Southwest Louisiana Musicians Encyclopedia
The SWLA Musicians Encyclopedia is a compendium of narrative and descriptive essays about the people and places relating to music and musicians of SWLA. For the purposes of this encyclopedia, the definition of a “Southwest Louisiana Musician” remains a fluid and slippery endeavor. As a general rule, “Southwest Louisiana” means “Imperial Calcasieu,” the region now made up of Calcasieu, Cameron, Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis parishes. To be sure, a musician born within the boundaries of these parishes falls under the category of “Southwest Louisiana Musician.” However, after that criterion, the definition becomes less definite. Other musicians not fortunate enough to be born on Imperial Calcasieu soil, but who lived, worked, or performed extensively in this area are included. The Encyclopedia also includes bands, civic organizations, educators, and companies associated with Southwest Louisiana music.
The Encyclopedia is planned as a cumulative and ongoing research and writing project. For more information, please see the sources page. Please contact the editor with submissions, errors, or broken links.
Abshire, Leo P., Sr. Leo Abshire was born on July 3, 1927. He plays the fiddle, guitar, and accordion. Abshire has played with Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys, Joe Simon and the Louisiana Cajuns, August Broussard and the Calcasieu Ramblers, John Oliver and the Louisiana Ramblers, Milton Adams and the Midnight Ramblers, Horace Trahan, D.L. Menard and the Louisiana Aces, the Ole Tymers Cajun Band, and Doug Kershaw. In 1998, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Abshire into its Hall of Fame.
Abshire, Nathan. Nathan Abshire was born on June 27, 1915 near Gueydan, Louisiana. Abshire began playing the accordion at a young age and in 1935 began recording for the RCA Bluebird Company. Abshire served in the Army during World War II, then began traveling with the Balfa Brothers around the country. Abshire played with Ernest Thibodeaux, Will Kegley, Jimmy Baker, the Balfa Brothers, Bubba Guillory, Raymond and Harry LaFleur, Robert Bertrand, Eunice Dartez, Martin "Bull" Leger, Alfred Cormier, Tee Bruce Broussard, Johnny Comeaux, and Atlas Fruge. Abshire died on May 13, 1981 in Basile, Louisiana. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Abshire into its Hall of Fame.
Abshire, Ray. Ray Abshire was born on April 17, 1951 near Gueydan, Louisiana and began playing professionally at age 15. Abshire was an accordionist with the Balfa Brothers from 1969 through 1975 and also performed with Lionel Leleux, Will Kegley, and Robert Bertrand. Ray Abshire continues the legacy of his cousins, Nathan and Leo Abshire, with an active performing and recording schedule. For more information, see his website: www.rayabshire.com .
Lil' Alfred [See Alfred Babino].
Allums, Kathleen. Allums, a music professor, was a member of the first faculty of Lake Charles Junior College when it began in 1939. Allums received her bachelor's degree at Northwestern State College and her master’s degree at Louisiana State University. She studied music in Mexico City, Rochester, New York City, and Paris. She was the pianist for the Messiah Chorus beginning in 1940. In 1946, Allums was a charter member of the Alpha Gamma chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society, an organization for women educators. Allums received the McNeese Alumni President’s Cup in 1968 and retired from McNeese in 1979.
Andrepont, Francis. Andrepont is a fiddler from Iota, Louisiana. Andrepont has performed with Joe Bonsall, Geno Thibodeaux, Phil Menard, August Broussard, and Lesa Cormier. Andrepont is a member of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame.
Babino, Alfred ["Lil' Alfred"]. Babino was an R&B and swamp pop singer born in Lake Charles on January 5, 1944. Babino's cousin, Simon Lubin, a drummer who founded the Boogie Ramblers and who later played with Cookie and the Cupcakes, inspired Babino to begin singing. At the age of sixteen and still in school Babino began playing tenor sax with Joe Weldon and the Whirlwinds. George Khoury discovered Babino when the band performed during a show at the National Guard Armory. The show included Phil Phillips and Mickey Gilley, who also recorded with Khoury. Jim Eckwith, an Oklahoma City DJ who arranged the extravaganza, first dubbed Alfred as "Little" because he performed a few Little Richard covers during a set that night.
In 1960, Khoury recorded Babino singing "Walking Down The Aisle" at the Longhorn in Houston. The Berry Cups, a horn band formerly led by Terry Clinton, Cookie's younger brother, backed him up. The song was an immediate hit in the South Louisiana/East Texas area and the fledgling Paula and Jewel Records of Shreveport soon picked it up for national distribution. During Babino's five-year contract with Khoury, he recorded and released several singles, including "The Mashed Potatoes Back Again" in 1962 and Chuck Willis' "Charged With Cheating" in 1963.
Babino used Cookie and the Cupcakes as back-up in the studio. In 1964, Babino took Huey Thierry's place as lead vocalist for Cookie & The Cupcakes. Later, he sang with the Boogie Kings and performed throughout the United States. In the 1980s, Babino began performing in local clubs with Charles Mann and eventually toured in England and Holland. In 1997, Babino released his final album, Dealing with the Feeling. Babino died November 14, 2006 at the age of 62. For more information about Babino, see: http://www.bluesartstudio.com/NeueSeiten/2007AlfredBabino.html.
Bad Weather Records. Bad Weather Records, of Kinder, Louisiana, takes as its motto, “the weather might be bad, but the music is great.” Some of the label’s artists include Brad Randell and the Zydeco Ballers, Rooster and the Zydeco Runners, Mark St. Mary, and Pee Wee and the Zydeco Boll Weevils.
Mike Lachney started Bad Weather as a full-service recording studio, production company, and record label in order to better promote Cajun and Zydeco artists. Lachney has produced many recordings for the Maison de Soul label and others, with artists including Donna Angelle, Rosie Ledet, Morris Ledet, JoJo Reed, John Delafose, J. Paul Jr., Willis Prudhomme, Li'l Malcolm, Percy Walker, and Kojack and the Zydeco Warriors. Lachney began his career in 1969 with Goldband Records as a promoter and salesman.
In 1973, Lachney left Goldband to form Bad Weather Productions. His first work there included forming the band Bad Weather, who had their first hit in 1975: “You Really Got A Hold On Me/I Never, Never, Knew." The band later changed its name to Rare Function. In 1977, Lachney produced the "Bad Weather Disco Show," a showcase for Louisiana artists playing all types of music. Then in 1980, Lachney produced his next big hit, the Cajun version of the tune, "They All Asked for You."
From 1981 to 1982, Lachney hosted a Louisiana music show on the KREH radio station in Oakdale, Louisiana. In 1984, Lachney recorded a disco rap record backed with a Slim Harpo hit, "Raining in My Heart." Lachney would go on to record "I Caught Joe Pete Messing With My Toot Toot" in 1985, and appear on Showtime with John Fogerty. Lachney also recorded the debut album of Zydeco artist Rosie Ledet.
Baker, Lee, Jr. [“Guitar Jr.” “Lonnie Brooks”]. Baker was born December 18, 1933 in Dubuisson, Louisiana. As a young man Baker played banjo and guitar while living in Port Arthur, Texas. Baker occasionally performed with Clifton Chenier. In 1957 Baker recorded the swamp-pop ballad "Family Rules" for Goldband Records. Baker also recorded the rocking dance number "The Crawl" (later covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds).
