KTIB AM Thibodaux, and KHOM FM Houma. He was a member of many civic and social organizations, and in retirement he became a videographer covering weddings and other functions.

I met Roy when he came to work at KLFT (later KLEB) in Golden Meadow in 1959 where my good friend “Cousan” Dudley Bernard was the “Voice of the Cajuns”.

Radio stations are identified by letters prefixed with “W” east of the Mississippi and west with “K”. The others are at the whim of the owners, hence WWL, Loyola University, WNOE, former Louisiana Governor Jimmy Noe, KLFT, Leo and Florence Theriot, KLEB, Little Eagle Broadcasting, KHOM, Houma and KLRZ, Larose. (More information than you wanted.)

In 1960 I negotiated a recording contract for my friend, former Columbia recording artist Vin Bruce whose major contract had been dropped in 1956 due to the exploding popularity of Rock and Roll music.

Ville Platte Jin/Swallow label owner Floyd Soileau said, “That name is still very popular in South Louisiana and I could sure sell his records. Listen, Roy Vicknair recorded Joe Barry at KLFT before I sent you to Cosimo with him and I’m a Fool to Care, so maybe he would record Vin.”

Ervin “Vin” Bruce had practically given up music and was only playing in a local club.

Roy and I had become friends and he agreed to engineer the session.

Calling in many favors I gathered musicians Harry Anselmi, Luke Charpentier, Jr. and D.J. Collins on steel, lead and rhythm guitars respectively, Mack Cheramie on drums and Ebdon Barrios on electric bass.

Harry and Mack were in the Vin Bruce trio and played at the Golden Meadow Town Club, better known as La Nige located next door to the Town Hall. Gene Rodrigue, a fellow musician and recording artist was just visiting.

We met one night at the studio located on the second floor of the State Bank building in Golden Meadow. Roy set up a large mike to pick up the fiddle, drums, electric bass, rhythm guitar and Vin’s vocal and another mike to pick up Harry’s steel and Luke’s lead guitars. Roy moved mikes and musicians around for what seems like an hour and conducted sound checks from the glassed control room.

Vin selected two songs he had written and recorded in Nashville but were never released. They were finally released in 2014 on the Columbia CD “Vin Bruce, A Cajun Legend”, which contained Vin’s entire catalog of Nashville sessions. The songs were “Le Daylasay” and “Ci Tout M’aime”, available online on Amazon and ITunes.

We did not use an accordion which in West Louisiana bands were indispensable, but we had to establish at least a fiddle for the Cajun sound. Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills had made accordions obsolete since the 1930’s. They returned to the Lafayette area with the recordings of Ira Legendre. There had also been no fiddle players in bands in our area since the Guidry Brothers and Levy Bruce (Vin’s father) in the late twenties. Gene Rodrigue came to our rescue.

“I play a little, but only for a very short break or a take-off. I can’t sustain for entire songs,” he said.

As producer/director I said, “Great Gene, that will do.”

He did and it worked. The few seconds he played established us as a Cajun band, and just about that time Roy was ready.

From the control room we heard, “OK Fellows, Vin Bruce Leu Delaysay take one.”

As Jackie Gleason often said, “And Away We Go!”

After 28 takes we had the two in the can. More next week!

Bye Now!

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