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Monday, 16 November 2015

Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin born 16 November 1916


Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin (November 16, 1915 – May 16, 2007) was a Creole accordionist who specialized in Cajun music (called "la la music" or "la musique Creole") and was influential in what became zydeco music. His album "La Musique Creole," was the first ever recorded by an African American Cajun band.
Alphonse Ardoin was born in 1915 in rural Duralde, La., the son of sharecroppers, and he worked on farms all his life. As a child, he was nicknamed Bois Sec (“dry wood”), because he had a reputation for being the first in the cotton fields to seek shelter during Louisiana’s sudden downpours.
Mr. Ardoin took up the button accordion, an instrument that had a family tradition. His cousin Amédé Ardoin made pioneering recordings of French Creole music with the fiddler Dennis McGee. Alphonse Ardoin took up the accordion and learned his cousin’s style, in part by playing triangle in Amédé’s band. According to Michael Tisserand’s book “The Kingdom of Zydeco,” Alphonse told his cousin, “It won’t be long until I catch up with you.”
But music remained a sideline until the 1940s, when he started working regularly with Mr. Fontenot. As the Duralde Ramblers, they played at dances and parties and on a live radio show broadcast from Eunice. Their reputation spread so widely that they were booked at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. On the way back south from the festival, they stopped in Virginia and recorded their first album, “Les Blues du Bayou,” which was later reissued by Arhoolie as “La Musique Creole.”
 
  Here's "La Robe Barree" (The striped dress) from above album. 


As the old Creole style was replaced by zydeco on the dance-hall circuit, Mr. Ardoin and Mr. Fontenot took their music to folk festivals and concerts worldwide. In the 1970s, Mr. Ardoin added his sons Morris, Lawrence and Gustave to his group, which became the Ardoin Family Orchestra. They made a number of recordings, and appeared in two films, Dry Wood (1973) and J'ai Été Au Bal (1989). He retired from the music business after the death of one of his sons, Gustave, in 1974, but returned a few years later.
He also recorded and performed with the Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa and later with a younger generation of Creole traditionalists, notably Balfa Toujours, led by Dewey’s daughter Christine, with whom he made the 1998 album “Allons Danser.” And through the years, Mr. Ardoin’s songs made their way into the repertory of zydeco bands and traditionalist groups like Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.
For five decades, Alphonse Ardoin worked regularly with the fiddler Canray Fontenot, trading quick-fingered passages on some of the oldest known Creole tunes and infusing Cajun waltzes with the blues. English speakers sometimes called the style “la la music,” but it was known by its players simply as “la musique Creole.”
Eventually, the Creole waltzes and two-steps would be punched up, plugged in and fused with rhythm and blues, creating the zydeco music that still fills South Louisiana dance halls. In 1986, Mr. Ardoin and Mr. Fontenot (who died in 1995) both received from the National Endowment for the Arts the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest American award for traditional arts.

Bois Sec’s wife Marcelene predeceased him, and  in his latter days he lived in a nursing home in Eunice, Louisiana where on Wednesday, May 16, 2007 he died at the age of 91 of natural causes.
(Info edited from various sources mainly the Music And Culture blog & Wikipedia)

Here's a clip of Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec Ardoin when they were young.

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

I have "La Musique Creole" album if requested.