Last night I noticed a comp of early cajun music being spotlighted on WFMU's "Beware Of The Blog", and when I took a look at it, all I could think was....I've got something much much better than that.
This is a collection of Cleoma Breaux recordings I put together several years ago and then posted on another blog.
Cleoma Breaux Falcon was more or less "the mother" of recorded cajun music, in fact the first female inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. She played, along with her then husband-to-be, Joe Falcon, on what is generally considered to be the first cajun record. This was in 1928.
At the time I decided to put this collection together, I couldn't see that anyone had bothered to gather her recordings before, not in a comprehensive way. Usually, she's lumped in with her husband, when she was absolutely a major regional recording artist in her own right. But more than that, the band she grew up playing with before her marriage were the fabulous Breaux Freres. and her father was the legendary [unrecorded] accordion player Auguste Breaux.
My point being that Cleoma can be viewed as central to a musical clan, and that her role within that clan, musically speaking, is often more obscured than need be. Her brothers recorded with her and her husband after she was married, she at times recorded with her brothers without him. And she played the guitar with both, which in those days was the rhythm instrument. Now, the way she plays may sound ham-handed to modern ears, but it's to be remembered that there was no such thing as amplification in those days, and these were dance bands. The only other "percussive" instrument used at that time was a triangle.
Initially, my thought was to only gather the recordings on which Cleoma sang, but as I got into the project, I thought....why not include those songs on which she also played guitar?.....and even, why not include the work of what was once her family band even if it's unclear if she's playing at that moment?...in short, why not put Cleoma at the center of it all, just this once. Ya know, just this one time, let's give her what's due.
There were problems. First, the availability of recordings...as far as I can tell [I have a fairly accurate discography] there are at least 12 recordings missing. Secondly, where to draw the line with the Breaux Freres. Cleoma died in 1941. Whereas Joe Falcon refused to record after her death [bless his heart], the Breaux Freres, together and separately, continued to record after that time.
Thus I can't say this collection is either totally complete or even 100% correct, but I gotta tell ya....after several years, I've yet to find another obvious Cleoma Breaux recording to add to the mix. I don't remember where all of these recordings came from, but I do know that some are direct from the 78's.
And ya know what? Even if all these songs are all available on comps at this point, I've still yet to see anyone put them together in this form. As far as I know, this is the most complete collection available of recordings by the Falcon/Breaux clan up to Cleoma's death.
Just my way of saying thanks to all of you for stopping by, commenting, sending me emails, and in general being so very kind. To those of you in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving. To those of you elsewhere, my best wishes. I thought I'd put this up now in case I don't have time to do so over the next couple of days.
I call it, "C'est Pour Cleoma", I hope ya'll find it as interesting as I did putting it together. Truly a labor of love.