Ball, Marcia. Ball sings popular blues and plays piano. Ball was born in Orange, Texas in 1949 and grew up in Vinton, Louisiana. She began playing the piano at age five. Her earliest influences include Tin Pan Alley and Irma Thomas. In 1966, she attended Louisiana State University where she played in a bluesy rock band called Gum. After graduating in 1970, Ball set out for San Francisco, but her car broke down in Austin, Texas. While waiting for repairs, Ball found that she loved the city so much that she decided to stay. She began performing in the city’s clubs with a country band called Freda and the Firedogs. She also began to improve her songwriting skills. About this time, she became increasingly interested in and influenced by New Orleans piano players, especially Professor Longhair. In 1974, she began her solo career signing with Capitol Records. In 1998, she received the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year for Best Blues Instrumentalist-Keyboards. After she joined Alligator Records in 2001, she released the album Presumed Innocent, which won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Best Blues Album of the Year.
Bamboo Club. The Bamboo Club was located on Ryan Street near Court Street in the 1950s. Later, the club moved to Highway 14. The annual Contraband Days festival was first held at the Bamboo Club, but later moved to the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Baptiste, John Phillip ["Phil Phillips"]. John Phillip Baptiste was born on March 14, 1931 in Lake Charles. Baptiste was a member of the Gateway Quartet and worked as a bellhop. Eddie Shuler arranged and produced his song, "Sea of Love" for neighbor George Khoury's label. The record sold heavily and Shuler leased it to Mercury Records. "Sea of Love" went to number 2 on the U.S. pop charts and spent 14 weeks in the top 40. It sold over two million copies in 1957. Del Shannon  and the Honeydrippers  recorded covers of the song. In 1985, Eddie Shuler received the Broadcast Music, Inc. award for "Sea of Love."
Barro [See Joseph Boudreaux].
Bayeaux. Bayeaux is a band from the Oberlin area who first performed during the 2000 Oberlin Mardi Gras. A month or so later, the group recorded their first CD, C'est Cheaux, released by Bad Weather Records. The group's main vocalist is Blackie Ryder, who was previously a member of the group Cajun Sunrise. Bernie Alan is the accordionist and the other vocalist. Drummer Dino Predico used to play in rock bands and bass guitar player Conrad Trombatore is a New Orleans native. Bayeaux records in both French and English. Alan writes the music and Ryder composes the Cajun lyrics.
Beau Jocque [See Andrus Espre].
Benoit, Valmont J., Jr. ["Junior" Benoit]. Benoit was born on April 25, 1930 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Benoit plays the steel guitar, fiddle, rhythm guitar, and accordion. Benoit has played with Lawrence Walker and the Wandering Aces, Doris Matte, Walter Melancon, Dallas Cooley, Ray Thibodeaux, "Butch" Ogea, Mitchell Davy, Houston Fruge, Sr., Eddie Benoit, and Leroy Benoit. In 1999, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Benoit into its Hall of Fame.
Bergeron, Paul N. Bergeron was a native of Ritchie, Louisiana and a longtime resident of Lake Charles who played steel guitar with Phil Menard and the Louisiana Travelers for more than 32 years. Bergeron died August 5, 2001 at age 63.
Bertrand, Robert. Bertrand was born on July 27, 1938. Bertrand was a drummer in Iry LeJeune's band and also played fiddle and sang lead vocals. Bertrand was bandleader of both the Louisiana Ramblers and the Lake Charles Playboys. Bertrand made a number of recordings, including vocal duets, with Jo-El Sonnier for Goldband Records. Bertrand also sang and played with Nathan Abshire, Carroll Broussard, Ronnie Anderson, Wilson Granger, Alfred "Duckhead" Cormier, Ray Abshire, Joe Bonsall, Tony Thibodeaux, Johnny Comeaux, Ed Gary, Hilrae Mott, Phil Menard, Bobby Leger, "Blackie" Forestier, "Geno" Thibodeaux, and Sidney Brown. Bertrand died on February 9, 1974. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Bertrand into its Hall of Fame.
Big Oaks Club. See the Oaks.
Blue Moon [Club]. The Blue Moon was a club in Lake Charles located across from the Green Frog on the corner of Broad Street and Highway 14.
Bonsall, Joe. Bonsall was born in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. Bonsall’s mother taught him to play the accordion at the age of nine. Later, Bonsall learned to play the violin and the guitar. Bonsall moved to Orange County, Texas at an early age. As a young man, Bonsall formed the Orange Playboys Band. Bonsall presently plays with the band known as Joe Simon, Joe Bonsall, and the Louisiana Cajuns. Bonsall married Mabel Duhon in 1941 and moved to Mabel’s home town of Vinton, Louisiana. Bonsall served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was wounded on three separate occasions during combat in Pacific Theater. In 1977, Bonsall underwent heart surgery but soon returned to playing live music. Bonsall has played more than 600 benefit dances to raise money for needy people and has recorded dozens of records. Bonsall teaches accordion and several of his students have gone on to play Cajun music professionally. He helped start the the Lakeshore Hall of Fame for Cajun music in which he was inducted along with the group of other pioneers of Cajun music. After the closure of that chapter, Bonsall began the Hall of Fame for the Lake Charles chapter in which all members of Lakeshore were inducted on May 5, 1990. In 1991, Bonsall handed over the operation of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame to Phil Menard and Della Mott.
Boogie Kings. The Boogie Kings were an R&B band founded in the late 1950s by Doug Ardoin in Eunice, Louisiana. Over the years, many Louisiana musicians served an apprenticeship in this huge band. Sometimes membership swelled to as many as a dozen players. Some of the great musicians associated with the Boogie Kings include drummers Bert Miller and Clint West; vocalists G.G. Shinn, Jerry "Count" Jackson, and Gary Walker; bassist Tommy McLain; and the redoubtable tenor saxophonist, Jon Smith. Leader and longtime horn player Ned Theall traces the history of the band in his 1993 book, Living Like A King.
The Boogie Ramblers [See Cookie and the Cupcakes].
Bourque, Brad. Bourque is a Cajun/country singer/songwriter. Bourque grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana and graduated from LaGrange High School in 1971. As a teenager, he sang background vocals for a group called David & the Blue Diamonds at the College Oaks Recreation Center. In the 1970s, he played in local restaurants and clubs before moving to Houston to work in the gas industry. He decided he wanted to pursue a career in music and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2000. He worked as a salesman to give him an opportunity to visit studios and meet musicians. He released his debut album, Redman’s Land, in 2005 as an independent release on his own record label, Ishak Records. The album includes Swamp Pop, Cajun, Pop, and Country.
Breaux, Lyon "Bebe." Breaux was born around 1915 near Jennings, Louisiana. In the 1930s he played the accordion at house dances and church halls around Southwest Louisiana. In 1993, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Breaux into its Hall of Fame.
Brooks, Lonnie [see Lee Baker, Jr.].
Broussard, August. Broussard was born on August 3, 1946 in Westlake, Louisiana. Broussard plays the accordion, guitar, steel guitar, harmonica, and fiddle. Broussard has played with John Oliver's Louisiana Ramblers, Bobby Leger's Lake Charles Playboys, Milford Simon's Hicks Wagon Wheel Ramblers, and Lesa Cormier and the Sundown Playboys. In 1995, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Broussard into its Hall of Fame.
Broussard, Tim. Broussard is the accordionist for Bayou Roots. His younger brother, Marty is one of the most respected steel guitar players in Cajun music history. Tim and Marty, along with three others, formed a band when Tim was fourteen years old. The band played juke-joints across Texas and Louisiana. Tim and Marty’s father balanced shuttling the boys to gigs, working full time, and raising six kids. As Tim grew up, he continued to play the accordion and bass while working his own dump truck. In 1987, country star Mark Chesnutt asked Tim to join him on tour, playing bass and accordion. Tim played his "dual-pitched melodeon" built by Randy Falcon.
