Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Cher Bassette - Balfa Brothers

Rusty's waltz wednesday presents: Cher Bassette, by the Balfa Brothers

Wellsir, I didn't waltzwendesday last week, but fear not, I am returned.

In this early stage, I feel as if this blog and its loyal readership is a little fragile, like Rome in the whhhhhhhisper speech by Marcus Aurelius in the Gladiator (Richard Harris co-starring Rusty Crowe's best role ever).

But fear not, for if I ever abandon this project - due to lack of interest, or lack of waltzes - I will surely let you know.
On to today's waltz:

Balfa Brothers:

The Balfa Brothers were a traditional Cajun band headed by Dewey Balfa playing fiddle and singing, along with his brothers Will, Rodney, and Harry on fiddles, guitars, and triangle and Hadley Fonetnot on accordion. They brought their "chanky-chank" to the attention of the greater American - and world - public during the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, best described here:

It's a rare thing to be able to point to one event as changing the course of a culture's history, but in the case of Cajun culture, Dewey Balfa's participation in the 1964 Newport Folk Festival was pivotal. That year, in the midst of a revival of American public interest in folk and regional culture, folklorist and traditional music promoter Ralph Rinzler (who later went on to found the Smithsonian Folklife Festival) invited a Cajun group to perform at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival. Dewey actually went to the Rhode Island festival as a guitarist—a last minute replacement in an ensemble that included the great Cajun accordionists Gladius Thibodeaux and Louis "Venesse" Lejeune. To their amazement, rather than laughing at them, the largely urban audience of 17, 000 went wild. As Dewey recalled many years later:
"I had played in house dances, family gatherings, maybe a dance hall where you might have seen as many as 200 people at once. In fact, I doubt I had ever seen 200 people at once. And in Newport, there were 17,000. Seventeen thousand people who wouldn't let us get off stage."

The song:

Alright well Mardi Gras passed us by last month, and with it the beginning of Tim Horton's the Roll Up the Rim to Win season (this post is sponsored by Tim Horton's family restaurants), and I didn't get to post any cajun tunes. Which reminds me, my friend Collin has a project making beautiful old-timey Mardi Gras costumes. I think they'll be an esthetic reminder - if less creepy - of HBO's recent miniseries True Detective.

The cajun triangle lays down the 1-2-3 in this song clear as day (reminder: what's a waltz). Dewey Balfa comes into the song in his yell-singing voice, all full of remorse for his lost Bassette. The melody sections are played by two fiddles, which is typical for cajun tunes. There might be an accordion in there, but I can't hear it well if so.

Before listening to Dewey Balfa sing, I'd never heard Cajun French. I suppose I didn't know what to expect, but was surprised to hear similarity to french spoken over here in Quebec. I'll put the lyrics below the song for your consideration. Enjoy!


Chère Bassette, ayoù toi t'es?
Moi j'peux pu de te r' trouver
Quoi moi j'fais, tu t'en r' viens pas à la maison, bébé

Chère Bassette, quoi c'est t'as fait?
T'as cassé, ouais, not' ménage
Pour t'en aller si loin d'moi avec ein autre

Tu connais moi j'ai du r'gret
J'ai du r'gret pour tout ça moi j't'ai fait
Pardonne-moi, viens-t'en donc à la maison, chère

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