Table of Contents

Louisiana Folklife: An Introduction

Louisiana Folklife: An Introduction, Nicholas R. Spitzer

Ethnicity, Region, Occupation and Family

Documenting Tradition

The Vietnamese Documentary Project, Mark Sindler
Louisiana Folk and Regional Popular Music Traditions on Records and the Radio, Stephen R. Tucker
Recording Louisiana Folk Music for Arhoolie Records, Chris Strachwitz

Folklife and Public Policy

Public Sector Attention to Folklife in the United States, Archie Green
Folklife and Public Policy In Louisiana
A Folklife Plan for the State of Louisiana, F. A. de Caro
Folklife and Education, C. Paige Gutierrez
Folklife and the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism
Office of Cultural Development: Division of the Arts, Louisiana Folklife Program, Division of Historic Preservation, Division of Archeology
Office of State Museum
Office of Tourism
Office of State Parks
Office of the State Library


1. Resources in Research, Preservation, and Presentation of Louisiana Folklife
2. Doctoral Dissertations/Masters Theses Relevant to Louisiana Folklife
3. Film and Video on Louisiana Folklife
4. Louisiana Folk Music on Sound Recordings
5. Louisiana Festivals -- Traditional and Otherwise
6. Louisiana State Documents Relevant to Folklife
7. Oral History and Folklife
8. Louisiana Folklife Legislation/Louisiana Folklife Commission
9. Louisiana Folklife Survey

Louisiana Folk And Regional Popular Music Traditions On Records And The Radio: An Historical Overview With Suggestions For Future Research

By Stephen R. Tucker

This essay originally appeared in Folklife in Louisiana: A Guide to the State published by the Office of Cultural Development in 1985. This essay is provided online courtesy of the editor since the publication is out of print.


Editor's Introduction

Perhaps more than any other folk art form in the state, Louisiana's music traditions are world renowned. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Louisiana has such a great diversity of musical forms arising from its varied peoples and cultures that the musical blending here is like nowhere else in the United States. For example, traditional New Orleans jazz has its roots in the mingling of Afro-American style, Caribbean rhythms, and European instrumentation and melodic ideas. Creole zydeco music joins Caribbean rhythms with Acadian tunes and Afro-American blues. The rockabilly music of the Louisiana Delta region represents the overlay of rhythm and blues and hillbilly music. Less well known may be traditions of Anglo ballad singers, Isleño decima singers, and Italian festival music, among others. Even a music found elsewhere in the United States, such as gospel, takes on a special significance and style in New Orleans' spiritual churches or when sung in a black French testifying tradition called jurer music. Finally, there is the increasingly popular Cajun music, which has its roots in France and Acadia as well as Louisiana. Thus, it mingles French Medieval sounds with blues, hillbilly music, jazz, and rock music among other forms.

The second reason for the widespread dissemination of an interest in Louisiana folk and popular music, and the focus of this article, is the fact that the recording industry and broadcast have made this music available to a wider audience in increasingly sophisticated ways since the initial recording of country blues and Cajun 78s in the twenties and the first broadcast of Louisiana "hillbilly" music on the radio during the same decade. Indeed, the producers of these early folk media have sometimes been called "unwitting folklorists." That is, they had the effect of documenting the folk tradition they recorded and disseminated. However, because their goal was to sell the folk music back to the people, they also made aesthetic decisions that would influence who played what for whom. In so doing, their impact on changing music styles and people's perceptions of their culture, then and later on, was enormous. So it happened that French bands often tried to sound like Anglo stringbands, Creole zydeco musicians tried to sound Cajun and rural blacks tried to sound urban. One need only to hear "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" played today as a French two-step by a rural Creole musician become eternally aware of the impact of the media on folk traditions even today

Although the record and broadcast media often overwhelm local music traditions, such as singing ballads and playing fiddle in favor of disco music or Nashville country, there is also a positive side. For one thing, much Louisiana popular music, like that of Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino or the Neville Brothers, retains its regional identity. For another, the media--be they records, newspapers, television, films, or radio---have a special way of validating and encouraging a cultural activity that can be enlisted to actively promote the root folk traditions. Thus, a strong French music record market exists in Louisiana today which has influenced and been influenced by the revival and interest in French culture in general. A parallel revival now seems to be underway with Louisiana blues and hillbilly music. New Orleans jazz has always fared pretty well, although it took a push from small, largely European, record companies in the fifties and sixties to preserve and promote what traditional performers and styles still existed. An increasing array of folklorists and interested media people are creating radio shows records, TV programs and the like that honor the folk music traditions, and, by association, the cultures of Louisiana. Such additional "airtime" for traditional culture and musician encourages local communities to celebrate and experience their own music traditions, while sharing them with the world.

Much still needs to be done to document the traditions we do have and encourage their continuance. This task is not easy. As a folk-popular music historian, Stephen R. Tucker cannot rely heavily on the written record in his research, as do conventional historians. Thus, the bibliography of this article is filled with special kinds of documents such as oral histories, taped interviews, field recordings, music song sheets, promotional handbills, and record jacket liner notes.

Stephen Tucker is a graduate student at Tulane University working on his dissertation on the history of country music in Louisiana. He has already completed a definitive study on the Louisiana Hayride and has edited two LPs of country music for the Smithsonian. His article summarizes the historical materials and people involved in the recorded Louisiana folk music traditions and suggests future work needed to encourage the understanding, appreciation and preservation of these traditions.


The genesis and subsequent evolution of the commercial exploitation of the folk music traditions of the American South is by now a familiar story.1 Detailed examinations of various ethnic groups, sub-genres and geographic entities continue to emanate from the pens of journalists, folklorists, literary scholars, anthropologists, musicologists, discographers, sociologists, historians, and others.2 That large gaps continue to exist in documentary recordings as well as in descriptive and analytic literature is undeniable. Many areas of research concerning the musical traditions of Louisiana can illuminate, extend and deepen larger ongoing scholarly endeavors. Louisiana has, along with Texas, a musical heritage as rich and dynamic as any of the United States.

Jazz musicians at Preservation Hall, New Orleans. Photograph: Al Godoy. Louisiana Office of Tourism.

The modern commercialization process began with radio. Whether or not the earliest radio station in the state, WWL of New Orleans, was the first to employ folk-style musicians has not been determined. What seems most likely is that the second station to broadcast, KWKH of Shreveport, became the first to be publicly identified as a dependable medium for folk music, specifically the style known as "hillbilly."3 KWKH began its broadcasting life as WGAQ in July, l922. The earliest evidence of the scheduled programming of folk music comes from a newspaper reference listing the forthcoming performance of the Old Fiddlers Club of North Louisiana on Friday evening, March 14, 1925 (Shreveport Times, March 8, 1925). What then of the intervening two-and-one, half years? A diligent search of station records and newspaper files might well uncover earlier information.

Valuable work of a general nature has been done on KWKH and its flamboyant owner, W. K. Henderson, perhaps the key nonperforming figure in the early commercial period (Pusateri 1976, 1980). Still, there is a great deal to be learn about programming practices and decisions, audience and community attitudes, advertising ploys, and, especially, the identities, backgrounds, styles and repertoires of the musicians themselves. As an example of this approach, one might view Tony Russell's study of one of the most popular early groups, the Taylor-Griggs Louisiana Melody Makers, as a model of initial research. Through interviews with the sole surviving member of the group and the subsequent publication of a brief article, Russell has done much to identify and document some important participants in the commercialization process (Russell 1977).