Brown, Clarence “Gatemouth”. Brown is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays Jazz, Blues, Country, Swing, Cajun, and R&B. Brown was born in Vinton, Louisiana and raised in Orange, Texas. He learned to play the guitar and fiddle from his father who played traditional French tunes and German polkas. He began work as a professional drummer in the early 1940s. In 1947, at Don Robey’s Peacock Club in Houston, Brown walked on stage and picked up T-Bone Walker’s electric guitar and wowed the audience with his “Gatemouth Boogie.” Robey then formed the black-owned Peacock Records to bring Brown’s music to a national audience. Many hits followed including "Okie Dokie Stomp," "Boogie Rambler," and "Dirty Work at the Crossroads." Brown split with Robey and moved to Nashville where he hosted a television show and broadened his musical scope to include country music. In the 1970s, he toured in Europe, East Africa, and the Soviet Union as a musical ambassador for the United States Department of State. In 1982, his album entitled Alright Again! won him the first Grammy Award presented in the Traditional Blues category. He has been inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame, is a multiple recipient of the W.C. Handy Awards, and is a past winner of the Entertainer of the Year Award from the Blues Foundation. He has also received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award. In 2005, he was awarded the Governor’s Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
Brown, Sidney. Brown was born in Church Point, Louisiana in 1906 and began playing the accordion as a child. Brown formed the Traveler Playboys after moving from Church Point to Lake Charles. The band began recording with Goldband Records in the mid 1950s. Brown's Pistache A Tante Nana eventually became the third best-selling Cajun music album. After World War II, high-quality German accordions were no longer available in the U.S. Brown began experimenting with accordion making and began producing high-quality, hand-made instruments. In 1963 Brown ceased performing live, but spent the remaining years of his life building and repairing accordions. He died on August 6, 1981. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Brown into its Hall of Fame.
Bulber, Francis Gerard [1909-1992]. Bulber joined the John McNeese Junior College faculty in the fall of 1940. Before coming to McNeese, Bulber taught music at Louisiana State University. Bulber received the McNeese Alumni President’s Cup in 1959. During Bulber's career at McNeese, he served as Head of the Music Department, the Dean of Fine Arts, and the Academic Dean of the University. Bulber started the long-running tradition of performing Handel’s Messiah at McNeese every December. In 1954, Bulber received the McNeese Award for Cultural Leadership. He received the Alumni President’s Cup in 1959. Upon his retirement in 1974, he was awarded Dean Emeritus. Bulber's academic career began at the Sacred Heart High School in Biloxi, Mississippi. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Louisiana State University. He did post-graduate work at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and received his doctorate in Music Education from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. Bulber founded the Lake Charles Civic Symphony and the Lake Charles Messiah Chorus. He taught at Pearl River Junior College before coming to McNeese. He died on June 24, 1992 at the age of 83. In 1992, McNeese renamed the McNeese Auditorium the Francis G. Bulber Auditorium.
Charlie, Fred. Charlie is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist and hosts a radio show in Eunice, Louisiana. Charlie is a member of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame and won the Association's Heritage Award for his song, "Cajun American."
Melinda. Chatman was born in Los Angeles,
California, but her family soon moved to Lake Charles. She
was baptized at the Greater Live Oak Church when she was
five years old and sang in the choir. She attended W.O.
Boston High School, Southern University, and McNeese State
University. When she graduated from W.O. Boston High School,
her class prophecy was that she would sing with Aretha
Franklin. That hasn't happened yet, but she hopes to
As a young adult Chatman moved back to
Los Angeles, working in a bank located in the same building
as the offices of Motown Studios. Around 1978, Motown hired
her to manage artist contracts. She later worked for Dick
Clark Productions and for Carnival Cruise Lines as "fly-in"
Chatman’s television credits include work on the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards, and the Soul Train Awards. In 1980, she recorded "Jesus is Love" with the Commodores and first joined AFTRA. She has enjoyed a varied career of singing with Lionel Richie, Gladys Knight, Al Green, The Commodores, Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, Andrae & Sandra Crouch, MC Hammer, Brian McKnight and many more. Chatman was a replacement member of the Shirelles and the Marvelettes.
Chavis, Charles. Chavis was the son of Zydeco star Boozoo Chavis and played rubboard in Boozoo's "Magic Sounds" band. Charles Chavis died on December 23, 2001 at age 45, seven months after his father passed away.
Chavis, Wilson "Boozoo". Chavis was a Zydeco musician born in 1930 near Church Point. He was raised in Lake Charles where he and his family were tenant farmers. As a small child, he watched his father play the accordion at house dances. Chavis himself learned to play the accordion as a young boy. He played at dances while working as a horse trainer. He recorded Zydeco’s first hit song “Paper in My Shoe,” in 1954. He played at clubs in the region but eventually gave up on music and went back to horse training. More than 20 years later, when Zydeco was experiencing a newfound popularity nationwide, his wife urged him to take up music again. He resumed performing in 1984 and was well-received by fans. Boozoo was chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts to receive a 2001 National Heritage Fellowship. This is the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Two days after performing at the first annual Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage week, he suffered a heart attack. While hospitalized, he suffered a stroke and died on May 5, 2001. The National Heritage Fellowship was awarded posthumously.
Chenier, Clifton ["King of Zydeco"]. Chenier was born June 25, 1925 in Opelousas, Louisiana. Chenier was the first Creole artist to win a Grammy award on national television. Chenier created Zydeco by blending the Cajun two-steps and waltzes of Southwest Louisiana with New Orleans R&B, Texas blues, and Big Band Jazz. Chenier’s father, Joe, was a sharecropper and amateur accordion player. Chenier’s uncle, Morris "Big" Chenier, played the guitar and the fiddle and owned a dance club. Chenier’s earliest influences include Muddy Waters, Peetie Wheatstraw, and Lightnin' Hopkins; Fats Domino and Professor Longhair; the 1920s and 1930s Zydeco accordionist Amede Ardoin; and childhood friends Claude Faulk and Jesse and Zozo Reynolds. In 1947 Chenier acquired his first accordion and his father taught him the basics of playing the instrument. Chenier began performing with his brother, Cleveland, on frottoir in the dance halls of Lake Charles.
As a young man, Chenier worked in the sugar cane fields of New Iberia. In 1947, Chenier moved to Port Arthur, Texas to drive an oil refinery truck. In 1954, Chenier signed with Elko Records. His first recording session, at Lake Charles radio station KAOK, yielded seven tunes including the regional hit single, "Cliston's Blues" and "Louisiana Stomp." In 1956, Chenier quit his day job to become a full-time musician as the leader of the Zydeco Ramblers, which included blues guitarist Philip Walker. Throughout the late 1950s, Chenier toured with Etta James and recorded regional material with minor success. The turning point in Chenier's career came when he met Chris Strachwitz, owner of the roots music label, Arhoolie. Strachwitz signed Chenier to Arhoolie, and produced his first single, "Ay Yi Yi"/"Why Did You Go Last Night." Chenier and Strachwitz held differing artistic views. Chenier wanted to record R&B, which was more successful commercially. Strachwitz encouraged Chenier to focus on traditional zydeco. They compromised on Chenier's first album for Arhoolie, “Louisiana Blues and Zydeco,” which featured one side of R&B and one side of French two-steps and waltzes.
