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  Balfa Heritage Week
   Vanicor Brothers
   Master Session ● April 24, 2006 

Milton Vanicor

Ellis Vanicor

Orsy Vanicor



In the top photo in the right column, Ellis Vanicor speaks to Steve Riley. In the next photo, David Greely is shown singing "Viens m'chercher."

Shown below, from left, are Orsy Vanicor, Ellis Vanicor, Steve Riley, Courtney Granger, Milton Vanicor, and Peter Schwarz.

Each afternoon, the 2006 Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage week featured a session with master musicians. On Monday, the Vanicor brothers from Lacassine performed the music of the legendary Iry LeJeune. They played with Iry LeJeune when he lived in Lacassine five decades ago, and they also recorded with him on the Goldband label. 

Milton, the oldest of the the three Vancior brothers, and Ellis, are both fiddlers. Orsy plays steel guitar. Milton's profile is familiar to many Cajun music fans through Philip Gould's photograph on the cover of the Mamou Playboys' CD Bon Rêve. During the session, Steve Riley accompanied them on accordion with Courtney Granger on guitar and Peter Schwarz on bass. David Greely helped out with a few vocals on songs like "Viens m'chercher," but, on other songs, like "Jeunes filles de la campagne," "Teche Special," and "La valse du grand chemin," Milton Vanicor delivered vocals in the old style that could resonate across the dance hall even without a microphone.

The brothers recalled their experiences performing with Iry LeJeune, including one famous incident in which Iry, seated with his accordion, wanted to be raised to the same level as the other musicians who were standing. They improvised a platform put together with wooden coke boxes, which collapsed in the middle of a song, leaving Iry sprawling on his back, still belting out the "Lacassine Special" from a horizontal position.

They also recalled that their mother learned to play the accordion, though she never performed in public. In later years, when they visited her in a nursing home, she still wanted to play if they would accompany her.

When they were young, their father would agree to let them hold a house dance, but only if the music was provided by Amédé Ardoin, A table was moved into the living room to serve as a makeshift bandstand, where Amédé would be seated, accompanied only by one of the brothers' cousins on triangle.

 For anyone at all interested in Cajun music, or anyone who just likes to hear some good stories about earlier times when entertainment was an integral part of people's lives instead of a manufactured commodity, it was a truly uplifting, even inspiring, afternoon.

The crowd wanted to keep the conversation going, but the scheduled time ran out, and the Vanicor brothers, who still perform as the Lacassine Playboys, ended their session by playing “Enterre-moi pas dans l’cimetière.”

Posted 7-22-06.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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