The brief radio and recording career of the Taylor-Griggs ensemble was quite typical of most hillbilly performers during the early commercial period. Originally consisting of six members of the Robert C. Grigg family from the remote north Louisiana community of Bear Creek and a fiddling attorney from the small town of Arcadia, Foster R. Taylor, the group gained professional experience through countless appearances in their home area, at house parties, school plays, civic banquets, and the like. Thus they were seasoned entertainers by the time they were hired by W. K. Henderson to appear on KWKH during the summer of 1928. Though they clearly were heirs of the southern Anglo-Celtic folk music tradition, like almost any contemporary stringband of the 1920s they also enjoyed playing songs from Tin Pan Alley. For their inaugural appearance on KWKH, they performed Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith's campaign song, "The Sidewalks of New York."

An even more popular hillbilly act employed by Henderson during the early years of KWKH went by the name of the Lone Star Cowboys. Led by a pair of brothers from East Texas named Bob and Joe Shelton, the group generated a loyal following throughout the Mid-South region. Subsequent incarnations as the Sunshine Boys and as simply the Shelton Brothers brought them and KWKH a measure of popular acclaim unmatched in Louisiana and neighboring states.4 Along with the Sheltons, numerous other well-known hillbilly artists peppered KWKH programming. Around 1928, a brother trio from the Macon, Georgia, area, the Newman Brothers, began a six-year tenure as featured entertainers (Tribe 1978: 9). Still another popular brother act was the Rice Brothers, brought to Shreveport from Atlanta by Bob and Joe Shelton in 1934 (Shelton interview).

Probably the most representative artist of the early commercial period was Jimmie Davis. Steeped in rural Protestant culture, but enamored of the blues style, Davis began his musical career as a street singer in Alexandria in 1927. By 1929, like the Taylor-Griggs group and the Shelton Brothers, he had gravitated to W. K. Henderson's station, the first crucial step in a career that would last for over half a century and culminate in election to the Louisiana governorship in 1944 and 1960, and enshrinement in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973 (Davis interview 1979; Bellcase 1975).

The late New Orleans blues and boogie pianist Henry Roeland Byrd, aka, Professor Longhair. Photo: D. Eric Bookhardt. Copyright.

KWKH was temporarily matched as a forum for hillbilly music by WWL of New Orleans. Chiefly as a result of the work of business historian C. Joseph Pusateri, we can learn a great deal about the commercial use of folk music on the state's other radio giant. It is difficult to point to any date or artist as marking the beginnings of country music on WWL, but Pusateri has noted that programming from the period 1924-1928 was characterized by "decorum" rather than "popular appeal" (Pusateri 1980: 57). By the early 1930s however, country acts dominated the station's broadcasts. In 1934, for example, WWL featured comedian-musician Lew Childre; Childre's partner, Wiley Walker; Jerry Behrens, a yodeling guitarist in the mold of country music idol Jimmie Rodgers; the Four Crazy Hickory Nuts; J.E. Mauny and his Caroline Ramblers; the Country Breakdowns; the Fiddling Bees; Smiling Henry Berman's Village Barn; and the Pickard Family, one of the most traveled singing groups in country music history (Pusateri 1980: 126-127). From 1933 to 1934, the Shelton Brothers (now minus Leon Chappelear) and virtuoso fiddler Curley Fox also appeared regularly on the station (Shelton interview). WWL's tenure as a haven for hillbilly talent was actually quite brief.

WWL was owned by Loyola University, an institution whose authorities had long winced at the station's growing reputation as the "ache and pain station of the nation." Attainment of network status in 1935 undoubtedly encouraged the gradual removal of almost every hillbilly musician from the air. By 1938, seventy-five percent of evening and fifty percent of daytime programming was network-based (Pusateri 1980: 125, 174-176, 189-195).

Despite Pusateri's groundbreaking study, the full story of the New Orleans station's contribution as a purveyor of country music is untold. A figure such as Jerry Behrens, about whom almost nothing is known, deserves to be rescued from historical anonymity, if only as an example of the tendency of solo stars to emerge in the wake of Jimmie Rodgers after 1927. Behrens may well be alive today; should an enterprising researcher discover his whereabouts and interview him, many of the existing gaps in the documentary record would begin to close. And what of even more obscure entertainers like the Fiddling Bees? What were their names? Where did they originate? How did they gain airtime on WWL and what became of them? What tunes did they perform? The industrious scholar will search for patterns and configurations which give order and shape to the large and complex problem of the commercialization of folk culture. Finally, it is a great irony indeed that radio, clearly the most important medium in the early commercial period, should be the most difficult to document. The fact that many pioneer artists and executives are still around, even if unlocated, is encouraging to those interested in learning more about a crucial era in the development of American regional and national culture.

Recordings have long been the most common resource for studying folk music and its commercial outgrowths. And it is accurate to add that blues recordings have attracted more attention than those in parallel musical traditions such as country and Cajun. Recordings allow the assignment of chronological and historical landmarks with a high degree of certainty. The discographical labors of English record collectors has been particularly valuable in this regard.5

When was the first commercial recording made in Louisiana and what was it? In his book, Country: The Biggest Music in America (1977), journalist Nick Tosches offered a tantalizing clue to early recording activity in the state. Tosches cited a catalogue put out by the Louisiana Phonograph Company of New Orleans in 1892.6 After identifying "two groups of recordings by a man named Louis Vasnier." Tosches speculated that the company may have produced "some real country, blues, and jazz records" almost three decades before the flowering of commercial recording in the l920s (Tosches 1977: 245-246). Certainly any further evidence of the activities of the Louisiana Phonograph Company would be most welcome.

Within two years of the inaugural radio broadcast in Louisiana, the first commercial recording unit traveled to New Orleans. It was there in March, 1924, that the Okeh Record Company recorded several blues and gospel performers. The first person to cut a record in the state seems to have been a female vocalist named Lela Bolden. Accompanied by Armond J. Piron on violin and Steve Lewis on piano, Bolden cut two sides, "Southern Woman Blues" and "Seawall Special "Blues." Thereafter, record companies in search of folk music of all kinds--gospel, blues, hillbilly, Cajun--made New Orleans a semi-regular stopping place for field units. From 1924 to 1936, New Orleans was the site of thirteen field sessions, ranking it third in terms of gospel and blues activity, behind Atlanta and Dallas. In addition many hillbilly and Cajun sessions took place in the Crescent City, producing at least two landmark recordings.7

While this is not the place for a definitive examination of records made in Louisiana, it is possible to survey the topic, with emphasis on especially significant artists and sessions.

The Okeh Company returned to New Orleans in January, 1925, where two blues duets by Billy and Mary Mack were recorded. In April, 1926, a Columbia unit cut several gospel performers, including one of the most popular artists of the prewar years, J. M. Gates. Victor held its first New Orleans session in the early spring of 1927, followed by another Columbia field unit a few weeks later. A year later Columbia returned to the city. Then, near the end of 1928, Brunswick entered the field with the recording of four acts, including Bo Chatman. Chatman was an excellent blues performer from Mississippi who often fronted a string band named the Mississippi Sheiks. Chatman, who also recorded under the name of Bo Carter, was the most prolific musician to record in New Orleans, cutting more tunes over a longer time span than any other individual or group.

Recording activity resumed in February, 1929, when Brunswick's Vocalion subsidiary cut numbers by a blues singer and a gospel ensemble. Near the end of 1929, Vocalion returned to record four additional sides of gospel music. About a month later, both Columbia and its recently acquired subsidiary, Okeh, sent field units to the Crescent City, with Okeh again recording J. M. Gates.

