Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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  Andrew Cormier

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In the 1940's, Cajuns moved to East Texas cities like Port Arthur and other towns to work in war-time related industries or other industrial plants and associated businesses that sprang up with the post-war economic boom. They brought their language and their culture with them, leading to the establishment of now legendary dance halls like the Blue Jean Club in Nederland, the B.O. Sparkle Club in Bridge City, Club 73 in Winnie, and the Rodair Club in Port Arthur.

When Andrew Cormier left Church Point in his late teens to move to Texas, he brought his accordion with him. He joined the Teamsters and became a trucker, but, according to the CFMA biography, he spent his weekends performing with his band, Andrew Cormier and the Rambling Aces, playing at clubs throughout the region, including the Rodair Club.

Tina Pilione has produced a CD of a live recording from one of those performances in 1987, featuring dance hall standards that remain popular today. The Rodair Club closed May 15, 2004, and most of the other old Cajun dance halls have also vanished, with bands now more typically playing in restaurants. But you can hear what it was like, with Cormier announcing the songs, the band members shouting out and calling to one another, and the songs producing the classic rhythms to keep the dancers moving smoothly around the floor (or accelerating, as in the "Hathaway Two-Step," the Cajun version of the Freeze).

Other numbers include "Chère toute toute," "Lafayette Two-Step," "Tits yeuxs noirs," "La valse de cherokee," "La valse des musiciens" "Rock 'n' Roll Tonight" (in English), "Ninety-nine Year Waltz," "Pine Grove Blues," "Kaplan Waltz," "La valse à Tolan," " and J'ai été au bal." The other musicians on the CD are not identified.

In the late 1980s, Cormier retired from regular performing some time after the live recording was made. Though Cormier has put out at least 12 other recordings, the 2004 release of Andrew Cormier: Live at the Rodair Club serves as an appropriate tribute to an entire era of dance hall music.

The outside photos on this page were taken at Fest for All in Baton Rouge, May 7, 2006, when Pilione herself performed on fiddle with Cormier, joined on guitar by Joel Savoy, who edited the CD. The other photo was taken in 2000 during a program honoring Cormier as part of Cajun Day in Church Point.

Note: Andrew Cormier can also be heard on three cuts on the 2006 CD Rodney LeJeune and the Texas Cajun Playboys, which features studio recordings from the 1980s. Tina Pilione has another recording featuring herself on fiddle, Andrew Cormier on accordion, and Raymond Cormier on guitar.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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