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|Milton J. Adams, who passed away in early
July 2002, was an old time traditional Cajun singer and accordion player who
continued to perform occasionally until suffering a stroke. He was born October 26, 1918,
in Kaplan, where he continued to live throughout his life. According to the biographical
sketch offered by Northwestern State University, his father, Elty Polite Adams,
taught him to play at age 10 and by age 12 he was already playing house dances. The notes
on the cassette Milton Adams Plays Traditional Cajun Music, released by Swallow
Records, add that he had eight uncles who played music, including seven who played
Despite his interest in music, Adams did not start performing in dance halls on weekends until he was 25. Like almost all Cajun musicians from his era, he also had a regular job, working in the oilfields and as a carpenter.
As he grew older, Milton Adams and the Midnight Playboys no longer performed in dance halls, but in recent years up until his illness Adams on occasion played at festivals around the country.
For decades, he shared his skills with younger musicians, including, for example, Wayne Toups, who, according to the NSU sketch, "would come to Adams' home to play traditional Cajun music before his feet could touch the floor from his chair." On the night Adams performed at the Liberty Theater in spring 2000, he was accompanied on stage by a young accordion player whom he had been helping.
The cassette Milton Adams Plays Traditional Cajun Music, recorded live at the University of Chicago Folk Festival in 1992, also features Hubert Maitre on guitar and Leo Abshire on fiddle. The cassette includes favorites like "J'ai passé devant ta porte," "Chère tout toute," "Jolie blonde," "Les flames d'enfer," "Kaplan Waltz," and "Drunkard's Dream," among others, as well as "Midnight Playboys Special."
On their 2000 CD Sam's Big Rooster, The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band perform the tune "Two-Step Pour Milton Adams," written by Marc Savoy as a tribute to a musician who "is directly responsible for a major part of the survival of Cajun accordion music."
.The pictures on this page were taken in the Liberty Theater in Eunice during spring 2000.
|All photographs and text by David Simpson.