|In "Don't Worry About
Horace," a song included on the New Ossun Express' debut album Get on Board,
Horace Trahan answers those "messy people" who object to the new direction his
music has taken. The entire album, which features his new zydeco sound, should help
assure fans of traditional music that, while Horace is performing in a new style, he still
knows how to sing and play from the heart. A second album, Reach Out and Touch a Hand,
released in early 2001, confirms that judgment.
Trahan and the New Ossun Express offer their versions of Zydeco favorites from Southwest Louisiana while also giving us some new songs. Like the first album, the second release includes songs from musicians at the center of the rural Zydeco tradition like Boozoo Chavis and John Delafose.
Horace credits Geno Delafose and his mother, JoAnn, with providing him with encouragement. He began moving in his new direction in July 1999, and subsequently put together a band that, in addition to his own accordion playing, features Paul (Slim) Washington on guitar, John (The Sheriff) Best on scrubboard, and Paul Edwards on drums.
|Daniel Gaspard played bass on the
first CD. Fiddler Brazos Huval joined the band on bass for a while, and, on the second CD,
James Prejean is featured on bass.
The new song on the second CD receiving the most play on radio is probably "That Butt Thing," a celebration of a certain part of female anatomy in the earthy tradition of rural Zydeco. Also new are "We Gonna Party on Down" and "Sassy Girl Two-Step."
Trahan and The New Ossun Express offer their versions of Boozoo Chavis' "Uncle Bud" and Willis Prudhomme's "Crawfish Got Soul," as well as "Monkey and the Baboon." French songs include John Delafose's "Lake Charles Two-Step," "Pointe aux Pins," and "Ou Ye Yie," with Paul Delafosse handling vocals on the latter song.
The second CD also offers Clifton Chenier's "Comin' Home Tomorrow" and "My Name Is Horace Trahan,"adapted from Chenier's song.
The most popular song in area clubs from the first album has been "High School Breakdown." The song is based on the drumbeat that Trahan remembers when he played percussion at Carencro High football games. Many of the other cuts on the first album cover songs by Boozoo Chavis ("You Talk About Your Baby," "Oh Yeah," "Zydeco Hee Haw") or John Delafose ("Find My Woman," "One Hour Too Late," "Poor Man Two-Step"). Also included are Trahan's versions of Iry LeJeune's "Big Road Waltz" and Dewey Balfa's "Lanse aux Paille Two-Step," as well as "Eunice Two-Step." Paul Edwards, who handles backup vocals on a number of songs, is the lead vocalist on "The Blues Is All Right."
Both albums were released on the Zydeco Hound label by Acadiana Records of Eunice.
For more information on the New Ossun Express, contact Horace Trahan, (337) 896-4144.
While Trahan was still a teenager (he was born in 1976), Cajun music fans recognized in his soulful, plaintive voice clear echoes of the legendary Cajun musician Iry LeJeune. Anyone who listens to Trahan's first album, Ossun Blues (1996), is likely to be incredulous that a young man could bring such depth of feeling to songs like LeJeune's "Viens Me Chercher," Nathan Abshire's "Blues Francais," or Dewey Balfa's "La Valse du Bambocheur." Even more remarkable is Trahan's ability to compose his own songs like "Amitie Casser" that draw on the same basic human feelings of sorrow and heartache.
According to Barry Ancelet in his liner notes to Ossun Blues, Trahan's first public performance occurred after a staff member at the Liberty Theater in Eunice heard him performing at the afternoon jam session held next door at the Jean Lafitte Acadian Culture Center. During the evening show, she persuaded Ancelet to ask Trahan to come on stage to play one song. His performance of "Viens me chercher" brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience, who gave him a standing ovation. Trahan learned to play accordion from his father's first cousin, Felix Richard, who a couple of decades earlier had taught Zachary Richard to play.
Ossun Blues, which was released by Swallow Records, includes lyrics in French and English. Accompanying Trahan on the album on various songs are D.L. Menard, Terry Huval, Stacey Huval, Christine Balfa, Nelda Balfa, Kevin Wimmer, and Dirk Powell. Ossun, where Horace Trahan was raised, is a small town near Lafayette. According to Ancelet, Trahan's father, Helaire, "was the son of Helaire Trahan, whose sisters were Joe Falcon's "filles à noncle Helaire" (Horace Trahan performs that song on the CD).
The top photo of Horace Trahan in the right column was taken in the Liberty Theater in Eunice in May 2001. The top left photo was taken at the Liberty during late 1999. The other photograph of Trahan was taken when Geno Delafose invited him on stage during Geno's annual fan appreciation party in October 1999. The next picture, taken at the St. Thomas More Church Bazaar in Eunice, September 30, 2000, shows Trahan with rubboard player John "The Sheriff" Best and guitarist Paul "Slim" Washington, who is also pictured at the Mamou Zydeco and Blues Festival October 7, 2000, where Paul Edwards is shown on drums.
All photographs and text by David Simpson.