Columbia and Okeh sessions of 1929 were the last commercial field recordings held in New Orleans for over five years. The only other field trip elsewhere in Louisiana from late 1929 to early 1935 took place in February, 1930, in Shreveport. There the Mississippi Sheiks made eight records for the Okeh label, including their classic version of "Sitting On Top of the World," a song that not only became a blues standard, but entered the hillbilly tradition as well.

The obvious explanation for the long hiatus in recording activity in the state was the onset of the Great Depression. Scarcely had record companies begun to compete with radio as a medium of musical expression when the national economic collapse threatened the destruction of the industry. Particular damage was done to ethnic music of all kinds, since it was assumed that such styles had an automatically narrow appeal. A few statistics will highlight the devastating impact of the Depression on the record business. In 1929, record companies made 1,250 hillbilly recordings and released 800; by 1931, the respective totals were down to 975 and 575; by 1934, 825 and 375. Corresponding figures for race recordings (jazz, blues, and gospel) were: 1929, 800 and 500; l931, 1575 and 400; l934, 375 and 225 (Cohen 1980: l28-129). Clearly the cutback in actual numbers recorded reflected an almost complete termination of field recordings. As the Depression deepened, fewer and fewer excursions into the hinterlands were financially feasible. Those few artists whose commercial potential allowed them the luxury of continued recording activity were forced to go to the companies. Only Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio were visited more than once by recording companies from 1931 to 1934.

The ramifications of such radically revised policies may be briefly summarized. First, the record industry necessarily became more centralized, and competition was minimized. Second, since only established acts continued to record, new talents, perhaps even some very great performers, were denied the opportunity to be permanently documented. Third, and by extension, certain styles and substyles, each dependent upon a specialized audience, vanished from company logbooks. That is why fewer hillbilly artists were recorded than popular ones, fewer race than hillbilly, and fewer ethnic than race. Most telling of all regarding the folk heritage of Louisiana was the absolute dearth of Cajun recordings made during this time.


Stringband musicians near Hammond, LA, ca 1910. Piney Woods People Collection, Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University.

Cajun musicians had never been recorded in substantial numbers even before hard times further limited their access to recording studios. The first Cajun recording was Allons a Lafayette by accordionist Joe Falcon, cut for Columbia in New Orleans on April 27, 1928 (Russell letter; Strachwitz 1970; Post 1970). Leo Soileau, an innovative fiddler, followed Falcon by three months, cutting four sides for Victor in Atlanta. Soileau was the leading Cajun musician of his generation, certainly the most talented to record during the first wave of commercialization. He was also the most prolific and widely traveled. During the summer and fall of 1929, he recorded for Paramount in Richmond, Indiana, for Victor in Memphis, and for Vocalion in New Orleans (Malone field notes, 1974; Russell, 1977-1978).

New Orleans was also the likely site of the first recording of black French musicians. According to Tony Russell, the honor should go to Douglas Bellar and Kirby Riley, who first recorded for Vocalion in the Crescent City in early October, 1929 (Russell 1978). The next black French artist to record was accordionist Amédée Ardoin, who cut his earliest sides for Brunswick in 1930, accompanied by a Cajun fiddler named Dennis McGee. Ardoin was by all accounts the greatest of the pioneer black French-speaking artists. He later made records for Bluebird, Decca, and Melotone before his death in a Pineville mental asylum in the 1940s (Daigle; Wickham; Strachwitz liner notes 1970).

Ardoin's partner, Dennis McGee of Eunice, has had the longest career of any Cajun musician; he still performs on occasion, well into his eighth decade. McGee's fiddle style has always reflected the nineteenth-century folk roots of Cajun music. Other Cajun pioneer recording artists, about whom much is yet to be learned, included Cleoma Breaux Falcon, Joseph's first wife; the Breaux Brothers (Cleoma's brothers, Amédée, Clifford, and Ophy); the Segura Brothers; and Roy Gonzales, who was a Cajun Jimmie Rodgers imitator (Russell 1977-1978; Wickham; Strachwitz liner notes 1970 and 1973).

Cajun artists had just begun to record when the Depression intervened. Following the Brnnswick sessions of November, 1930, no Cajun records were made for almost four years (Russell 1977-1978). And even as the Depression waned, more traditional Cajun performers continued to be shunned in favor of those such as the Dixie Ramblers and Darbone's Hackberry Ramblers, who had adopted a more mainstream hillbilly stringband sound or, later, the new jazz-influenced approach called western swing.

Through the lean years of the early 1930s, only one Louisiana native, Jimmie Davis, regularly recorded. Not even Davis, however, made records in his home state. Davis participated in sessions for Victor in Memphis in May, 1930; in Charlotte in May, 1931; in Dallas in February, 1932; in Camden, New Jersey (Victor headquarters) in November, 1932; for Victor's Bluebird subsidiary in Chicago in August, 1933 and September, 1934. For the Chicago sessions, Davis was backed by Bob and Joe Shelton and Leon Chappelear (Russell, Davis discography).

Less represented on Louisiana folk music recordings is old time country with fiddle and fiddlesticks as played by performers like Irene and Curt Blackwell, Covington, St. Tammany Parish. Photo: Nicholas R. Spitzer.

Davis's recording schedule was quite exceptional due in part to the fact that he popularized many folk styles from gospel and blues to hillbilly, and also because of his non-folk crooning style as a solo entertainer. By contrast, even popular hillbilly radio performers like the Taylor-Griggs group found themselves bereft of recording opportunities. They had managed to gain an audition with head Victor scout and producer Ralph Peer during the same summer in which they first appeared on KWKH. The Peer audition led to their first recording session for Victor in Memphis in September, 1928. A year later they again journeyed to Memphis to cut several tunes, but with a new, more polished lineup. Before the group's recording career could fully begin, however, economic exigencies forced them to disband late in 1929 (Russell 1977).

After 1934 there was a gradual resumption in recording activity for all but traditional-sounding Cajun musicians. In January 1935, Bluebird made the first field trip to New Orleans since 1929. Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks headed the coterie of blues performers who participated in the sessions, but it was the hillbilly and country artists that made the most significant recordings in the city prior to World War II. Three acts who made the trip to New Orleans to record under the direction of Victor's Eli Oberstein came from Nashville, where they were regularly featured on the Grand Ole Opry--fiddler Arthur Smith, brothers Alton and Rabon Delmore, and banjoist-comedian Uncle Dave Macon. The most memorable single cut was Arthur Smith's modern version of "Listen to the Mockingbird," the nineteenth-century chestnut which was given new life and destined to influence an entire generation of country fiddlers. Accompanying Smith were the Delmore Brothers, who also cut several numbers on their own, including "Brown's Ferry Blues, Part 2," "Alabama Lullaby, "I Know I'll Be Happy in Heaven," and "The Fugitive's Lament." The final artist to record was probably the best known of all, the Grand Ole Opry's first solo star, Uncle Dave Macon. Macon cut six tunes, each of which suggested key elements in the southern folk music tradition: "Over the Mountain," "When the Harvest Days Are Over, "One More River to Cross," "Just One Way to the Pearly Gates," "I'll Tickle Nancy," and "I'll Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy" (Delmore 1977: 95, 99-103, 180; Wolfe 1970).

The year 1936 had its significant moments of recording history as well. Both Bluebird and Decca made field trips to New Orleans. The Decca field sessions were historic for the simple reason that they were the only ones held by the company before World War II. The Bluebird sessions produced a recording of major proportions in "Wondering" by the Riverside Ramblers.

