All of the photos on this page were taken at the
Liberty Theater in Eunice May 8, 2004. Jean-Jacques Aucoin is shown on
accordion. Louie, his brother, is playing a washtub bass that he built
himself. Dave Trainer is on fiddle, doing the vocals for "Joe Pitre."
Richard Burgess is on guitar. Jean-Jacques and Louie are shown
immediately above in a duet. The photos below also show Todd Aucoin on
The self-titled CD T-Salé
is available on Swallow Records.
T-Salé means "a little salty," and, appropriately,
Philip Gould’s magical photograph on the cover of T-Salé’s first CD
depicts a worker spreading Avery Island salt across red peppers. It’s a routine step in
making Tabasco Sauce produced by the McIlhenny Co., but in Gould’s photo
the salt sparkles like diamonds.
Cajun music, played well, is
also magical, taking the ordinary and making it surprise and excite us
with emotions that are rich and lustrous.
Many of the songs on T-Salé’s
first CD are themselves musical gems—songs from the past that are rarely
performed today but have lost none of their beauty or power. The opening
song, “La Robe de Rosalie,” was composed by Jean-Jacques and Louie
Aucoin’s maternal grandfather, Cyprien Landreneau. Performed using the
accordion-fiddle unison style that Cyprien and his cousin Adam played,
this song is pure joy and exhilaration: no one can sit still listening
to this music. There are two other Adam and Cyp numbers: “La Talle des
Ronces,” in which the singer asks his girl to meet him in the briar
patch, and “La Valse de Prairie Rhonde,” an old-time Cajun waltz with
Todd Aucoin on triangle and Louie Aucoin on his washtub bass.
A few songs will be familiar to
many listeners, but hearing the harmony duet by Jean-Jacques and Louie
on Iry LeJeune’s “La Valse de Grand Chemin” adds a new dimension to the
way this song sounds. Fiddler Dave Trainer also does a nice job on “Joe Pitre,” and the
band’s exuberant performance of “La Coulée Rodaire,” a Canray
Fontenot song, is just about perfect. “La Jogue au Plombeau,” a less
well known Canray song, is a beautiful, bluesy waltz.
Other songs are all the more
appealing because they are less familiar: Austin Pitre’s “La Valse de
Chataignier,” Nathan Abshire’s “Iota Two-Step,” the instrumental “Le
Reel de Melon d’Eau” (a Dewey Balfa fiddle tune), and “La Valse de Coeur
Cassé,” an old Belton Richard song with Louie handling the vocals.
“Joe Féraille” is another lively, humorous Cajun song from decades ago,
originally recorded in 1934 by Edier Segura for folklorist Alan Lomax
(and recorded most recently by Moise and Alida Viator, who, like
Jean-Jacques and Louie, are former LSUE students).
The best treat on this CD are
the two original songs. In “Ton Meilleur Malheur,” Dave Trainer gives us
a bouncy Cajun fiddle blues. He worked
with Amanda LaFleur and Chicken and Winky Aucoin on the French lyrics in which a man
asserts that everything he does
makes him irresistible to women: “Moi, j’sus le meilleur malheur que
t’as jamais eu,” or “I am the best misfortune that you’ve never had’—the
lyrics have to be in French for this song to sound right.
“Si Tu Veux Ma Fille,” by
Jean-Jacques Aucoin, with help from his parents and Amanda LaFleur, is
based on a story told by his father about the requirements laid down by
Cyp Landreneau when Gilbert “Winky” Aucoin came to court his daughter,
the future Margaret “Chicken” Aucoin. It’s the kind of story that must
be true because it took place in Evangeline Parish. And it’s even more
charming and amusing because it’s a family story that has found its way
Amanda LaFleur, a Ville Platte
native who is now coordinator of Cajun French Studies on the LSU campus
in Baton Rouge, provided the French transcription and English
translation of the two original songs.
After having been together for
some three years, T-Salé now has the tight sound of accomplished
musicians who obviously enjoy playing together. Jean-Jacques’ vocals are
clear and natural, in the tradition of great Cajun vocalists of the past
without any forcing to mimic anyone. Louie is also an excellent
vocalist, and together the two brothers perform some of the best duets
in Cajun music today. Dave Trainer, who also plays with The Nouveau
String Band, has mastered Cajun fiddling, especially the elements of
blues featured on a number of songs on the CD. Richard Burgess has
especially nice guitar solos on the Belton Richard and Nathan Abshire
songs. Todd Aucoin (no relation to the two brothers) is a veteran of
bands like Balfa Toujours, a percussionist who is totally at home
playing Cajun music. Lee Tedrow, another member of The Nouveau String
Band, plays slide guitar on two songs.
The CD was recorded and mixed by
Dirk Powell at The Cypress House studio next to his home in Parks. Dirk
(with his wife, Christine Balfa-Powell in the background at one point)
can be heard at the end of the CD in his role as producer trying to get
his dog Jamie to bark as a sound effect on “Ton Meilleur Malheur.” He
solved that problem and produced a CD that should make everyone who
contributed to it proud.
Contact T-Salé at email@example.com.
Phone (337) 344-7398
or write 99 Mathews Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70508.
Click here to go to LSUE's first page on