NATHAN ABSHIRE

Born 23 June 1913, Gueyden, Louisiana
Died 13 May 1981, Basile, Louisiana

Singer / accordionist / composer. Nathan Abshire helped bring the blues and honky tonk to Cajun music and repopularized the accordion with his recordings during the 1950s and '60s, but still never managed to make a living from his music. Born to parents who were both accordionists, Abshire began playing professionally in the 1920s, and first recorded in the early '30s with Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers. Abshire went to work at the Basile, LA, town dump around that time, and he held the job for most of his working life. His fortunes began looking bright by 1935 when the Rayne-Bo Ramblers began backing him on sides for Bluebird, but a decade of obscurity followed the disastrous decline in the popularity of the accordion. For a while he took up the fiddle, as did many other aspiring accordionists. After serving in World War II, Abshire cut "Pine Grove Blues" - his most famous single and later his signature song - for O.T. Records in 1949, which was a regional hit. The 1950s saw his career in decline (like so many, the rise of Nashville country as a national phenomenum - and, subsequently, rock'n'roll - hurt the regional musical styles badly) but he bounced back later in the '50s and '60s with a run of singles that proved as meritorious as his earlier work.

In the 1960s, he became one of the first musicians to take Cajun music beyond the borders of Louisiana, traveling with the Balfa Brothers to concerts and folk festivals throughout the United States and Canada. Abshire also hit his stride as a recording artist in the late 1960s, turning out a string of remarkable records for the Swallow label that included Tramp Sur La Rue, Lemonade Song and Valse De Bayou Teche. A renewal of interest in Cajun and folk music during the '70s gave Abshire a chance to play several festivals and colleges and star in the 1975 PBS-TV Cajun documentary, Good Times Are Killing Me. The title proved prophetic, however, as Abshire fought alcoholism during his last years. Several sessions for Folkways and La Louisienne followed in the late '70s, but he died on May 13, 1981.

CD's: Pine Grove Blues / The Good Times Are Killing Me (Ace 329, Swallow recordings). The Great Cajun Accordionist (Ace 401). 70s recordings. -------------------------- Special appendix for our French list members:

Nathan Abshire était un beaucoup bon joueur d'accordéon de musique "Cajun". Il jouait des chansons "Cajun" dans les années 30 et 40, des "reels" qui étaient populaires dans le temps de son père, et aussi des chansons de blues qu'il a fait lui-même. Abshire est né au ras de Gueyden le 27 de juin 1913. Son père, sa mère, et un oncle tous jouaient l'accordéon. Abshire a commencé à jouer l'accordéon à l' âge de 6 ans, et à l'âge de 8 ans il jouait assez bien pour jouer dans des bals de maison. Dans quelques années, il était bien connu dans le sud-ouest de la Louisiane, et il était demandé pour jouer des bals de danse dans les "halls". Abshire aimait et était influencé par la musique à Amédée Ardoin. Des fois, ça jouait dessus le même "bandstand". On peut voir l'influence de blues par les chansons comme Service Blues, French Blues, et Pine Grove Blues. Abshire jouait beaucoup dans les années 30, et il a recordé pour le RCA Bluebird Co. dans 1935. Dans la deuxième guerre, Abshire était dans l'armée. Après la guerre, il a recommencé à jouer la musique "Cajun" traditionnelle. Sa chanson "Pine Grove Blues" était recordée dans 1949 pour le O.T. "label". La musique d'accordéon était après revenir à la mode. Dans les années 60, il était un dans les premiers musiciens pour amener la musique "Cajun" en dehors de la Louisiane. Il a voyagé avec les Frères Balfa aux festivals en travers de les Etats Unis et le Canada. Il a recordé plusieurs chansons tard dans les années 60 pour Swallow "label", comme "Tramp sur la Rue", "Lemonade Song", et "la Valse de Bayou Teche". Il était respecté comme un bon musicien, mais Abshire était pas capable de supporter sa famille juste avec sa musique. Pour un tas des années, il soignait le "town dump" à Basile, à-ou tout quelqu'un venir le voir. Il est mort à Basile le 13 de mai 1981. (Traduit par Lou et Lisa McCauley)

 
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