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

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CD Release: Maurice Barzas & the
Original Mamou Playboys at Snook's

Click here for high res photos of Vorance Barzas and the 21st century version of the Original Mamou Playboys.


All photos except the second from top were taken at a CD release party June 15. 2007, at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette. The band members are Vorance Barzas on drums and vocals; Tina Pilione on fiddle; Steve Riley on accordion; and Kevin Barzas on guitar. The other photo of Vorance Barzas was taken the next evening at the Liberty Theater in Eunice. Click on thumbnails for larger versions.

Among her many endeavors in addition to working with Marc Savoy building accordions at the Savoy Music Center near Eunice, Tina Pilione has produced recordings on her  Sterling label that preserve the Cajun dancehall music of earlier decades. Her 2007 release of two CDs titled Live at Snook's Vol I and II, featuring Maurice Barzas and the Original Mamou Playboys, makes available performances that otherwise would have been lost forever. 

Barzas and the Mamou Playboys recorded only two 45s, but we are very fortunate that both Pilone and Maurice’s son, Vorance Barzas, both made tapes of the band performing during their long-running gig at Snook’s in Ville Platte.

 For 35 years, the  Mamou Playboys were there every Saturday night at Snook’s, where people from Evangeline Parish and beyond would go to listen and dance to music that was all about having a good time in a friendly setting. The other musicians changed some over the years, but, in addition to Maurice, Vorance Barzas, was there, playing drums and providing the vocals in the old style. Vorance’s son, Kevin, eventually joined the band, and Tina Pilione herself played fiddle toward the end of a run of some 1,800 weekly performances.. When Maurice Barzas died in 1985, the group dissolved. Vorance eventually went on to perform with Dewey Balfa when Steve Riley was the accordionist. Eventually, Steve Riley formed his own group, taking the name of Maurice Barzas’ band.

 In the liner notes to the CDs, Tina Pilione provides a much more detailed account of the life of Maurice Barzas and the history of the Original Mamou Playboys as well as an overview of the dancehall scene in the Evangeline Parish area (the Playboys performed several nights a week at various clubs–for a time, every night, plus a couple of afternoon gigs). The liner notes also features photographs of the Barzas family and the band.

Here is a list of the cuts on the two CDs:

Volume I: “Theme Song,” “Chere Toot Toot,” “Good Time Two-Step,” “Valse de Grands Chemins,” “Reno Waltz,” “M & S Special,” “Grand Mamou,” :Chataignier Waltz,” “Evangeline Special,” “Valse de Balfa,” “Ville Platte Waltz,” “Pauvre Hobo,” “Choupique Waltz,” “Ton coeur est barré,” “Eunice Two-Step,” “Home Sweet Home.”

Volume II: “Theme Song,” “Teche Special,” “Viens me chercher,” “Acadian Two-Step,” “Chère Alice,” “Valse de bambocheur,” “Lacassine Special,” “Valse de Bayou Chêne,” “Oakdale Waltz,” “Lu Lu Boogie,” “Evangeline Waltz,” “Prairie Ronde Waltz,” “One Scotch,” “Family Waltz,” “Winnie Two-Step,” “Home Sweet Home”

Since the recordings were made with portable recorders, the sound quality does not match today’s  standards, but everything else is all there: the classic Cajun dance hall songs, the crowd in the background, an old-time Cajun Saturday night brought to life again on Tina Pilione’s CDs.

Visit Tina Pilione's Official Web Site for more information on Sterling Productions CDs, details about all her activities, photos of musicians, and other information.

Snook Foret is shown on the left with a friend in the first photo. The photo immediately above was taken many years later. Brochures promoting Evangeline Parish tourism can be seen in the background. The photo below shows the bar at Snook's at an earlier time. Photos courtesy of Denise Foret.


The man who operated the now legendary club for most of the time that it was the Saturday night home of the Mamou Playboys was a World War II veteran named Nathan Foret, known to everyone as Snook. He fought under General George Patton until he was injured in the Battle of the Bulge. Back home he worked in construction (with Jimmy C. Newman, who used to sing and play his guitar during work breaks) before deciding to start a bar in a building that he rented. Snook's opened in 1948. In addition to a bar and dance hall, It became a gathering place for the Ville Platte community, where political rallies and other activities would be held. 

While the focus of anyone interested in Cajun music is rightly on the musicians themselves, it is important to remember the role of the club operators in promoting the music and keeping the clubs going while the dominant American culture headed in many different directions. 

Making sure the customers are happy and taking care of the business are routine responsibilities of any club operator, but there is always the unexpected. After his experiences in combat, Snook Foret was prepared to handle any difficulty that might arise in his club. His daughter, Denise Foret, a member of the LSUE LeDoux Library staff, recalls the time when a man shot another man in the club. Snook walked over to the shooter, got his gun, summoned the police, and then called his wife so that she would not be surprised when she heard about the killing on the news.  The shooting was an isolated incident, but just one of the challenges that anyone running such an establishment has to be prepared to face.

In the early 1980s, Snook Foret decided to retire from running Snook’s, and, for a number of years, another manger operated the club. Eventually, it closed. For a while, the building housed a church. As of 2007, it is vacant.

Snook Foret died in 2004.  By then, just about all of the old dance halls across the region had closed. But the legacy of the music played in those dance halls, now preserved for future generations on these CDs, remains as a very rich resource for today’s Cajun musicians and everyone who enjoys real Cajun music.

Posted 7-7-07.

All photographs (except those in the section above) and text by David Simpson.

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