We had to record 12 Cajun numbers for a Vin Bruce vinyl LP, all songs we knew so I thought it would be a walk in the park. Wrong!
There was no fiddle player anywhere in our area capable of such a task, so Wilbur Robichaux came to mind. He once played with the Southern Playboys, a top country band from Houma in the 40’s/early 50’s, now long disbanded. (Thanks to Mrs. Patricia Coffman, widow of the band’s leader Bobby Coffman, I have pictures and information allowing me to write a very interesting column about the band’s history soon.)
Wilbur was a good fiddler who now ran a bar in Houma and since Vin and I did not need a GPS to find a bar we were off to Houma. Three old friends met again and enjoyed a nostalgic reunion. He agreed to do the session so we were off to the races, gathering the musicians and setting the date with Roy Vicknair.
We met the next evening and again Roy moved mikes and drums and musicians around and ran sound checks and finally said “Big Mamou, take 1”.
A few hours into the session we realized there were problems. Wilbur was a good fiddle player but Cajun music was not his bag, and after an all-night session, only two songs had been recorded.
We were all exhausted and called it quits at 1 a.m.
Vin and I retired to Orleans Theriot’s bar which was next door and over a drink, Vin said, “This is not going to work but I have a friend in Lafayette, bar owner, (there’s that word again), Woodly Comeaux, who is a personal friend of Doc Guidry. He’ll get Doc for us.”
I refer to bars for laughs now and then, but we didn’t drink excessively or any more than other musicians. Of course we didn’t drink any less either!
Doc Guidry, even more so than Vin, was a legendary Cajun who had played fiddle for Jimmie Davis in his two successful campaigns for Governor, a Decca recording artist on his own and a Governor-commissioned A.T.F. agent, (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm).
So I told Vin sarcastically, “Sure, and I’ll call Ernest Tubb and ask him to send us Billy Byrd, his guitar player.”
“No kidding, Woodly will do this for me,” he said.
So we pooled our quarters and he got on the phone and called his friend. Within 20 minutes he called back.
“It’s all set, when do you want him?” Woodly asked Vin.
“Sunday evening,” Vin answered. He hung up and told me with a smile DONE!
Back at the bar, Orleans poured us another drink, we toasted, and not quiet believing what had just happened, called it a night. Ahem! Morning, that is.
At home, Dot, Mike and Perry (Lisa was yet to come) were sound asleep, so I sneaked in, dropped into bed fully clothed and fell asleep.
The story continues next week, but now, here’s another humorous moment with my friend Vin. It was 1951 and his first Columbia record “Dans La Louisanne” was making waves and Fabregas Music Store in Houma called him to make a personal appearance to promote it.
It was well advertised and quiet a big crowd was there. Remember that VIN was the first South Louisiana artist to get a major label recording company contract since the 1930’s. Jimmie Davis was from North Louisiana.
Vin called, “Lee I got to make a personal appearance in Houma and I ain’t going alone, come with me.”
So I met him and off we went. There was a line buying his record and a young, pretty girl handed him her autograph book and a pen.
“What do I do?” he asked.
I realized he had never signed an autograph before so I whispered back “just sign yours truly” which he did and was handing her back her book when I interceded and said “Vin, sign your name, too.”
He just said “Oh!” and signed that one and many more that day and for years after that.
Next week, enter Doc Guidry.
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Posted on Tue, October 11, 2016
by The Lafourche Gazette