The Riverside Ramblers were a group of Cajun musicians who did not record in an identifiable Cajun style. Their approach was heavily influenced by the dominant sound of their region and generation, an eclectic amalgam of hillbilly string band music, blues, jazz and pop called western swing. The Riverside Ramblers were, with a slightly expanded lineup, best known by the name Hackberry Ramblers. Along with Leo Soileau and his Three Aces, the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, and Beethoven Miller's Merrymakers (all of whom recorded for Bluebird), the Hackberry-Riverside Ramblers were in the vanguard of south Louisiana musicians who favored the newer sounds over traditional songs with accordion accompaniment and French lyrics. Thus it was that the Riverside Ramblers (Luderin Darbone, Lennis Sonier, and Joe Werner) whose first records were made in New Orleans in September, 1935 (under the name of the Hackberry Ramblers), came to record the decidedly pop-sounding "Wondering" in 1936 (Darbone interview; Strachwitz liner notes 1973; Spitzer 1976: 5).

Western swing highlighted the Decca sessions of 1936. From March 3-5, one of the most talented aggregations ever to record in the style, Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies, cut almost fifty sides, including such classics as "Hesitation Blues," "Stay on the Right Side Sister," and "Baby Keep Stealin"' (Russell liner notes 1980a). What made the sessions even more significant was the fact that they were the last for the pioneer western swing band leader Milton Brown. Just over a month after Brown and his group left New Orleans, he was killed in an automobile accident in Texas.

Some of the most creative western swing artists concentrated their careers in Texas and Louisiana, particularly the southern border area bounded by Houston on the west and Lafayette on the east. Ted Daffan was born in Louisiana, reared in Texas, and went on to become an influential steel guitarist, bandleader, and songwriter (best remembered for his honky-tonk standard, "Born to Lose"). Fiddlers Cliff Bruner and Link Davis were highly regarded performers from the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. Hank Penny, a fine guitarist, singer, and comedian, and progressive steel guitarist Noel Boggs both had a brief tenure at WWL in New Orleans, Jimmie Davis also readily adopted the pervasive western swing style, recording with the Musical Brownies in 1937 and employing several talented sidemen, including pianist Moon Mullican, Cajun fiddler Doc Guidry, steel guitarist Charles Mitchell, guitarist Jimmie Thomasson, and vocalist-songwriter Buddy Jones (Bruner interview; Spitzer 1976: 5-8; Russell liner notes 1980b). The entire question of the relationship between New Orleans-based Dixieland jazz and the subsequent development of western swing has never been adequately explained.8

Blues and gospel artists had also resumed recording activity in New Orleans by the mid-1930s, though not with the same frequency as before. In August, 1935, Victor recorded three bluesmen in the Crescent City: Monkey Joe, Harry Carter, and an outstanding pianist, Little Brother Montgomery. Montgomery was an exemplar of indigenous piano blues style that had been forged in the sawmills and levee camps along the Mississippi River (Zur Heide 1970; Shaw 1978: 27-35). In February, 1936, the company returned to record Bo Carter. The Decca sessions of 1936 yielded, in addition to cuts by Milton Brown's Musical Brownies, recordings by blues singer Walter Vinson (yet another of the Mississippi Sheiks) and several Cajun acts. Then in October, 1936, Victor made the last commercial field recordings in Louisiana, cutting numbers by a large variety of artists: the Chatmon Brothers, Mississippi Matilda, Sonny Boy Nelson, Robert Hill, Bo Carter, Tommy Griffin, Annie Turner, Little Brother Montgomery, Creole George Geusnon, and Walter Jacobs.

Field recordings of Louisiana folk musicians did not cease with the withdrawal of the record companies. Substantial documentation had been undertaken by the Library of Congress beginning in July, 1933. Field workers John, Ruby, and Alan Lomax traveled extensively throughout Louisiana in search of blues, gospel, and Cajun musicians. Again, with the aid of Godrich and Dixon, a chronological outline of the Lomaxes' work may be sketched.

The first Cajun recording artists (1928), Cleoma Breaux Falcon and Joe Falcon. Lauren Chest Post Photographs, Mss. 3267, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA.

John and Alan Lomax made the first of their many field trips to Louisiana in 1933. One of their first stops was the state penitentiary in Angola on July 16. There they discovered a wealth of material and a number of interesting singers whom they hastened to document. Among the inmates to record were Rudolf Thomson (five sides), Ernest Rogers (one side), Jimmy Otis (one side), Roy McDaniels (three sides), and most importantly, a twelve-string guitarist named Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly. Leadbelly was an incomparable discovery; in time he became the best-known black folk musician in the country. His repertoire, documented in a series of recordings for the Library of Congress and a succession of folk-oriented labels such as Biograph and Folkways, projected an amalgam of Louisiana's folk music heritage to a national audience. The Lomaxes were quite taken with Leadbelly from the beginning; the initial Angola sessions consisted of eight numbers, including "The Western Cowboy," "Frankie and Albert," "Honey, Take a Whiff On Me," and an early version of his most famous song, "Goodnight Irene."

From Angola, the Lomaxes traveled to New Orleans where in late August, they recorded a vocalist named Sullivan Rock. In July, 1934, they returned to Louisiana, recording blues singers and songsters in New Iberia, Amelia, Lafayette, Lloyd, and Baton Rouge; gospel artists and Afro-French jurer singers on Avery Island, near False River, and in Lafayette and Lake Arthur; and a black church service on a plantation outside Baton Rouge. Another visit to Angola resulted in thirteen more tunes by Leadbelly (many of which were repeated from the previous year's sessions). In September, following a pardon from Governor O. K. Allen. Leadbelly cut one song in Shreveport and served as an accompanist for other musicians during field trips to Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Gould, and Tucker, Arkansas.9

A brief excursion to New Orleans in 1937 resulted in one session at the Lafont Catholic Old Folks Home; two years later a more extensive tour was made. The 1939 sessions, held in Knight and Merryville, yielded fourteen recordings, all either gospel songs or sermons. In September and October 1940, the last Library of Congress field trips took place. These sessions were, next to the Leadbelly sessions of 1933 and 1934, the most fruitful of any held in Louisiana. In September, gospel singers were documented in Merryville, and in Baton Rouge, bluesman Burley Mayberry cut one number. A month later, John and Ruby Lomax headed for the Shreveport area where they struck a rich vein of folk music. In Oil City they found and recorded Noah Moore, one of Leadbelly's cousins, and his Uncle Bob Ledbetter, who furnished his version of "Irene" (Oliver brochure notes 1978; Russell 1970: 81-85).

The Lomaxes had come to Oil City from Shreveport proper where they had recorded Oscar Woods, a singer and guitarist, and Kid West and Joe Harris, a mandolin-guitar duo. Woods, Harris and West were well-known street singers in the Shreveport area, performing on corners, in front of theatres and inside what Woods characterized as "little hop joints" (Oliver brochure notes). Shreveport and vicinity had long been a region alive with music, especially that of the folk variety. Oscar Woods had in fact been recorded before. He had backed Jimmie Davis on some early recordings, cut some solo numbers under the pseudonym of "The Lone Wolf" for Decca in New Orleans in 1936, and at the behest of Davis, fronted a band called the Wampus Cats at sessions for Vocalion in San Antonio in 1937 and Dallas in 1938 (Russell 1970: 81-85).10 West and Harris were older musicians but novices at recording. Like Leadbelly they reflected the nineteenth-century background in both style and repertoire.

