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Floyd Shreve

This versatile Cajun musician was a sideman in several key bands from that genre, although he also had both a performing and recording career as a bandleader, fronting a winning hand of a combo known as Floyd Shreve and the Three Aces. "Louisiana Sweetheart" was one of this group's classic sides, cut for Decca in 1935. The penchant for "aces" overlapped with Shreve's collaboration with Cajun legend Leo Soileau, who had drawn the original Three Aces in 1934 at a time when western music was surging in popularity in southwest Louisiana; the musical influences of neighboring Texas wandering into the Bayou State like disoriented armadillos. Almost in panic, Cajun bands were dropping the accordion and changing to exclusively stringed instruments. The Hackberry Ramblers, one of the outfits that would employ Shreve, have been credited as being the very first professional Cajun string band, but it at least kept the possibility of accordion at its center with founding member Edwin Duhon doubling on guitar and the old-time squeezebox. The group was formed in 1930, and Shreve appears on some of its first recordings sessions from 1935.

An important part of the same musical movement, the original Three Aces included Soileau on fiddle, Shreve and Dewey Landry on rhythm guitars, with the rhythmically versatile Tony Gonzalez doubling on bass and drums. A major inspiration for these bands was most certainly Western swing. The Hackberry Ramblers were enthusiasts, and the style was being widely broadcast over the radio throughout Louisiana. Shreve was part of Soileau's group signed by Bluebird, the instrumentation a telling example of where things were headed. It was a string band, minus the accordion but featuring the first use of a drum set on a Cajun recording session. These sides, such as "La Valse de Gueydan," "Hackberry Hop," and Cajun warhorse "La Gran Mamou," were quite popular. In 1935, this band had evolved into Soileau's Four Aces and shuffled over to Decca.

In the early '40s, the group drove out of the familiar surroundings of Crowley, LA, with its crawfish po-boys, and headed for Chicago, where smoked beef dogs smothered with mustard and ketchup were more the rule. The combo drove in a decrepit Model A Ford, complete with a fresh contract in hand to record country songs in a Cajun style. The resulting versions of "Red River Valley" and "Birmingham Jail" are priceless. This group also recorded polkas, Mexican songs, and practically anything that anyone suggested, creating a pile of some 100 record released during the '30s and early '40s. "Jolie Blonde" was one of the biggest hits; the Cajun standard had been first recorded by the Hackberry Ramblers, with debate still in progress over whether Shreve has bragging rights to playing on both versions. For one thing, some Cajun scholars confuse Floyd Rainwater with Floyd Shreve, as if the presence of the name "Floyd" canceled out the conscious mind. Rainwater was part of a set of brothers who were original members of the Hackberry Ramblers, while Shreve was more involved with the group in the mid-'30s, when it evolved a separate-but-equal identity as the Riverside Ramblers. Perhaps the only music group in American history that can claim to be named after a brand of tires, this offspring of the Hackberry mob sang in English rather than French, with the talented Joe Werner brought in to take care of the lead vocal duties.

Shreve's feel for country & western music was an asset as this ensemble rolled into that territory, running over some hit-parade positions and earning a Decca contract in the process. There have also been questions about whether Shreve appears or doesn't on some of the Soileau recordings from this period as well. The decision to credit guitarist Jerry Baker with being on the "Hackberry Hop" session depressed Happy Fats, a historic figure in this genre, who insisted it was actually two other guitarists, Shreve and Bill Landry. Shreve seems to have dropped off the professional scene sometime after the Second World War. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Cajun-Rare & Authentic

Disc 1

1. Fe Fe Ponchaux

2. A Cowboy Rider

3. Vieux Airs

5. Rayne Special

6. La Valse De Creole

7. Bury Me In A Corner Of The Yard

8. My Sweetheart Run Away

9. Mercredi Soir Passe

10. The Waltz Of Our Little Town

11. The Pretty Girls Don't Want Me

12. Do You Think Work Is Hard?

13. Arcadian Waltz

14. Allon A Tassone

15. Disez Goodbye A Votre Mere

16. Le Petit One Step

17. La Valse De La Veuve

18. Confession D'amour

19. La Blouse Francaise

20. Valse De Boscoville

21. Lake Arthur Two Step

22. Lake Charles Waltz

23. Gasport One Step

24. Lacassine Waltz

25. Black Bayou One Step

Disc 2

4. Le Midland Two-Step

6. Valse Brunette

7. Tortope D'osrun

8. La Valse Du Ballard

13. Si Dur D'etre Seul

16. Ta Aura Regret

17. Elle A Plurer Pour Revenir

18. Waltz Of The Long Wood

19. I Am Happy Now

20. Le Recommendation Du Soulard

22. Le Garcon Chez Son Pere

23. Le Garcon Negligent

24. Homme Abandonne

25. Ma Petite Blonde

Disc 3

1. Egan One Step

2. La Valse Des Pins

3. La Valse D'auguste

4. Merrymaker's Hop

5. Lake Arthur Waltz

6. It's The Top Of Everything

7. Over The Waves

8. Darling Of Yesterday

9. Par De Su Les Lames

11. La Manvais Femme

12. Ma Petite Chere Ami

13. The Lonesome Wanderer

14. The Answer To Weeping Willow

15. Ayou, Ayou, Mon Petite Chien Pour Edete

17. Quatre Ou Cinq Fois

18. Bon Whiskey

19. La Valse A Karo

20. Alons Kooche Kooche

21. I've Got A Gal

22. La Musique Encore, Encore

23. Cata Houla Breakdown

24. La Valse De La Lafayette

25. Tant Que Tu Est Avec Moi

Disc 4

1. High Society

2. Old Man Crip

3. There'll Come A Time

4. Abbeville

5. Jolie (Brunette)

6. Just Because

7. Bonnie Blue Eyes

8. Louisiana Moon

9. My Little Girl

10. Bring It Down To The Jailhouse Honey

11. Green Valley Waltz

12. Mama Don't Allow No Hanging Around

13. Sonny Boy

14. Don't Ever Trust A Friend

15. Blue Eyes

16. On Top Of The World

17. High Mountain Blues

18. Su Charin

19. Te Ma Pris De La Maison

20. The Wandering Man

21. Dobie Shack

22. Let's Go Fishing

23. She's One Of Those

24. Pourquois Te En Pen

25. Je Vas Jamais Lessair Pleurer

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