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Floyd Shreve & The Three Aces

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

x

Track List: Cajun - Hot Stuff

1. Mama, Where Are You At?

2. Saute Crapaud!

3. Quelqu'un Est Jaloux

4. Stop That

5. Belle Of Point Clare

8. Lonesome Blues

9. Alberta

10. Mon Vieux D'autrefois

11. Jolie Blonde

12. Lake Arthur Stomp

13. Valse De Marie Buller

14. Et La Bas

15. Two-Step A'erby

16. La Response De Blues De Bosco

17. Crap Shooters Hop

18. Ma Chere Bouclette

19. Je Va T'aimer Quand-Meme

20. La Veuve De La Coulee

x

Track List: Cajun Capers (Cajun Music 1928 - 1954)

Disc 1

1. Lafayette

3. T'est Petite A Ete T'est Meon

4. Your Father Put Me Out

5. Easy Rider Blues

6. Ma Blonde Est Partie (Jolie Blonde)

7. One Step De Mamou

9. Bayou Pom Pom

10. Oh Bebe

11. Sur Le Chemin Chez Moi

12. Mon Chere Bebe Creole

13. A Mosquito Ate Up My Sweetheart

14. Ma Cherie

15. Belle Of Pont Clare

18. Saute Crapaud!

19. Quelqu'un Est Jaloux

20. Baoille

22. One Step De Chupic

23. Two Step De La Ville Platte

25. One Step D'oberlin

Disc 2

1. Oberlin

2. Aimez-Moi Ce Soir

3. La Valse Du Ballard

4. Si Dur D'etre Seul

5. La Valse D'utah

6. Lonesome Blues

7. 'neath The Weeping Willow Tree

9. French Blues

10. Rayne Breakdown

12. Barroom Blues

13. (My Old Used To Be) Mon Vieux D'autrefois

14. A Little Rendezvous In Honolulu

15. J'ai Pas Bien Fey

16. Just Once More

17. On Top Of The World

18. Vinton High Society

19. Darbone's Creole Stomp

20. Les Blues De Bosco

22. Jolly Boys Breakdown

23. Lake Arthur Stomp

24. Pine Island

25. Wondering

26. Rice City Stomp

Disc 3

1. Fais Pas Ca

2. Jolie Fille

4. Ta Oublis De Vernier

6. Crap Shooter's Hop

7. She's My Flapper She's My Baby

8. La Two Step A Erby

9. Tu Pen Pas Ma Retter De Revere

10. Lake Charles Waltz

12. Tu Peus Pas Me Fair Ce

13. Gran Prairie

15. Lake Charles Shuffle

16. Les Tete Fille Lafayette

17. The Old Ice Man

18. Jole Blon

20. Poor Hobo

21. Nobody Cares For Me

22. Old Cow Blues

24. You Just Wait And See

25. Lacassine Special

26. Orphan Waltz

Disc 4

1. Jolie Blon's Gone

3. Pine Grove Blues

5. Gra Mamou

8. Mamou Two Step

10. Fille De La Ville

11. Korea Blues

12. Big Mamou

13. Dans La Louisianne

14. Jolie Brun

15. Cry Cry Darling

16. Lafayette Two Step

18. Port Arthur Boogie

19. Along The Bayou

20. Louisiana Stomp

22. Why Did You Let Me Love You

23. Diggy Liggy Lo

24. Cajun Love

25. Kajalena

28. Jambalaya

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