In 1976, Chenier recorded one of his best albums, Bogalusa Boogie, and formed a new group, the Red Hot Louisiana Band, featuring tenor saxophonist "Blind" John Hart and guitarist Paul Senegal. Chenier reached the peak of his popularity in the 1980s. In 1983, Chenier received a Grammy award for his album, I'm Here!, recorded in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Although Chenier suffered from kidney disease and required regular dialysis treatment, Chenier continued to perform until one week before his death on December 12, 1987. Chenier was buried in All Souls Cemetery in Loreauville, Iberville Parish, Louisiana. Following his death, his son, C.J. Chenier, took over leadership of the Red Hot Louisiana Band.
Chenier, Morris "Big." Chenier was born in 1929 in Opelousas, Louisiana but later moved to Lake Charles. Chenier plays the guitar and the violin. In the late 1950s, he toured both as a solo artist and backing up his nephew, Clifton Chenier. In 1957, Big Chenier recorded several blues tracks for Goldband Records, including "Let Me Hold Your Hand" and "Please Try to Realize." Despite Eddie Shuler's attempt to get Chenier back into the recording studio, he was content to tour occasionally and hold dances at the Chenier Barbecue and Smoke House, a restaurant he owned on Enterprise Boulevard in Lake Charles.
Choates, Harry ("King of Cajun Swing Fiddle"). Choates was born on Cow Island, Louisiana and grew up in Port Arthur, Texas. Choates played with Happy Fats & the Rayne-Bo Ramblers and is a member of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame. Choates died in 1951 in Austin, Texas. He is most known for his recording of "Jolie Blon" in 1946 which reached the Billboard charts at number four. It has been said that this song was an all time favorite of Western Louisiana fiddlers in the 20th century.
Clement, Terry. Playing the accordion with his brothers, together they organized their first band in 1949. The "Clement Brothers" Cajun music influences came from their father and Nathan Abshire. In 1952, the song "Diggy Liggy Lo" was produced and played throughout the south.
Comeaux, Carl. Comeaux was born on January 6, 1944 in Iota, Louisiana. Comeaux plays the rhythm guitar and bass and has played with Joe Bonsall, "Blackie" Forestier, Phil Menard, Andrew Cormier, Leroy Broussard, Aldus Roger, Sheryl cormier, Johnny Sonnier, Darrell Higginbotham, and "Geno" Thibodeaux. Comeaux's recordings include "Waltzing with a Broken Heart" and "The Bottle." In 2002, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Comeaux into its Hall of Fame.
Cookie and the Cupcakes. Cookie and the Cupcakes were a Swamp Pop band in south Louisiana. Their hit record "Mathilda" rose to number 47 on the Billboard chart in 1959. Bandleader Cookie [Hugh Thierry] was born in Roanoke, Louisiana. He shared lead vocals and tenor sax with Lake Charles' Shelton Dunaway. Other band members were Sidney "Hot Rod" Reynaud, Marshall Laday, Ernest Jacobs, Joe "Blue" Landry and Ivory Jackson. The group recorded "Cindy Lou" and "Such As Love" for Goldband Records in 1955 under the name "The Boogie Ramblers." The band changed their name to "Cookie and the Cupcakes," and recorded several other swamp pop classics, including "Belinda," "Betty and Dupree," and "Got You on My Mind." In the mid-1960s, Cookie moved to California and the rest of the band dispersed in the early 1970s.
Cormier, Alfred P. "Duckhead." Cormier was born on May 7, 1931 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cormier was a Cajun guitarist who played with Iry LeJeune, Aldus Thibodeaux, Earl Demary, Cless Credeur, Harvey Young, Deama Granger, Nathan Abshire, Will Kegley, J. B. Fuselier, Lawrence Walker, Doris Matte, Andrew Cormier, Sidney Brown, Nelson Young, Bobby Leger, Leroy Broussard, Aldus Roger, Mark Savoy, "Geno" Thibodeaux, Joe Bonsall, Phil Menard, Tony Thibodeaux, "Man" Abshire, Rufus Thibodeaux, Doc Guidry, and Jo-El Sonnier. In 1991, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Cormier into its Hall of Fame. Cormier died September 24, 1999 at age 68.
Cormier, Daniel Joseph. Cormier was born on June 22, 1954 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cormier began playing bass with the Sundown Playboys as a teenager. His father is Lesa Cormier and his grandfather is Lionel Cormier. Cormier also plays the steel guitar, the dobro, the guitar, the bass, and the fiddle. Cormier has played with Joe Simon, Jackie Caillier, Ronnie Miller, Ray Pitre, Aldus Roger, Belton Richard, Phil Menard, Joe Bonsall, and Sonny O'Quain. In 1995, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Cormier into its Hall of Fame.
Cormier, Lesa. Cormier was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on August 30, 1930 and was raised in Elton, Louisiana. He learned to play accordion from his father, Lionel Cormier, and also played the guitar. In 1945, Lionel formed a band known as the Sundown Playboys. In 1947, Lionel discovered he was in need of a drummer for a show a week later. Lesa learned to play drums in a week and began playing with the band. When Lionel died in June 1971, Lesa began to manage the band.
Today, Lesa Cormier is the only member of the original Sundown Playboys still with the group. Lesa Cormier sings some of the vocals, with Milford Simon on accordion, Frances Andrepont on fiddle, Larry Miller on steel guitar and vocals, and Brian Cormier, Lesa Cormier's grandson, on bass. Lesa Cormier was among the original 1997 inductees into the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame.
Cormier, Lionel. Cormier was born in Rayne, Louisiana on February 26, 1913. Cormier learned to play the accordion from his father, Arvilian Cormier, at age 12. The Cormier family lived near Bosco, Louisiana, about 100 miles east of Lake Charles. Cormier married Lizzie Bass on September 21, 1929. The couple moved to Gueydan to work in the rice fields and later to Eunice to work at the sawmill. In 1935, Cormier and his family settled in Elton, Louisiana. He worked at the large sawmill and continued playing his accordion non-professionally. In 1947, Cormier joined the Elton Playboys, later renamed the Sundown Playboys. Cormier cut his first record in 1952, "Sundown Playboy Special" and "Welcome Club Waltz." Cormier also recorded "Big boy Bounce," "Louisiana Gumbo," "Cypress Inn Special," "Last Year’s Waltz," "Waltz of My Heart," "Black Bayou Special," and "Riceville Special." Cormier died of a heart attack on the bandstand at the Bamboo Club in Lake Charles, Louisiana on June 5, 1971, while playing a Cajun Day benefit dance. Lionel’s son, Lesa Cormier, now leads the Sundown Playboys. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Cormier into its Hall of Fame.
Count Rockin' Sidney [See Sidney Simien].
Crochet, Cleveland. Crochet was born on January 30, 1919 in Hathaway, Louisiana. Crochet played fiddle for Cleveland Crochet and the Hillbilly Ramblers, sometimes known as Cleveland Crochet and the Sugar Bees. The original members of the band in 1950 were Crochet, Charlie Babineaux, Tilford McClelland, Sidney Brown, and Eddie Benoit. In early 1961, the band’s record “Sugar Bee” became the first Cajun record to break the Billboard’s Top 100, peaking at number 80. Later, band members included Leroy Broussard, Elce Broussard, Edison "Red" Lopez, Newton "Red" Saltzman, John Crochet, Verris "Shorty" LeBlanc, Cliff Newman, Jessie Stutes, "Pee Wee" Broussard, Robert Thibodeaux, Rufus Thibodeaux, Jo-El Sonnier, and Eugene Thibodeaux. Crochet currently resides in Iowa, Louisiana. In 1998, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Crochet into its Hall of Fame.
