Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Big Ol' Ay-EEE!

Category: News

"ICMC is the only organization to acknowledge this," Kevin Fontenot said ruefully at the beginning of the keynote address he and Ryan Brasseaux presented at the International Country Music Conference on Thursday evening.

"This" is the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the recording of "Allons a Lafayette" (commonly called just "Lafayette"), Joe Falcon (pronounced "falc-OWN") and Cleoma Breaux's song from April 27, 1928 that is universally recognized as the first recording in Cajun music.

Why is this important? For starters, there would have been no "Down at the Twist and Shout" by Mary-Chapin Carpenter or "Tear Stained Letter" by Jo-El Sonnier. The first record ever broadcast from space would have been something other than Doug Kershaw's "Louisiana Man," because Cajun would not exist. Far above that, however, it is important for any genre to recognize its heritage. The first recording of Cajun music is just as important as the recording of "Sally Gooden" by Eck Robertson in 1922 is to country music or "Rocket 88" is to rock and roll.

Fontenot said he begged the New Orleans Jazz Festival to do something to acknowledge the 80th anniversary of "Lafayette." No one in Louisiana was interested, however, which is puzzling given Cajun music's unbreakable bond to the state.

The two authors gave a presentation that included a biography of Joe Falcon (September 28, 1900 - November 19, 1965) and his wife, Cleoma Breaux (May 27, 1906 - April 9, 1941) and samples of their music. The ground-breaking recording was played, of course. There is nothing quite as awe-inspiring for a fan of music to listen to historical recordings.

Fontenot and Brasseaux have published numerous works on Cajun music individually and collectively, including Accordions, Fiddles, Two-Step & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader (2006). Brasseaux has a book, Cajun Breakdown, due out next year.

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