Goldband Records: Genres
Cajun music combines elements of American Indian, Scotch-Irish, Spanish, German, Anglo-American and Afro-Caribbean musics with Western French folk traditions. It is associated with the Acadians, French Colonists who settled at Port Royal, Acadia (in eastern Canada), starting in 1604. Due to political and religious tensions, local British authorities ousted the Acadians in 1755. About ten years later, Acadians arrived in Louisiana, determined to recreate their society. There, they engaged in across-cultural exchange, absorbing and consolidating the preexisting musical styles mentioned above to produce a unique new Louisiana-based community, the Cajuns, with its own Cajun music. This quickly became the dominant culture and music of South Louisiana.
In the late 19th century, German-Jewish immigrants began importing diatonic accordions to America, and these instruments became part of the Cajun sound. As the 20th century began, black Creoles brought a strong, rural blues element to Cajun music. By the 1930s and 40s, radio (and later, television) favored a "slick" sound that forced the more traditional or rough-hewn music to the margins. The accordion faded away as "Americanized" Cajuns added electric steel guitars and drums to their lineups. But by the late 1940s, a revival of sorts returned the accordion--and old-style playing--to prominence.
Among Goldband's Cajun artists are Jo-El Sonnier, Cleveland Crochet, Robert Bertrand, Mel "Luv Bug" Pellerin, and the great Iry LeJune.
Zydeco music has evolved in Louisiana over the past 150 years, and has been influenced by Cajun, Afro-American, and Afro-Caribbean cultures. It is a fast, syncopated dance music that reflects the multicultural and multiracial qualities of the Creole population on the French Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana to southeast Texas. Although Louisiana language, foods, folk beliefs and some forms of music can be traced to West Indian influences, Zydeco music did not exist in the French West Indies. It is a form of music unique to Louisiana which resulted from contact between Cajuns and Black Creoles in the area.
Although there has been much cultural interchange between Cajuns and Creoles in southwest Louisiana, zydeco melodies are played faster than those in Cajun music. They consist of Acadian or Afro-American blues tunes placed in an Afro-Caribbean rhythmic framework. While the accordion has been a part of Zydeco music since being introduced by German immigrants in the late 1800s,it is rhythm and blues and soul music that have had the greatest influence.
The word Zydeco is thought to be a creolized form of the French les haricots (snapbeans), and Zydeco music is thought to take its name from a dance tune in Creole and Cajun traditions called Les Haricots Sont Pas Sales (The Snapbeans Are Not Salted).
Among Goldband's Zydeco artists are Thaddus DeClouet, Jay Shutes, and Boozoo Chavis.
In the 1890s, blues emerged as a musical form unique to the black communities in the Southern and border states. It particularly reflected the experiences of African-Americans on large plantations, such as those found on the Mississippi Delta, and in industries that required heavy manual labor. Blues reflected not only the social isolation and lack of formal training of its creators, but their ability to survive under adverse, oppressive conditions.
But although "the blues" might suggest otherwise, the music encompassed not just songs of loneliness and hardship, but also good time tunes for groups. The music tended to be played at house parties, juke joints, outdoor dances and in other informal and upbeat settings.
As blues spread in the early 20th century, local and regional performance traditions developed in different parts of the South. In the Mississippi Valley and adjacent areas like Louisiana, the folk blues had intense rhythmic and emotional components, and was considered by some to be more modal and less emotional components, and was considered by some to be more modal and less harmonic in conception than elsewhere.
Goldband's blues artists include Hop Wilson, Juke Boy Bonier, Big Chenier, and Katie Webster.
Country music originated in the folk culture of the South, drawing largely from British influences but also from those of Europe and Africa. Early country music was social in nature and performed at house parties, corn shuckings, fish fries and similar gatherings, as well as at more organized venues like Vaudeville shows or fiddle contests.
Country music was, and to some extent continues to be, grounded in the southern working class. It deals in conflicting desires: for the comforts of home as well as the excitement of rambling, towards puritanism as well as rough and rowdy ways. Some consider country musicians from South-central states like Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma to have been more innovative and less conservative than country musicians from the Southeast, who relied on more traditional old-time songs and ballads.