Crochet, John. Crochet was born on Pine Island, Louisiana, the son of Clenny Crochet and the nephew of Cleveland Crochet. He recorded with Cleveland Crochet & the Hillbilly Ramblers, Sydney Brown, Red Lopez, and Jesse Stutes. John Crochet plays the fiddle, guitar, and drums and formed two country bands, Hard Country and Midnight Express.
Croker, James "Glen." Croker (1934-2011) was a lifelong resident of Lake Charles and a graduate of LaGrange High School and served the United States Army. Croker played lead and steel guitar and was lead vocalist of the Hackberry Ramblers.
Daigle, Wilbert. Daigle was born on April 27, 1936 in Pointe Noir, Louisiana. Daigle played the fiddle with Austin Pitre and the Evangeline Playboys, Hilbert Dies, Lurlin LeJeune, Robert Elkins, Leroy Leger, Steven LeJeune, "Bee" Cormier, Wilford Labbie, Human Briscoe, Wavely LeJeune, and Darrell Higginbotham. In 1964, Daigle and August Broussard formed the Calcasieu Ramblers with Garland Hebert on steel guitar, Melvin Thibodeaux on drums, and Clayton Suire on rhythm guitar. Daigle performed regularly at Manuel's Bar on Kirkman Street in Lake Charles and at Lloyd's Lounge. In the 1990s, Daigle played with John Oliver and the Louisiana Ramblers, which included John Oliver on accordion, Elton LeJeune on the drums, Bonnie Thibodeaux on the steel guitar, and Chuck Monceaux on the rhythm guitar. In 1997, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Daigle into its Hall of Fame.
Darbone, Luderin. Darbone is a Cajun fiddler with the Hackberry Ramblers. Darbone, whose father was an oil field worker and Cajun accordion player, was born on January 14, 1913 in Evangeline, Louisiana. He began playing the fiddle when he was 12 through a correspondence course his mother ordered. Darbone learned both hillbilly and French-Canadian tunes. He attended Vincent Business College for two years. Since work was scarce during the Depression, Darbone began playing music in dance halls with friend accordionist Edwin Duhon. Together they formed the Hackberry Ramblers in 1933. In 2001, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Darbone into its Hall of Fame. In 2002, Duhon and Darbone received National Heritage Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
Dawsey, Johnny W. Dawsey was born on July 23, 1912 in Winsboro, La. Dawsey learned to play the fiddle at a young age and played as a hobby throughout his life. After retiring from a job in automobile maintenance, Dawsey began creating violins at his home in Lake Charles, La. Dawsey died on December 22, 1975.
DeRouen, Terry Gene ["Gene Terry"]. DeRouen was born on January 7, 1940 in Lafayette, Louisiana. In 1942, his family moved to Port Arthur, Texas. DeRouen learned to play guitar from his uncle, R. C. DeRouen, and accompanied him on stage. DeRouen formed his own country and western group, the Kool Kats, in the mid-1950's. The Kool Kats began to play more rhythm and blues as DeRouen became more influenced by Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Port Arthur disc jockey J. P. "the Big Bopper" Richardson. The band changed its name to the Down Beats and began playing clubs in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Gene Terry and the Down Beats recorded several singles for Goldband Records, including the classic "Cindy Lou."
DeRouen, Wallace. DeRouen was born on May 3, 1929 in Hayes, Louisiana. DeRouen is a Cajun music guitarist and has played with Phil Menard and Joe Bonsall. DeRouen hosted a radio show on KLCL for many years. DeRouen died on January 4, 1988. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted DeRouen into its Hall of Fame.
Domingue, Garland. Domingue was born on February 28, 1933 in Pine Island, Louisiana (just north of Welsh). Domingue is the brother of Charles Mann and played on his album, Pushing Your Luck. Domingue is a Cajun music drummer with the Louisiana Ramblers and the Texas Cajun Playboys. Domingue began drumming after his military service during the Korean War. Domingue has played with Nathan Abshire, Robert Bertrand, Louis Lopez, the Balfa Brothers, Gus Corbello, Wallace DeRouen, Edwin Crochet, Bill LeJeune, Cyrus Leger, Frank Ewing, Etienne Hardy, Tim and Mary Broussard, Andrew and Nolan Cormier, Phil Menard, Ed Gary, Arthur Leger (Domingue's uncle), Hilrae Mott, and Jo-El Sonnier. In 1993, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Domingue into its Hall of Fame.
Dougay, Dale. Dougay is a drummer and percussionist for Bayou Roots and formerly for Louisiana's Kingfish. Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Dougay started drumming with local bands at the age of fourteen. In the early 1970s, Dougay began playing in a group called Southbound, which specialized in Rock, Swamp-pop and Country. In 1976, Dougay joined the acoustic bluegrass band Javelina, whose members included Dave Savario and Rob Broussard. Javelina disbanded in 1981. Again teaming with Savario, Dougay became part of The Homeboys, a Rockabilly and Blues band. The Homeboys soon became a variety dance band called The Lifters and included Chris Miller. After performing for nearly nine years, Dougay, Savario, and Miller, with the addition of Rob Broussard, formed the group Louisiana's Kingfish in 1998.
Dougay, Steve. Dougay is the guitarist for Bayou Roots. Dougay is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana who was raised on the sounds of Cajun music by the great Iry Lejeune and Bluegrass greats such as Bill Monroe and Del McCoury. Dougay began playing guitar at the age of twelve in the late 1960s and participated in band programs in junior high and high school in Westlake, Louisiana. While in middle school, Steve began to play some weekend dances at Knights of Columbus halls around town with his brother, Charles, and cousin, Dale. Around 1985, Dougay joined the Whiskey River band, which lasted about a year. In 1988, Steve formed a new band with Cousin Dale, Dave Savario, and Ray Ellender. Together they formed the "Lifters" and played classic Rock and Soul. After a couple of years, the band wanted to add an accordion and begin playing more Cajun material. Dougay recruited Chris Miller to play keyboards and accordion. The Lifters later regrouped and became "Louisiana's Kingfish." Shortly after leaving the band, Dougay met Darrell Sallee, an Ohio native, and they began playing sit-down acoustic jobs at local restaurants and coffee shops covering tunes by James Taylor, Jackson Browne, the Birds, and others. Dougay and Sallee also played a little Delta Blues, old-time Country, and Bluegrass. Later, Dougay and Chris Miller reunited to form Bayou Roots. Dougay plays a L'Arrivee acoustic guitar model LV-03, the mandolin, and also a Fender Stratocaster tuned in "open-G" for slide guitar.
Dugas, Ivy. Dugas is the bass player and co-lead vocalist of Jackie Collier and the Cajun Cousins. Dugas received the Cajun French Music Association's Best Male Vocalist of 1997, 1998, and 1999. Dugas wrote and sang two Song of the Year award winners: "The Gravel Road" in 1997 and "Little Short Pants" in 1998. Jackie Collier and the Cajun Cousins were the Band of the Year in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Dugas began playing Cajun music at age 11. In his early years he played with Phil Menard and the Louisiana Travelers. Ivy Dugas' official website: http://www.ivydugas.com/.
