Sunday, August 8, 2010

Harry Choates on Gold Star 1326/1330




Harry Choates and His Fiddle - Cajun Hop / Harry Choates Special (Gold Star 1326/1330)

"Cajun Hop"


"Harry Choates Special"



Harry Choates's third release for Gold Star, which hit the jukeboxes in the summer of 1947, finally gave an accurate representation of how he and his band sounded in night clubs. "Cajun Hop" was merely an updated version of Leo Soileau's "Les Blues de Port Arthur," but "Harry Choates Special" broke from the "Jole Blon" mold entirely to deliver an excellent western swing dance/jam tune. Choates had been playing things like this since his earliest days as a musician. But years after Choates's death, when Pappy Daily was reissuing Choates's Gold Star masters, he deliberately avoided both these sides. Daily crafted a posthumous ideal of Choates as a "pure" Cajun folk artist that, for the most part, successfully deluded most listeners and writers for many years. I addressed and, I hope, permanently smashed this myth in my liner notes to the Choates Bear Family CD Devil in the Bayou (2002).



The "Cajun Hop" session is unique because Bill Quinn actually typed up a session sheet which the entire band signed, and, miraculously, this sheet actually survived and is now in the University of Texas archives. This is one of only two session sheets to survive for any Gold Star session, by anyone. Quinn's motivation was apparently to prove that he had paid the band for their services in case one of them tried to sue him later (as Jimmie Foster would do later that year for his non-credit on "Jole Blon"), though since he's only paying them $1.00 each, the contract is purely a formality. Either that, or the Melody Boys worked very cheap.

"Harry Choates Special" is not listed on the contract and is presumed to date from a later session. Quinn, in his usual eccentric fashion, issued 1326-A backed with 1330, and 1326-B ("Fa-De-Do Stomp") backed with 1331 ("Rubber Dolly"). This contract is reproduced for the first time below, as well as two rare Choates photos whose condition was too poor to use for the Bear Family release.

Below: The Choates Gold Star session sheet for the "Cajun Hop" session, dated (Wednesday), February 19, 1947. Click to enlarge.




Below: Harry Choates and Band in the Corpus Christi, Tx. area (possibly Rob's Place in Robstown), 1947. Left to right: unknown drums, Pee Wee Lyons (steel guitar), unknown saxophone, probably Wally Bryant, probably B.C. Jennings, Harry Choates, Red Fabacher.




Below: Harry Choates and Band, possibly in San Antonio, 1948. Left to right: Amos Comeaux (drums), Junior Keelan (bass), Choates, Johnnie Manuel (piano), Pee Wee Lyons (steel), unknown (guitar?).

10 comments:

  1. hi andy - is Amos Comeaux , the same artist who recorded for starday as Amos Como..??
    STARDAY 257 . HOLE IN THE WALL.
    this possibly an eddie shuler recording also..?
    cheers - beamon

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  2. Beamon

    It is assumed that Amos Comeaux = Amos Como on Starday, but I don't think there's any hard proof of that. Comeaux has been dead many years.

    The Starday is probably a Goldband master.

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  3. I know I've said this to you before, but to me that still doesn't look like Joe Manuel in the 1st photo. I'd argue that it isn't him & that the photo probably dates from after the time he and Harry were working together...

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  4. The contract says "one dollar and other good and valuable considerations" so I guess they got more. In 1947 Quinn was paying Lightnin' Hopkins $100 a side so I'd be surprised if he paid the band just $1 each. More likely it's wording his lawyer told him to use. But then again he had a contract with Lightnin' that offered royalties on sales, that he never paid.

    Excellent blog !!

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  5. "I know I've said this to you before, but to me that still doesn't look like Joe Manuel in the 1st photo..."

    I think you're correct. It's probably B.C. Jennings, who is pictured along with the bass player (Wally Bryant) in those Judy Baker pictures of Choates taken in Corpus Christi in 1947-48.

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  6. The sax player in the first photo could possibly be Link Davis. Davis played with Choates in the late 1940s and also lived in Corpus Christi for a while.

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  7. Davis did work with Choates, but not during this period. Davis would have been in Beaumont with the Blue Bonnet Playboys during 1947-48.

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  8. Anonymous said...
    hi andy - is Amos Comeaux , the same artist who recorded for starday as Amos Como..??
    STARDAY 257 . HOLE IN THE WALL.
    this possibly an eddie shuler recording also..?
    cheers - beamon

    Amos Comeaux (Como) is one in the same. It is he and his band, The Tune Toppers, who recorded Hole in the Wall. I also knew Eddie Shuler & he did not cooperate in making of the Hole in the Wall. Amos Comeaux (Como) was my father. He has a plaque hanging in the Musician's Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.
    Esther Comeaux Howard Thank you for your interest in my father

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  9. Thank you so much for this archive. You've got the only photo i know of of Red Fabacher on the net. My brother and I played the Summer of '68 with Red at the Anchor Inn in Kemah. Red was a monster guitar player and wonderful friend. During breaks we'd go downtairs to the little restaurant on the first floor of the club and Red would have a bowl of Chili with an egg cracked over the top. He had played with many of the top stars & bands on the Gulf coast and had lots of great stories. I played on old set of Leedy & Ludwig drums, my brother played a Kalamazoo Bass and Red played an Ampeg jazz guitar and amp. The set list was mainly jazz and pop standards (instrumental) for the supper club crowd. We rolled tape on 5 tunes one Saturday night and i recently got them onto a CD. Not bad for just a Sony reel to reel deck sitting on the piano. I earned a lot from Red. I was 14 years old. RIP Red.

    Mark

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  10. Mark, are you familiar with the picture on Wikipedia showing Red allegedly?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harrychoates-corpus.jpg
    Also, I believe Red was the same Francis "Red" Fabacher that played with the Jolly Boys of Lafayette in the 30s. If so, did he ever talk about those days?

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