The establishment of radio stations in the south after 1920 further "professionalized" the performers, and also developed country music as an industry. In the 1930s, live radio programming was in its heyday, and country performers seemed to be everywhere. In Shreveport, Louisiana, the 50,000 watt "clear channel" station KWKH --like Nashville's WSM and Chicago's WLS--played a crucial role in the dissemination of country music to an even larger audience. Radio exposure led to public appearances and the need for a new entity known as "the booking agent."
Following World War II, country music experienced a great commercial boom. New record labels proliferated, new "barn dance" programs like the Louisiana Hayride competed with The Grand Old Opry, and jukeboxes further popularized country songs. Out of Elvis Presley's success in the 1950s, a new style of "country pop" emerged which tended towards a mainstream appeal. Today, country continues to possess a mainstream appeal, but the growth of alternative country ("alt-country") music is rejuvenating the industry.
Among Goldband's South Louisiana country performers are Eddie Shuler and his All Star Reveliers.
Rockabilly is a hybrid of country or hillbilly music and rhythm and blues. Identified by its rebellious attitude, driving back beat, and hiccuping vocals, rockabilly emerged in Memphis with Elvis Presley's recordings for Sam Phillips' Sun Records. Rockabilly's original burst of popularity ended in the 1950s as many leading performers moved on to either country music or other forms of rock. Other performers who continued performing rockabilly found themselves marginalized and drifted into obscurity. Rockabilly's style, attitude and sound refuses to die and has informed each new generation of rockers and produced periodic revivals. Goldband Records recorded a number of rockabilly songs by artists including Al Ferrier, Dolly Parton, Larry Hart and Gabe Dean.
ROCK AND ROLL
Rock and roll exploded in the 1950s as a powerful new force in music. It was influenced by various sources of American music including blues, R&B, country, pop, jazz, folk and gospel. Rock in its earliest forms was identified by its simple blues-based structure, catchy melodies and danceable beat. Its first wave of musicians included Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers who created a standard template from which the music has expanded and developed with each new wave of musicians. Eddie Shuler and Goldband Records recorded a number of early rock and roll songs including "Cindy Lou" and "Lets Go Boppin Tonight."
Swamp pop emerged as a regional style in south Louisiana and southeast Texas in the early 1950s, and was hugely popular up through the mid-1960s. A rhythm and blues hybrid, the music represents a convergence of many influences, including New Orleans rhythm and blues, country and western, Cajun, and Creole music. According to author Shane Bernard, swamp pop was similar to rockabilly in that it drew heavily on its local culture for inspiration and source material. Swamp pop musicians also tended to record with their own bands for a home-grown sound, rather than using the studio session musicians that characterized New Orleans R&B. The description "swamp pop" was actually introduced to the region in the late 1970s by English music writer John Broven, who in turn credits fellow Englishman Bill Millar with coining the term. Swamp pop slowly began to lose ground in the mid-1960s as the British rock invasion gained in popularity.
Goldband Records was centrally involved in the swamp pop scene. Eddie Shuler arranged and produced the ballad "Sea of Love" by Lake Charles' Phil Phillips for neighbor George Khoury's label. Destined to become a classic swamp pop song, "Sea of Love" sold over two million copies in 1959, and climbed to #2 in the U.S. pop charts. Shuler didn't have such good fortune with Cookie and the Cupcakes, who recorded for Goldband as "The Boogie Ramblers" in 1955. Although he tried to get them back in the studio, Shuler knew it was hopeless once he heard their hit "Mathilda" on the radio in 1958. Cookie and the Cupcakes continued to record a number of swamp pop classics up through 1965, including "Belinda," "Betty and Dupree," and "Got You on My Mind." Eddie Shuler also produced swamp pop recordings including "Family Rules" by Guitar Jr. for Goldband.
RHYTHM AND BLUES
Rhythm and blues evolved as a hybrid of blues and big band jazz in the mid-1940s. As Jazz moved away from dance-oriented music, "jump" blues, the first popular style of rhythm and blues, moved in to take its place on the dance floor. Jump blues featured economized versions of swing bands, utilizing swing rhythms, horn sections, blues riffs and chord structures. Emphasis was placed on the songs rather than improvisation. Rhythm and blues didn't receive its moniker until the fifties when Billboard staff member Jerry Wexler coined the term. Wexler went on to become an A&R man for Atlantic Records and helped shape the music, making it more appealing to pop listeners and teenagers.
Goldband Records recorded a number of R&B artists including Count Rockin' Sidney.
© 2000, The Southern Folklife Collection