Duhon, Edwin. Duhon is an accordionist and fellow founder of the Hackberry Ramblers with Luderin Darbone. Duhon was born in Youngsville, Louisiana on June 11, 1910. In 1915, his parents moved the family to Vinton, Louisiana. In the early 1930s, Duhon met Darbone and they soon formed the Hackberry Ramblers, a band that would endure for over 70 years. In 1940, Duhon and his wife settled in Westlake, Louisiana. Duhon supported himself by working in the oil fields and later worked on the Panama Canal and in Venezuela. In his later years, Duhon served as Westlake's Chief of Police. Duhon has played music with Jimmy Newman, Lefty Frizzell, Bob Wills, Marsha Ball, "T-Texas" Tyler, Mike Doucet, and Moon Mullican. Duhon and the Hackberry Ramblers have performed all over the world and have won numerous awards and citations. In 2002, Duhon and Darbone received National Heritage Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Duhon gave his last performance in November 2005 in Baton Rouge and died on February 26, 2006.
Dunaway, Shelton. Dunaway shared the spotlight with Hugh Thierry playing the tenor saxophone and as a vocalist for Cookie and the Cupcakes. The band's popular single, "Mathilda", was pushed to the Billboard top fifty in 1959 with the help of Dunaway's vocals. In 1985, he made an album with Little Alfred (also a member of the Cupcakes in the 1960's). In 1995, he was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Dunaway is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Espre, Andrus ["Beau Jocque"]. Espre was a native of Kinder, Louisiana and leader of Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers. Espre, an accordionist, gained national prominence by infusing traditional zydeco with the contemporary beats of R&B, rock, and funk. Espre died September 10, 1999 at age 43.
Esthay, Voylen "T-Boy." Esthay was born on September 17, 1924. Esthay is a Cajun music fiddler and has played music with Nathan Abshire, Will Kegley and the Country Aces, Russell Green and the Bayou Boys, Wayne Hebert and the Hathaway Playboys, Blackie Forestier and the Cajun Aces, Ernest Thibodeaux, Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys, Aldes Broussard, Milford Simon, Blackie Fruge, Lionel Cormier and the Sundown Playboys, Aldus Roger, and many others. Esthay died September 16, 1989. In 1991, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Esthay into its Hall of Fame.
Faul, Mervin. Faul was born on September 21, 1932 in Iota, Louisiana. Faul is a Cajun music steel guitarist and has played music with Cleveland Crochet, Robert Bertrand and the Louisiana Ramblers, Phil Menard and the Louisiana Travelers, Joe Simon and the Louisiana Cajuns, Sidney Brown, and many others. In 1997, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Faul into its Hall of Fame.
Faulk, Johnny. Faulk was a bass player with the Hackberry Ramblers since 1979. Faulk died on October 17, 2004 in Lake Charles at the age of 79.
Fontenot, Cursey. Fontenot was born ca. 1920 in Oberlin, Louisiana. Fontenot was a founder of the Louisiana Travelers and the Calcasieu Playboys bands. Fontenot is a Cajun music fiddler and has played music with Phil Menard, Leroy Crochet, Leroy Leger, Iry LeJeune, Lionel Cormier, Jo-El Sonnier, and many others. In 1997, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Fontenot into its Hall of Fame.
Forestier, Austin J. "T-Brud." Forestier was born on January 18, 1922. Forestier hosted a radio show on KLCL in the 1970s and managed many charitable and civic projects. Forestier married Merley Menard, Phil Menard's sister. "T-Brud" and "Blackie" Forestier were brothers. "T-Brud" died on January 18, 1988. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Forestier into its Hall of Fame.
Forestier, Ledel “Blackie”. The head of the Cajun dance band, the Cajun Aces. Forestier was born on October 28, 1928 in Coulee Croche [now Cankton] in St. Landry Parish. In 1930, his family moved to an area in Jefferson Davis Parish northwest of Jennings known as Pine Island. He grew up farming cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes. Forestier gained an appreciation for the accordion from his eldest brother, who never would let Blackie touch the instrument. When Forestier came out of military service in 1954, he was finally allowed to pick up the accordion for the first time. His second-eldest brother located a used accordion for sale and loaned Blackie the $125 to buy it. He earned this money at a gig in 1957 in Houston, Texas sponsored by an oil company. He named his band “Blackie Forestier and the Cajun Aces.” Blackie and his band began playing at dance halls all over South Louisiana. Their first single “Big Pine Waltz” was released in 1967. They were featured in the first Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette in 1974. Blackie and his band played every Saturday night in Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette and D.I.’s restaurant in Tee-Mamou. Some of his favorite all-time numbers include "Crying Waltz," Chère Petite," "Pistol Packin' Mama," "Big Pine Waltz," "Je Suis Seule Encore," "Anniversary Waltz," "T-George Two Step," "Cotton Fields," "Grand Chenier Waltz," and "Ossun Two-Step." In 1993, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Forestier into its Hall of Fame. Forestier died on November 19, 2001 in Lake Charles Memorial Hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Fruge, Atlas. Fruge was born on July 15, 1924 and grew up in Eunice, Louisiana. Fruge plays many instruments, but is best known as a Cajun and hillbilly music steel guitarist. Fruge has played music with Nathan Abshire, Sidney Brown, Isaac Leger, Joe Bonsall, and many others. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Fruge into its Hall of Fame.
Fruge, Lawrence "Blackie". Currently a member of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame since 2000, Blackie also was nominated for the Song of the Year, "Who Holds You Close", in 1999, and received many Certificates of Appreciation from the Heart Association. Blackie was born in Evangeline, Louisiana on September 20, 1930. Inspired by his father and uncles, he learned to play the fiddle, rhythm guitar, and drums. Recordings which he sings include "Black Bayou Special", "Don't Forget Me", "Let's Change the Years", "Father's Day Waltz", "Chere Petite Fille", and "Heart Break Two-Step". Also as a co-songwriter, he produced "Who Holds You Close". Blackie Fruge has been playing Cajun music for over 60 years.
Fuselier, Jean Batiste "J.B." Fuselier was born in 1901 in Oberlin, Louisiana. Fuselier was a Cajun music fiddler, accordionist, songwriter, and vocalist. Fuselier joined Beethoven Mill and Preston Manuel to form Miller's Merrymakers in the mid 1930s. The band recorded many songs for RCA's Bluebird label and later became known as J.B. and the Merrymakers. Fuselier was the first to record "Chere Tout-Tout," which he wrote for his daughter. He also translated "Corrina" and "Birmingham Jail" into French and recorded them. Fuselier died in 1976. In 1993, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Fuselier into its Hall of Fame.
Gatte, Johnny Ray. Gatte was a lifelong resident of Carlyss, Louisiana was a musician with the Blue Kings [1936 - 1971]. Gatte also performed with Algie Breaux & The Buckaneers, Cledus Motte & The Tune Toppers, and Larry Carrol & The Desperados. Gatte died November 17, 1999 at age 57.
Godeaux, Ophey Val. Godeaux was born on February 25, 1923 in Eunice, Louisiana. Godeaux is a Cajun music fiddler and has played music with Iry LeJeune, Joe Bonsall, Cleveland Fontenot, Alvin Meaux, and many others. In 1999, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Godeaux into its Hall of Fame.
Goldband Records. The Goldband Recording Corporation of Lake Charles, Louisiana played a key role in documenting and shaping the music of Southwest Louisiana. Goldband began in 1942 when founder Eddie Shuler moved from Texas to Lake Charles to work as a dragline operator. He found additional part-time work in a music store where he recorded music on acetate discs for store customers.