Among the many folk performers documented by the Lomaxes were Louisiana French musicians. Less is known about this aspect of their field work, but the same tours which yielded examples from the Afro-American tradition also uncovered Cajun and Creole French-speaking artists (Alan Lomax liner notes). The most productive sessions may have been those that were held during the summer of 1934. In New Iberia, members of the Hoffpauir family were recorded. In Crowley and Delcambre, respectively, fiddlers Wayne Perry and Eddie Segura played several dance tunes. At Angola, Odgel Carrier, a black accordionist, also performed a dance number. (See also the article by F. A. de Caro and the Library of Congress Archive of Folksong Listings in this volume for information on the Lomaxes' work in Louisiana).

Radio, of course, provided most of the commercial opportunities for aspiring folk musicians throughout (and well after) the prewar period. Hillbilly rnusic undoubtedly dominated programming among folk-derived styles as stations proliferated in all sections of the state. Unfortunately, the history of radio in Louisiana, with the major exceptions of Pusateri's work and Lillian Jones Hall's 1959 dissertation, remains unwritten. When did radio first appear in places like Alexandria, Monroe, Crowley, Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Iberia, and Natchitoches, each of which has produced significant artists? When and where did black artists begin to perform, and in what manner? How was music advertised and programmed? These and related questions must be addressed in order to understand the implications for commercialization of indigenous folk styles. We do know that KWKH continued to be a stronghold of country music with regular appearances by old favorites like the Shelton Brothers and the Rice Brothers and newer acts like Harmie Smith and a popular gospel quartet, the Blackwood Brothers (Hall 1959: 100-l30; Logan Interview). Other radio stations in the state which were likely places to hear hillbilly and or Cajun music before World War II were KALB (Alexandria), WWL (New Orleans), WNOE (New Orleans, KSIG (Crowley), KPLC (Lake Charles), KVOL (Lafayette), KMLB (Monroe), and WJBO (Baton Rouge).

At least one important survey of radio audiences in Louisiana appeared during World War II. Based upon census figures, opinion polls, and other data from 1940, LSU scholar Edgar Schuler produced a detailed examination of the listening habits and preferences of thousands of Louisianians. Many of his findings shed light upon the status of folk music in the state. In 1940, approximately 53.3 per cent of the state's general population had radios. 72.6 per cent of urbanites, 52.5 per cent of rural non-farm and 27.3 per cent of farm residents had radios. As to types of music, "hillbilly and rural" was included under the broader category of "Popular and Folk Music." Hillbilly was listed as the first preference for 2.4 per cent of Schuler's respondents; secondly, 3.3 per cent; third by 2.2 per cent; and fourth by 2.6 per cent. For "Popular and Folk Music" in general, however, the figures were somewhat higher: first - 16.3 per cent; second, 17 per cent; third, 17.9 per cent; fourth, 17 per cent. In terms of all types of programming, "Popular and Folk Music" ranked as fourth choice behind "Entertainment," "Drama," and "News." When broken down even further, hillbilly music ranked twelfth. The most popular radio stations in the state were WWL, WSMB (New Orleans), WDSU (New Orleans), and KWKH. In the North Louisiana region, KWKH ranked first, followed by KTBS and KRMD (all located in Shreveport). Thus, on the eve of World War II, Schuler's survey indicated that audiences were only mildly interested in folk music and almost completely disinterested in country music. Even a cursory reading of the results of the study, however, reveals a clear bias in favor of educated, urban listeners. There was no attempt to classify listeners by income or any other index of class or status. Nor were black audiences clearly delineated. Still, the LSU study provides a rare look into radio audiences in Louisiana near the end of the early commercial period.

World War II was a watershed in the commercialization of American folk music, as it was in many ways for the society as a whole. Among the most important postwar developments were the rise of Top 40 radio and the overwhelming dominance of rock'n'roll (later, rock) music; the synthesis of musical styles, of which rock'n'roll was a culmination of sorts; the emergence of television as a competitive medium to both records and radio; the immediate decentralization of the recording industry which helped spawn a bewildering number of new companies, many of which catered to specialized audiences; and the thoroughgoing re-examination of America's traditional cultures, especially those of ethnic origins, by entrepreneurs, scholars, and audiences.

The most dramatic general development in the postwar years was the emergence of local independent record companies which catered to specialized audiences. Thus, within the framework of the society marked by increasing centralization and standardization in industry, government, transportation, and communication, there arose across the country a series of new companies, each locally owned and operated and each directed at a discrete market. In Louisiana, such companies drew upon possibly the richest and most variegated pool of musical talent in the nation. Even when the Louisiana independents had no more complex a design than uncovering the latest rock'n'roll teen idol in the mold of Elvis Presley, certainly with the national mass market in clear view, they managed to tap an incredible wellspring of creativity. The companies were above all extensions of the personalities and tastes of their owners, entrepreneurs who often served as producers, agents, managers, engineers, distributors, salesmen, publicists, and in some cases, even songwriters and sidemen. From the late 1940s to the present, men like Bill Quinn of Houston, Huey P. Meaux of Winnie, Texas, George Khoury and Carol Rachou of Lafayette, Stan Lewis of Shreveport, Cosirno Matassa of New Orleans, Floyd Soileau of Ville Platte, and, in terms of longevity and sheer output, especially Jay D. Miller of Crowley and Eddie Shuler of Lake Charles were responsible for the most extensive commercial documentation of folk music traditions within a single geographic area in the entire country. The subject deserves more attention than it can be given here; for present purposes only, the activities of Shuler and Miller will be touched upon.

Eddie Shuler formed Goldband Records in Lake Charles in 1949, having moved to the city seven years earlier. From 1942-1945, Shuler had served as vocalist and guitarist with the Hackberry Ramblers. In l945, he formed his own group, the All-Star Reveliers, and also went to work as a disc jockey and announcer for KPLC radio. It was in the latter capacity that Shuler met a young Cajun accordionist from Church Point named Iry Lejeune (Leadbitter and Shuler 1969: 7-9; Shuler interview; Turner 1977).

LeJeune was a musician of incredibly raw power, whose style of playing harked back to the pioneer generation of Amédée Ardoin, probably his chief influence. LeJeune was destined to lead a revival of interest in the traditional Cajun sound, especially accordion music (Leadbitter 1974: 21; Daigle 1972: 86). His earliest recordings were issued on the Houston-based Opera label in 1948. It was as a Goldband artist, however, with songs like "Love Bridge Waltz" and "Lake Charles Special," that LeJeune achieved his greatest popularity. Only his death in a roadside accident in 1954, prevented him from becoming even more widely known. As it was, the "Cajun Hank Williams," as he is sometimes called, left an enduring legacy; he had helped reclaim prestige for Cajun culture and encourage a reawakening of interest in the accordion which continues to the present (Leadbitter 1974: 2l; Turner 1977; Shuler interview).

By 1952, due in large part to the success of Iry Lejeune, Shuler built his first recording studio. Besides Lejeune, he released country records by his own group, the All-Star Reveliers, and then, in 1953, began to branch out into the rhythm and blues market with black artist James Freeman's "Big Leg Mama." Soon thereafter he recorded Boozoo Chavis, who specialized in an exotic-sounding style of music called zodico or zydeco (Leadbitter and Shuler 1969: 12-18). Zydeco was an indigenous south Louisiana sound, described by one writer as in part consisting of a mingling of "Acadian or Afro-American blues tunes placed in an Afro-Caribbean rhythmic framework" (Spitzer 1979: 3). It is perhaps best understood as bearing a similar (though slightly closer) relationship to rhythm and blues as modern Cajun music does to the mainstream country sound. In any event, zydeco, as heard in songs like Boozoo Chavis's 1954 hit on Goldband, "Paper in My Shoe," reflects the cultural syncretisms often found in Louisiana folk music.

