Click here for photos posted on Flickr.
Click here to go to Ray Abhsire's
Official Web Site.
Click here for his MySpace page.
Ray Abshire at Festivals Acadiens 2006
Phillip Gould's photo of Dewey Balfa and
Will Bolfa behind them, Ray Abshire,
who, as described further down the page,
played accordion with the Balfa Brothers
some three decades ago, and Courtney
Granger, great nephew of the Balfas,
gave the Heritage Stage crowd a generous
sampling of old style, heartfelt Cajun
music during Festivals Acadiens Oct. 14,
2006. Others musicians shown in the wide
shot are Mitch Reed at far left and Ray
Abshire's sons, Travis and Brett. Click
on thumbnails to access larger photos.
2005 CD: Arrête pas la musique
During fall 2005, Ray
Abshire released a follow-up CD to his
award-winning initial 2003 recording. True to
the title, Arrête pas la musique, the CD
delivers 18 cuts, including seven original songs.
In 2005 Ray Abshire
continued to perform at festivals, Mardi Gras in
Mamou, and benefits for hurricane evacuees, and
at popular venues like Fred's Lounge in Mamou.
He traveled overseas to England, Denmark, and
Australia, as well as to other states to bring
audiences Cajun music in the old style of his
cousin Nathan Abshire, Dewey Balfa, and other
legendary musicians with whom he played decades
Click here for more
information on Arrête pas la musique and some
more 2005 photos.
|Ray Abshire wins Le Cajun Award
for Best First Recording
CD Pour les bons vieux temps, featuring Ray
Abshire and friends, received the Cajun French Music
Association's Le Cajun Award for the Best First Recording.
The award was presented August 20, 2004, at the CFMA's
annual national festival held in Lafayette.
Ray Abshire is shown at right the next
day at the festival, when he performed with an all-star
Further below on this web page is a
brief description of the CD. Abshire is working on a second
and Friends at Festivals Acadiens, 2003
|As shown above, when Ray Abshire
performed on Sept. 20, 2003, at Festivals Acadiens, a large
black and white photo was on display behind the band. The
photo shows Ray Abshire on accordion playing with the Balfa
Brothers at the first "A Tribute to Cajun Music," held
at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette on March 26, 1974, the
event that evolved into Festivals Acadiens. For
another photo taken in 1974, go to
Ray Abshire's Official Site. In the 2003 photo, from
left, are Courtney Granger, Kevin Wimmer, Ray Abshire, André
Michot, and Louie Michot.
2003 performance offered the crowd Cajun music performed in
the same style and with the same commitment to tradition
displayed at Blackham Coliseum 29 years before.
|For more information,
go to Ray Abshire's Official Web Site.
The occasion at which the photographs on this page were taken couldn't
have been more congenial: a CD release party hosted by Mitchell and Lisa Reed at their Louisiana Heritage and Gifts Store on a
Saturday afternoon, April 4, 2003. There was barbecue with all the fixings, cold
beverages, a good crowd of acquaintances and lovers of traditional Cajun music, and Ray
Abshire himself, friendly and engaging, talking in French and English about music, old
times, and family connections shared with some of the guests. It was the perfect setting
to relax and listen to some old-style classic Cajun music, "Pour les bons vieux
temps," as Ray titled his CD. Joining him were Kevin Wimmer on fiddle and
André Michot on guitar, both of whom performed with him on the CD, and Mitchell Reed,
sitting in for Courtney Granger, the other fiddler on the CD, who had a gig in Mamou that
As the liner notes to CD explain, Ray Abshire grew
up during the fifties and sixties and developed his accordion and vocal style by
performing with legendary musicians like his cousin Nathan Abshire, his friend Amadie
Breaux, and the Balfa Brothers. The fiddle styles of musicians like Dewey Balfa, Lionel
Leleux, and Will Kegley influenced his accordion playing: their performances drew on deep
emotions but were also musically precise. In addition, Ray Abshire has a pure vocal
style that recalls the pitch of singers from the pre-amplification era who projected their
voices across the dance hall.
In the mid-seventies, when he was playing accordion with the Balfa
Brothers, Abshire decided to withdraw from public performances. In the early nineties,
urged on by family and friends, he returned to the stage, performing with various groups
at venues throughout Louisiana and at festivals nationwide.
The CD liner notes to Pour les bons vieux temps include
transcriptions of lyrics in French and English provided by Barry Jean Ancelet and Ginette
Baillargeon. Ray Abshire handles the vocals on his own song, "Grand Riceville,"
Belton Richard's "Valse sans retour," Robert Bertrand's "Louisiana Rambler
Waltz," Will Balfa's "Mon vieux wagon," Lawrence Walker's "Tout les
deux pour la même," "Tee Mamou," and "Angelas Lejeune's "Donnez
moi mon chapeau."
The other musicians on the CD also have strong roots in traditional
Cajun music. Courtney Granger is the grand nephew of Dewey Balfa, and Kevin Wimmer studied
fiddle with Dewey. Both are members of Balfa Toujours. André Michot is a second
generation of Les Frères Michot. In addition to fiddle, Courtney handles the vocals on
"Valse à Rodney," "Lacassine Special," "Cher bébé
créole," and "Valse du grand bois." Though he is only about 20 years old,
Courtney already has established himself as a great Cajun singer in the Balfa tradition.
The CD, which was released by
Swallow Records, also includes several instrumentals: "French Two-Step,"
"Washington Stomp" (Ray Abshire's tribute to friends of Cajun music in the state
of Washington), "Dance Hall Special" (his tribute to all the great dance halls
of South Louisiana), "Brunette Two-Step," "Marche carrément"
("Step-It-Fast"), and "Ossun Two-Step."
Pictured during the CD release party at Louisiana Heritage and
Gifts in Lafayette are Ray Abshire on accordion, Kevin Wimmer on fiddle, and André Michot
on guitar. Courtney Granger, who was performing elsewhere that day, is shown immediately
above with Kevin Wimmer during Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Day at Lake Fausse
State Park April 18, 2003.