From 1943 to 1945, Shuler played with the Hackberry Ramblers. After Shuler left the Hackberry Ramblers, he opened his own music store with a $250 loan from his mother. In 1944, Shuler made his first recording, "Broken Love," to promote his band, Eddie Shuler's All-Star Revelers.
In 1946, Shuler hosted a local radio program. One day, Shuler asked Iry LeJeune, a Louisiana accordion player, to perform on the air. The station manager was not a fan of Cajun music and threatened to fire Shuler if he ever played Cajun music on his show again. However, the public enjoyed the music and Cajun business owners began buying air time during Cajun music programs. In 1949, Shuler recorded LeJeune and distributed the discs from the back of his car to local record stores and jukebox operators.
Since its inception, the Goldband Recording Company has recorded some of the South's most important and distinctive music, including Cajun, Country & Western, Rockabilly, Rock & Roll, R&B, Blues, Zydeco, Soul, and Swamp Pop. Artists who recorded at Goldband included:
Classie Ballou, Alphee Bergeron, Hobo Bertrand, Ron Bertrand, Bill & Carroll, Juke Boy Bonner, Leroy Broussard, Sidney Brown, Little Ray Campbell, Hopeless Homer (Chandler), Boozoo Chavis, Morris "Big" Chenier, Cookie and the Cupcakes, Lionel Cormier, Cleveland Crochet and the Sugar Bees, Skip Dowers, Freddie Fender, Al Ferrier, J. B. Fusilier, Clarence Garlow, Mickey Gilley, Big Daddy Green, Herman Guiee (Guidry), Larry Hart, Johnny Jano (Janot), Guitar Junior, Shorty LeBlanc, Iry LeJeune, Huey Meaux, Tal Miller, Walter Miller, Don Mooring & the Yellow Jackets, Beth Murphy, Jimmy C. Newman, Mickey Newman, the Original Soul Senders, Robert Owens, Bill Parker, Dolly Parton, Mel "Love Bug" Pellerin, Phil Phillips, Big Walter (Price), Willis Prudhomme, Chester Randle, Rockin' Sidney, Aldus Roger, Bon Ton St. Mary, Charles "Mad Dog" Sheffield, Jo'el Sonnier, Dal Sterling, Gene Terry, Good Rockin' Bob (Ed Thomas), Linus Touchet, Roy Vict (Victorian), Katie Webster, Clifton White, Harding "Hop" Wilson, and Jimmy Wilson.
In 1959 George Khoury sought out Shuler's help in recording local artist Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love." The song was an instant hit nationwide. Shuler sold half the publishing rights to Mercury Records and continued to receive income from the song throughout his life.
In 1960, Dolly Parton was a 13-year-old amateur singer from Locust Ridge, Tennessee. Parton's uncle, Henry Owens, was stationed at the Lake Charles Air Force Base (later known as Chennault AFB). Owens lived close to the Goldband studio and made friends with Shuler. Owens encouraged his niece to take a bus to Lake Charles and record a single with Goldband. Parton recorded her first single, “Puppy Love” for Goldband.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Shuler and Goldband continued to thrive, continuing to evolve and adapt with different music styles and new talent.
About 1995 Shuler enlisted the services of Bert Frilot, who had worked with recording engineer Cosimo Matassa of New Orleans. Frilot also built a studio in Pasadena, Texas, for Mickey Gilley's roadhouse. Before his untimely death in 1999, Frilot single-handedly upgraded Goldband's facility by installing a 24-track studio and console with computerized automated mixing. Frilot also suggested that Shuler invest in a website [http://www.purecajun.com/goldband] in order to advertise not only musical merchandise and paraphernalia (T-shirts, posters, books, rub boards, videos) but other South Louisiana merchandise, particularly foods (hot sauce, seasonings, gumbo mixes, roux, etc.). Frilot also outfitted a computer with graphic arts software to create custom CD booklets, cassette J-cards, company brochures, and catalogues.
In 1995, Shuler transferred Goldband's business records, studio logs, promotional materials, and inventory of over 14, 000 master tapes to the University of North Carolina. The finding aid for the Goldband Recording Corporation Records can be found here: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/g/Goldband_Recording_Corporation.html.
In 2004, Shuler's health began to fail and he entrusted the running of Goldband to longtime assistant Pamela Wilkinson. Goldband remains the nation's longest running independent record label.
Goodly, Ezolia Ann. Zydeco accordionist and vocalist. Goodly was born in 1971 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she still resides. She began playing the accordion at the age of nine. She taught herself to play by listening to zydeco recordings. With her band, she has performed at numerous festivals around Louisiana and the United States including the Plaisance Zydeco Festival, the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival, the Natchitoches/Northwestern State University Folk Festival, the Jambalaya Jam in Philadelphia, the Louisiana Folklife Festival, as well as events in Tennessee, California, and Arkansas. She has even played in several areas in Europe including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France. She has a recording called “Miss Ann Goodly and the Zydeco Brothers.”
Granger, Deama. Granger was born on November 9, 1901 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Granger was a Cajun music accordionist and played music with J. B. Fuselier and the Eunice Playboys, Ellis Vanicor and the Lacassine Playboys, Sidney Brown, the Lake Charles Ramblers, Robert Bertrand, and many others. Granger performed on the KSWL radio show with Jim Toth in the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles. Granger died on April 19, 1963 in Lake Charles. In 1991, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Granger into its Hall of Fame.
Granger, Wilson ("Pagro"). Granger was born in Duralde, Louisiana in 1921. Granger began playing the fiddle at an early age and performed with Nathan Abshire, Ernest Thibodeaux, Atlas Fruge, Jimmy Baker, and Iry LeJeune. Granger wrote "Durald Waltz," which he recorded with LeJeune. Granger died in 2005 and is a member of the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame.
Guidry, Willie Parker Jr. ["The Legendary Bill Parker"]. Guidry was a musician and leader of Bill Parker's Fabulous Showboat Band. Guidry also owned Optune Records. Guidry died March 11, 2003 in Lake Charles, Louisiana at age 75.
Guillory, Havenus "Bubba." Guillory was born on November 23, 1929 in Welsh, Louisiana. Guillory is a Cajun music guitarist and has played music with Bobby Leger, Nathan Abshire, Jo-El Sonnier, "Blackie" Forestier, and many others. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Guillory into its Hall of Fame.
Guillory, Queen Ida. Queen Ida was born "Ida Lewis" on January 15, 1929, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the daughter of a rice farmer. Ida's father played the harmonica, her mother played the accordion, and her uncles played the accordion and fiddle. The family played Zydeco informally after the farm work was done.
Ida's family moved to Beaumont, Texas, and then to San Francisco, California. In 1947 Ida married Ray Guillory, an airman at Travis Air Force Base (California). The couple socialized with friends and relatives in the Bay Area who were from Louisiana, and celebrated with the music and food of their former home.
After Ida married, she attended nursing school, but quit to have her first child. When her three children grew older, she took a part-time job driving a school bus. On school field trips, Ida brought her accordion with her and played it while waiting for the children to return to the bus.
In the early 1970s Ida began playing the accordion and singing with the Barbary Coast Band. The band played Latin and soft rock and was led by Ida's brother, Al Lewis (better known as Al Rapone). In the beginning, the band played at private dances held by the local community of transplanted African American Louisianians. Soon the band received more formal invitations to play and they became known as the "Barbary Coast Band, featuring Queen Ida," then "Queen Ida and the Barbary Coast Band," and finally "Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band."
Queen Ida plays the 31-key accordion which allows her to play more melodically than the standard 11-key Cajun accordion. Her music is an eclectic mix of Rhythm & Blues, Caribbean, Cajun, and Zydeco.