Joseph BéBé Carriere of Lawtell, St. Landry Parish, a traditional Creole musician in the film ZYDECO. Photo: Nicholas R. Spitzer.

From the folk style rhythm and blues and zydeco it was only a short step to popular, regional rock'n'roll, and Eddie Shuler eagerly recruited an outstanding lineup of black and white singers who performed in the style forged by Elvis Presley: Gene Terry, Larry Hart, Guitar Jr., Jay Nelson, Billy Earl, Sticks Herman, Al Ferrier (Leadbitter and Shuler 1968: 21). Probably the best of the lot was Ferrier, a native of the Natchitoches area. Ferrier was and is an exceedingly powerful vocalist whose career never quite matched his talent. He has recently recorded for the European label, Sonet Records.

Still it was Cajun music on which Shuler built his reputation. Artists like Leroy Broussard, Sidney Brown, Hobo Bertrand, A1dus Roger. Lionel Cormier, Luderin Darbone, and Lennis Sonnier have provided the bulk of Goldband's sales over the years, in spite of forays into country music,11 rhythm and blues, and rock'n'roll.

J. D. Miller began his recording activities in Crowley in 1946 as an outgrowth of his work as an electrical contractor and appliance store owner. Recognizing the unsatiated postwar demand for Cajun music, Miller soon moved to meet the demands of the local record-buying public. Over the course of better than two decades, he would gain notice as a discoverer and producer of rhythm and blues artists, but his first clients were Cajun and hillbilly performers (Leadbitter 1968: 6-8). The third artist to record for Miller was a young singer from the Mamou vicinity, Jimmie C. Newman. With Newman came substantial local success, and due at least in part to Miller's Nashville connections with the huge Acuff-Rose publishing company and their subsidiary, Hickory Records, eventual national acceptance followed (Bastin liner notes 1981a).

Another possibly more significant figure who first recorded for Miller in 1947 was Al Terry (born Alison Theriot) of Kaplan. Like Newman, Terry had grown up in a small, predominantly French-speaking community. Through access to the recordings of early country music pioneers like Vernon Dalhart and Jimmie Rodgers and the films of Gene Autry, both developed an affinity for musical styles that had little direct connection with Cajun traditions (Terry interview; Bastin liner notes 1981a).

In the early 1950s, Miller followed his successes with Newman and Terry by recording a group from Jennings called the Continental Playboys. Led by three brothers, Pee Wee, Doug, and Rusty Kershaw, the group favored an eclectic repertoire featuring Cajun, hillbilly, and rockabilly tunes. Miller recorded the brothers in several styles, but he eventually settled on a rockabilly approach for Rusty and Doug, who continued their careers after Pee Wee retired from music. Regardless of the prevailing style, the Kershaw brothers generated quite a following in south Louisiana and ultimately in Nashville and the nation at large. Their combined skills marked them as dynamic and original interpreters of Louisiana's folk music traditions (Kershaw interview Kershaw 1971: 18-27; Bastin liner notes 1981b).

Miller entered the rhythm and blues field in 1954 with a release by Otis Hicks ("Lightnin' Slim"). Thereafter, a stream of rhythm and blues talent flowed through Miller's studio. "Lightnin' Slim" was followed in turn by Leslie Johnson ("Lazy Lester"), Lonesome Sundown. Slim Harpo and a superb pianist from Houston, Katie Webster. By the late 1950s, Miller was also producing an astounding array of rock'n'rollers: Terry Clement, Johnny Jano, Al Ferrier, Pee Wee Trahan, Dale Houston, Erwin Babin, Arnold Broussard, Warren Storm, J. P. Richardson (the "Big Bopper"). Over the course of approximately two decades, Miller recorded and released music on a number of labels--Fais Do Do, Feature, Kay, Spot, Action, Zynn, Kajun Classics, Kajun Rocket, Ringo, Tribute, French Hits--in the process documenting the sounds of Louisiana more fully than any individual (Leadbitter 1968: 7-67: Miller interview), Finally, Miller has also gained notoriety as a producer and distributor of mail-order racist records on the Rebel and other labels; even this side of folk-derived music failed to escape his attention.

Each of the other independent producers--Lewis, Rachou, Meaux, Soileau, Matassa--could easily serve as subjects of extended study. Most remain active in the record business, continuing to document, in a commercial fashion, music from Louisiana. Floyd Soileau, in particular, operates a highly successful mail order and retail business in Ville Platte. His Swallow label (and its subsidiaries such as Jin and Maison de Soul) tends to dominate the south Louisiana market (O'Neal 1973; Patoski 1978 and 1979; Bernard 1980; "Cash Register Rings for Record Company," 1974; Broven 1978; Soileau letter).

The most important out of the state company to make extensive use of Louisiana talent, especially Cajun musicians, was California-based Arhoolie Records (see essay this section). Begun in the early 1960s by Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie has featured some of the best performers of the past and present, including Joe Falcon, the Hackberry Ramblers, and Clifton Chenier. The traditional music of the British Florida Parishes is represented in the Arhoolie catalogue by a group called the Louisiana Honeydrippers. Strachwitz has also produced a definitive historical anthology series of Cajun music on 78's (seven volumes as of 1984).

Following the essentially non-commercial, academic course marked out by the Lomaxes in the 1930s was an LSU folklorist named Harry Oster. Oster did extensive field work throughout the state during the 1950s as well as founding the Louisiana Folklore Society. Through a spate of publications and record albums, Oster did more than any academician of his day to preserve, display and interpret the folk music heritage of Louisiana (see essay this volume by F. A. de Caro).

The performers most active in the presentation and preservation of traditional Cajun culture in Louisiana were the Balfa Brothers from Basile. Originally semi-professional musicians who played the south Louisiana dance circuit in the 1940s, the group, led by fiddler Dewey Balfa, became highly visible folk performers as a result of an appearance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and subsequent work with various cultural agencies like the Smithsonian Institution. It was the Balfas, in fact, who persuaded Floyd Soileau to establish his Cajun music-oriented Swallow label (Ancelet 1981; Soileau letter). Following the tragic 1979 death of his brothers, Will and Rodney, Dewey Balfa has continued to crusade for traditional Cajun folk culture.

Cajun musicians (L-R) Allie Young, Dewey Balfa, Dick Richard and Rodney Balfa at the Library of Congress, 1977. Photo: Carl Fleischhauer, courtesy American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

In radio one postwar development overshadowed all others--the establishment of a KWKH radio and stage show known as the Louisiana Hayride. Begun in 1948, the Hayride in its heyday could claim a roster of talent second to none, including the more publicized Grand Ole Opry. Not surprisingly, the artists who gave the show its reputation as the "Cradle of the Stars" represented almost the entire spectrum of "Anglo-American folk song style and its modern derivatives. Among the dozens of important performers associated at one time or another with the Shreveport program were Hank Williams, its first great star; the Bailes Brothers, exemplars of the religious song tradition; Kitty Wells, the original "Queen of Country Music"; Charlie Monroe, brother of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe; comedian Cousin Wilbur, an heir to the minstrel and medicine show traditions; possibly the preeminent brother duo in country music history, the Blue Sky Boys; blind singer-composer Leon Payne; smooth-voiced crooner Jim Reeves; singing cowgirl Patsy Montana; yodeler Slirn Whitman; hillbilly boogie virtuosos, the Maddox Brothers and Rose; Red Sovine, who became best known for his recordings of truck-driving songs; honky-tonk stylist George Jones; Johnny Horton, the master of the saga song; and, of course, Elvis Presley, Among Louisiana natives who made their breakthrough on the Hayride were Clyde Baum, Margie Singleton, Werley Fairburn, Claude King, Merle Kilgore, David Houston, Floyd Cramer, James Burton, Jerry Kennedy, Faron Young, Buddy Attaway, Jimmie C. Newman and Webb Pierce. Certainly a key element in the show's success was the professional staff headed by producer-announcer Horace Logan and aided by top announcers like Ray Bartlett and Frank Page, who actually put the Hayride together. For approximately ten years, from 1948 to 1958, the Louisiana Hayride was a focal point for country music enthusiasts and performers in the Southwest and across the nation. Not the least of the program's legacies was its role showcase for rockabilly performers, beginning with Elvis (Tucker 1977; Logan interview).