By 1976 Queen Ida had appeared at the Monterey Jazz and Blues Festival and began recording for GNP/Crescendo Records. When her youngest daughter, Ledra, went to college and she quit her school bus job and started to tour more. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the band added more family members, including Ida's brother, Willie, a washboard player; her husband Ray became the group's manager; their son, Myrick, played the washboard, accordion, and sang; another son, Ronald joined the band; and daughter Ledra helped with administrative work.
Ida was the first Zydeco artist to win a Grammy Award (for the Best Ethnic/Folk Album in 1982 for Queen Ida on Tour, recorded in Denmark). In 1989, she won the W.C. Handy Female Blues Vocalist of the Year Award. In the 1990s, Ida expanded her touring to include not only Europe, but also Japan, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, she continued to tour and perform, although she did not record any more albums during that period.
Guillory, Joseph Matthew. Guillory was born on December 18, 1927 in Elton, Louisiana. Guillory was a Cajun music guitarist and played music with Bruce and the Riverside Ramblers, Minos Broussard, and others. Guillory died on April 22, 1980. In 1991, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Guillory into its Hall of Fame.
Guitar, Jr. [see Lee Baker, Jr.].
Ha-Ash [See Hanna and Ashley
By the end of the 1940s, the Ramblers had recorded over 100 songs. However, interest in Cajun music began to wane during the 1960s and the Hackberry Ramblers contemplated retirement. But Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records encouraged the band to keep playing and began recording them in 1963. Then the band consisted of Crawford J. Vincent on drums; Darbonne on the violin; Duhon on accordion, rhythm guitar and vocals; Lennis Sonnier on rhythm guitar and vocals; Johnny Parker on bass fiddle; and Glen Croker on steel guitar.Arhoolie reissued some of the band’s RCA Bluebird classics and the Ramblers continued playing dances along the Louisiana/Texas border.
Since 1988 The Hackberry Ramblers have performed annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and appear at diverse events across the country. The Ramblers also played weekly in their home base of Lake Charles.
In 1997 the band recorded Deep Water, which earned them a Grammy nomination and a wider national audience. Besides the core members of The Hackberry Ramblers, Deep Water features several distinguished guests: Marcia Ball [making her debut recording in French], Rodney Crowell, Michael Doucet, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. In 1999, they played at the Grand Ole Opry and made their European debut. Prior to the deaths of Duhon and Darbone, the Ramblers were known as the oldest band in America.
Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah is an oratorio composed by G.F. Handel telling the story of the life of Christ. On December 15, 1940, Dr. Francis Bulber directed the first performance of the Messiah in the McNeese Auditorium. In that performance, the choir was 85 members strong and the only accompaniment consisted of two pianos. This oratorio has been performed every December since 1940 to the present day. Today, the choir consists of up to 200 members and the accompaniment consists of a full orchestra consisting of violins, violas, cellos, basses, bassoons, trumpets, a tympani, and a harpsichord.
Hanks, Leetel J. Hanks was born on October 31, 1939 in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. Hanks is a Cajun music guitarist and has played music with the Cajun Clippers, the Lake Charles Ramblers, the Southern Ramblers, Geno Thibodeaux, Phil Menard, Chris Miller, Jesse Lege, and many others. In 2002, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Hanks into its Hall of Fame.
Higginbotham, Darrell. Higginbotham was born on December 19, 1938 in Church Point, Louisiana. Higginbotham is a Cajun music guitarist and has played music with Iry LeJeune, Phil Menard, Bobby Leger and the Lake Charles Playboys, Robert Bertrand, the Sundown Playboys, and many others. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Higginbotham into its Hall of Fame.
Hodges, Calvin "Jeff." Hodges was a studio drummer, singer, songwriter, and native of DeQuincy, Louisiana. Hodges lived in Austin for the past 12 years and worked with many bands and artists including Chris Duarte and Lavelle White. Hodges died April 29, 1999 at age 41.
Hoffpauir, Clifford John. Hoffpauir was born on July 13, 1937 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Hoffpauir is a Cajun music guitarist and has played music with Phil Menard, the Hackberry Ramblers, Nathan Abshire, Joe Bonsall, Rockin Sidney, Cookie and the Cupcakes, and many others. In 2000, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Hoffpauir into its Hall of Fame.
Hopkins, Dennis. Hopkins received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Baylor University, a master's degree from West Texas State University, and a doctorate [ABD] in Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. Before directing the McNeese Band, he was the band director at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. Hopkins' high school bands achieved many honors, such as Bands of America Regional Marching Champions and the Texas Music Educators Association’s State Honor Band of Texas. Since leaving McNeese, Hopkins has directed bands at University of Mary-Hardin Baylor and the University of Wyoming. He is currently the Administrative Supervisor of Fine Arts for the Austin [Texas] Independent School District.
Howison, Herbert Milford. Howison was born at Chippewa Lake, Michigan, November 21, 1888. From 1904 to 1906 he attended the University of New Mexico School of Music. From 1906 to 1907 he was a student in Martin College in Tennessee and from 1907 to 1912 he continued his musical training at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin, Ohio. From 1912 to 1915 Howison directed the Lake Charles (Louisiana) Conservatory of Music. At the same time, he served as choir director of the First Baptist and First Presbyterian Churches. In 1914 Howison served as chairman of the Standardization Committee and a member of the Executive Committee and the State Piano Committee of the Louisiana Music Teachers' Association and in 1915 served as president of the association. In 1915 Howison became the director of music of Oswego College for Women (Kansas).
Jackson, Ivory. Jackson was a native of Texas and a resident of Lake Charles, Louisiana most of his life. Jackson worked with Cookie and the Cupcakes, Willie Marchand, Katie Webster, Sid Lawrence, and others. Jackson died August 28, 1999 at age 72.
Janot, John Remie. Janot was born on September 14, 1934 in Eunice, Louisiana. Janot was a Cajun musician and radio disc jockey. He started his career in 1956 at KEUN in Eunice. From there, Janot worked at radio stations in Port Arthur and Austin, Texas. He returned to Lake Charles to work for KLOU and KLVI, hosting the "Cajun Bandstand." Janot died on January 21, 1984. In 1990, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Janot into its Hall of Fame.
Jocque, Beau [See Andrus Espre].
Johnson, Hugh. Johnson was born in 1928 in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. Johnson is a Cajun music fiddler and has played music with Phil Menard, Eddie Shuler and the Reveliers, Joe Bonsall, Lesa Cormier, and many others. In 1995, the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association inducted Johnson into its Hall of Fame.
Johnson, Kirk "Jelly Roll." Johnson, a harmonica player, was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Johnson moved to Nashville in 1984 and soon began recording with Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Rogers, Etta James, Guy Clark, Lee Ann Womack, Randy Travis, The Judds, Alan Jackson, and many others. In 1998 Jelly Roll won the Nashville Music Award for Best Wind Instrumentalist. In 2003 Johnson won the best Specialty Instrument Award from the Academy of Country Music. Jelly Roll regularly performs at Nashville's Bluebird Cafe with Fred Knobloch, Tom Schuyler and Don Schlitz.
Jolie Blonde [see also McNeese School Song]. Jolie Blonde (or Joli Blon) is a popular Cajun waltz often referred to as the “Cajun National Anthem.” The song was made famous by Harry Choates in the late 1940s. The McNeese Band began playing the song in 1951 under Band Director Eddie See. In 1970, Jolie Blonde became the official McNeese school song.