The rockabilly phenomenon represented much more than a threat to other musical styles; it was a synthesis of various traditions, most importantly rhythm and blues and country music. Elvis was a true catalyst for the new sound; his stint on the Louisiana Hayride helped focus attention on Shreveport and the rest of Louisiana. The state rested in the center of the mid-South region which, with its imaginary boundaries at Lubbock, Texas on the west and Jackson, Tennessee on the east (the homes of Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins, respectively), also formed the heartland of rockabilly music. Included within the area were the hometowns of most of the artists who gave shape to the controversial style. Louisiana alone contributed such key figures in the movement as Dale Hawkins (Shreveport), Jimmy Clanton (Baton Rouge), Bobby Charles (Abbeville), Roy "Boogie Boy Perkins" Suarez (Lafayette), and Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley (Ferriday). Hayride alumni who either flirted with or wholly embraced rock'n'roll included Merle Kilgore, George Jones, Sonny James, Faron Young, Bob Luman and Tommy Sands. As mentioned previously, the studios of Miller and Shuler produced some of the most dynamic performers in the field: Al Ferrier, Terry Clement, Johnny Jano, Rusty and Doug Kershaw, J. P. Richardson. Three latter-day artists who clearly showed direct rockabilly influence were Johnny Rivers of Baton Rouge, Tony Joe White of Oak Grove, and Joe Stampley of Springhill. James Burton went from the Louisiana Hayride to Los Angeles where he played lead guitar in turn for Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, and Merle Haggard. Another Louisiana native to gain a measure of success in Los Angeles was Opelousas native Gib Guilbeau, who figured in the creation of country-rock during the late 1960s.

Entire cast, Louisiana Hayride, 1955. Louisiana Secretary of State: Archives Division.

Of all the Louisiana natives to emerge in the wake of Elvis Presley, the most renowned talent was Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis's individualistic piano style (derived in part from great Louisiana boogie and blues pianists like Little Brother Montgomery, who once lived in Ferriday, and country pianists Merrill Moore and Moon Mullican, and catalyzed by a constant exposure and immersion in Pentecostal religion), his visceral personality, his unsurpassed repertoire, all marked him as a unique artist and synthesizer of folk tradition. If one characteristic of the great musicians from Louisiana (Leadbelly, Jimmie Davis, Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Doug Kershaw) stands out, it is an eclectic temperament which feeds upon the various folk musical traditions found in the state, which in turn produces an intensely personal performance style. Certainly Jerry Lee Lewis epitomizes such a process.

If any one Louisiana city or community can legitimately claim to have been involved in the creation of rock'n'roll, it was, of course, New Orleans. The New Orleans story has been detailed by at least one writer, John Broven, who traced the recorded contributions of most of the city's great rhythm and blues and rock'n'roll artists, a list that would have to include Professor Longhair (Henry Roeland Byrd), Roy Brown, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Little Richard, Lee Dorsey, Jessie Hill, Frankie Ford, Tommy Ridgely, Ernie K-Doe (Kador), Allen Toussaint, Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) and the Neville Brothers. Certainly the city's role as a center for rhythm and blues and rock'n'roll compares favorably to its more popular perceived status as the birthplace of jazz.

Louisiana's folk heritage as a source of musical activity has generated more attention in recent years than at any previous time. Commercial instate record companies and labels like Goldband, Jin, Swallow, La Louisiane, Paula and Caillier, along with other national and international labels such as Arhoolie, and, especially, Flyright and Sonet, are quite active in issuing and reissuing a myriad of recordings which feature almost every style which has developed in the state within the last six decades. Country music, of course, has become a national mania, and Louisiana has remained fertile ground, producing such recent stars as Mickey Gilley and Joe Stampley. Cajun music is more popular than ever. It would be accurate to say that more Cajun music is available on records than at any time in the past. Harry Oster's groundbreaking work of the 1950s has been carried on by collectors, field workers, and producers like Chris Strachwitz, Samuel Charters, Gerard Dole, and Nicholas Spitzer. The Louisiana Folklife Society in cooperation with the State Folklife Program has recently produced three initial albums illustrative of the blues and hillbilly traditions.

Photo of Huey (Piano) Smith and The Clowns album on Ace Records and Preston Guilbeau and The Playboys on Maison Soul.

In radio, the picture is much the same. A growing proportion of programming is being devoted to the exploration of traditional music. According to a recent survey, French-language programs, most presenting music, can be heard in sixteen Louisiana cities, amounting to approximately one hundred hours of airtime per week (Grame 1980). Of special note are the remote broadcasts of Revon Reed's programs from Mamou over Eunice's station KEUN. College and public broadcasting stations are some of the most reliable sources for broadcasting folk music. One of the latest to enter the field is WWOZ-FM of New Orleans, with regular programs which explore in remarkable detail various indigenous styles and substyles. Among country music programs, the Louisiana Hayride stands out. The show is presently syndicated to thirteen radio stations throughout the region.

In sum, the opportunities for experiencing the state's rich musical heritage through the media of recordings and radio are quite numerous, even to an unprecedented degree. One need not pine in antiquarian angst for the good old tunes played in the good old ways. The traditions live on, entwining one with the other in unpredictable ways, creating new sounds, but with powerful echoes from the past.


1. There will be no attempt made in the ensuing discussion to fully define such terms as "folk," "popular, "pre-commercial" or "commercial." It is hoped that their meanings will become clear as various contexts within the essay emerge. One should note that the terms "media documentation" and "commercial exploitation" will be used synonymously.

2. The best introduction to the literature of Southern folk music and its commercial extensions is found in Malone 1979: 164-190.

3. Most of the following narrative and analysis focuses on the commercial country music tradition. The terms "hillbilly" and "country" will be used interchangeably.

4. The Shelton Brothers appeared regularly on numerous other radio stations including WSB, Atlanta; WWL, New Orleans; and WFAA, Dallas. For a necessarily superficial review of their complex careers, see my forthcoming essay on the history of country music in Louisiana.

5. Unless otherwise noted, the following discussion of blues recordings made in Louisiana is taken from Godrich and Dixon 1969 and 1970.

6. Tosches does not indicate the location of the catalogue. He misidentifies the address of the company as "128 Cravier Street." The correct address, according to Soards' New Orleans City Directory, 1892, was 218 Gravier Street. This directory also identifies the company's officers.

7. There is no equivalent discographical study of country or Cajun music to the works of Godrich and Dixon. Tony Russell is currently working on a comprehensive discography of country music before World War II, of which some preliminary sections have been produced, notably relating to Jimmie Davis and the Shelton Brothers. There are literally dozens of discographies concerning specific artists scattered throughout the literature. Richard K. Spottswood has begun a major discographical study of ethnic recordings from 1895 to 1942.

8. Townsend 1976; Tosches 1977; and Malone 1980 have all discussed the problem.

9. Leadbelly continued his association with the Lomaxes for several years and made numerous subsequent field trips with them.

10. Jimmie Davis was the central figure on the Shreveport folk music scene at least until his election as governor in 1944. He was, after Jimmie Rodgers, the first country artist to record with black musicians. Besides Woods, Davis was often backed by an excellent guitarist named Ed Shaffer.

11. Among the performers who have recorded on Goldband at various times are Dolly Parton, Freddy Fender, and Mickey Gilley.

Recordings, Radio Transcripts and Tapes

"Bon Cher Camarade." National Public Radio. Produced by Deborah Lamberton and Nicholas R. Spitzer. 1980. Tape in possession of author.

"Ralph Emery Show." Featuring Jerry Lee Lewis. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville, June 21-25, 1971. Transcriptions.

_____. Featuring Joe Stampley. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville, November 20-24, 1972. Transcriptions.

Ethnic Music of French Louisiana, the Spanish Southwest, and the Bahamas. Library of Congress AFS L5. Brochure notes by Wayne D. Shirley and Alan Lomax.

"Pat Flory Old Time Music Program." Featuring Louisiana country music. WWOZ-FM, New Orleans, July 4, 1981. Tape in possession of author.

Jerry's Saloon Blues. Flyright Matchbox LP260. Brochure notes by Paul Oliver, 1978.

Jimmy C. Newman and Al Terry. Flyright LP573. Liner notes by Bruce Bastin, 1981.

Louisiana Cajun Music, Volume I. Old Timey 108. Liner notes by Chris Strachwitz, 1970.

Louisiana Cajun Music, Volume V. Old Timey 114. Liner notes by Chris Strachwitz, 1973.

Louisiana Hayride Demonstration Tape. Produced by David Kent. In possession of author.

Rusty and Doug Kershaw with Wiley Barkdull. Flyright LP571. Liner notes by Bruce Bastin. Legendary Jay Miller Sessions, Volume22, 198lb.

"Saturday Night Country Style." Number 10, part 2. Transcription made for the U. S. Armed Forces Radio Network, ca. 1957. Nashville, Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center.

Western Swing, Volume IV. Old Timey 119. Liner notes by Tony Russell.

Western Swing, Volume V. Old Timey 120. Liner notes by Tony Russell.


Bailes, Homer. Personal interview (taped), Roanoke, Louisiana, October 9, 1976.

Bruner, Cliff. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (taped), League City, Texas, June l9, 1976.

Beatty, David. Personal interview (taped), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, June 10, 1980.

Daffan, Ted. Personal interview with Dorothy Gable, Nashville, Tennessee, January 31, 1968. Transcribed by Douglas B. Green. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville.

_____. "Nick Tosches Interviews Ted Daffan," Old Time Music, Autumn 1978, pp. 6-8.

Darbone, Luderin. Telephone interview, February 10, 1981.

Davis, Jimmie. Personal interview (taped), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, February 12, 1980.

DeRamus, Troy. Personal interview, Ferriday, Louisiana, May 22, 1981.

Flory, Patrick, Personal interview, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 30, 1980.

Ford, Brownie. Personal interviews, Ferriday, Louisiana, May 22 and 23, 1981.

Franks, Tillman. Telephone interview, November 24, 1976.

Grimsley, Tex. Personal interview, Natchitoches, Louisiana, July 18, 1981.

Guilbeau, Gib. Personal interview, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25, 1981.

Howard, Paul. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (taped), Shreveport, Louisiana, July 26, l974.

Kershaw, Doug. Personal interview (taped), New Orleans, Louisiana, November 20, 1979.

_____. Telephone interview with Bob Battle (taped), Nashville, Tennessee, January 27, 1978. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville.

LeBlanc, Leroy."Happy Fats." Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (field notes), Rayne, Louisiana, June 22, 1974.

Logan, Horace. Personal interview (taped), Monroe, Louisiana, August 22, l981.

Menard, D. L. Personal interview, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 14, 1981.

Miller, J. D. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (field notes), Crowley, Louisiana. June 24, 1974.

Page, Frank. Telephone interview, November 30, 1976.

Pierce, Webb. Personal interview (taped), Nashville, Tennessee, April 30, 1981.

_____. Personal interview with Bob Battle (taped), Nashville, Tennessee, September 4, 1976. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville.

Pitre, Austin. Personal interview, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 14, 1981.

Rice, Paul. Telephone interview, October 30, 1980.

Shelton, Joe. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (taped), Yantis, Texas, July 31, 1974.

Shuler, Eddie. Personal interview, Natchitoches, Louisiana, July 18, 1981.

Singleton, Margie. Telephone interview, April 30, 1981.

Soileau, Floyd. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (field notes), Ville Platte, Louisiana, June 15, 1974.

Soileau, Leo. Personal interview with Bill C. Malone (field notes), Ville Platte, Louisiana, June 15, 1974.

Sullivan, Bob. Personal interviews (taped), Dallas, Texas, April 10 and 18, 1974. Oral History Collection for the Performing Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

Swaggart, Jimmy. Personal interview (taped), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, April 30, 1980.

Terry, Al. Personal interview (taped), Lafayette, Louisiana, October l7, 1980.

_____. Personal interviews with Bill C. Malone (field notes), Lafayette, Louisiana, July 20, l973 and June 15, 1974.

York, Lum. Personal interview (taped), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 6, l979.


Bailes, Johnnie. June 2, 1980.

Bernard, Wade. to Bill C. Malone, July 15, 1976.

Franks, Tillman. to Robert Shelton, March 26, 1978. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center, Nashville.

Pinson, Bob. January l1, 1980.

Russell, Tony. March 18 and May 29, 1980.

Shuler, Eddie. July 27, 1981.

Soileau, Floyd. October 9, 1980.

Smith, Tiny. January 5, 1977.

Terry, Al. to Bill C. Malone, August 25, 1975.

Books, Articles and Unpublished

Acadian Bicentennial Celebration Association. Our Acadian Heritage, Let's Keep It! Baton Rouge, 1955.

"Advertisements for the Louisiana Hayride."

Shreveport Times, March 5, 1948; April 1, 1948; September 22, 1956.

_____. Shreveport Journal, April 15, 1949; May 26, 1951.

Allen, Bob."The Guitar-Shaped Adventures of Webb Pierce." Country Music. October 1980: 52-54.

American Folk Music Occasional. 2(1970).

Ancelet, Barry Jean."Dewey Balfa: Cajun Music Ambassador." Louisiana Life. September October 1981: 78-85.

Bane, Michael."Joe Stampley: Singer." Country Music. May 1976: 31-32ff.

Bellcase, Gordon,"Governors' Mansions, Halls of Fame, and Streets of Gold." Typescript. Nashville. Country Music Foundation Library and Media Center. n.d.

Bernard, Ryan."The Cajuns." Houston City. October 1980: 40-46ff.

Beyer, James E. Baton Rouge Blues. Baton Rouge Arts and Humanities Council/Louisiana Division of the Arts, 1980.

Brandon, Elizabeth."The Socio-Cultural Traits of the French Folksong in Louisiana." Louisiana Review. 1(1972): 19-39.

Broven, John. Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans. Pelican, New Orleans, 1978.

Cain, Robert. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.: Jerry Lee Lewis. Dial, New York, 1981.

Carney, George O, "Country Music and the Radio: A Historical Geographic Assessment." Rocky Mountain Social Science Journal. 11(1974): 19-32.

_____. "Spatial Diffusion of the All Country Music Radio Station in the United States, 1971-1974." John Edwards Memorial Foundation Quarterly. 13(1977): 58-66.

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