Iry LeJeuneVer no iTunes
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This well-loved Cajun music figure lost his life in a highway accident when his career was at his peak. The decaying and sometimes never even built Louisiana highway system was to blame, as in many cases. Iry LeJune and his passenger J.B. Fusilier were forced to change a flat without pulling off the highway because the shoulder of the road was in disrepair; a passing car knocked them both into a field, killing LeJune instantly. His first accordion and music instructor was his father, Agnus LeJune. Music has always been an important part of the Cajun community, but even more so in the case of young Iry who was almost blind and found little to enjoy in life otherwise. It also turned out to be a reasonable way for him to make a living for himself as he got older. A local black musician named Amedie Ardoin was his biggest influence, giving LeJune the idea for his crying style of vocalizing. The younger man had the nimbler figures, however, and made something much more complicated and flashy out of Ardoin's basic style of accordion playing. Although LeJune began working the local dances, his timing wasn't the best in the world, as the fiddle had begun to be much more popular than the accordion, which was considered old fashioned. String bands such as the Hackberry Ramblers and a combo under the leadership of Happy Fats were the stars of the day. LeJune got nowhere trying to learn fiddle and get in on these trends. After a period of sitting in with a variety of bigger groups, LeJune got associate Floyd LeBlanc to take him to Houston for a recording session with Virgil Bozman's Oklahoma Tornados. Something special must have been in the air at this session, produced by the Opera label, because LeJune came up with a tune entitled "Love Bridge Waltz" that became not only a big hit, but a very special tune for under-employed accordion players in the southwest. It got on all the jukeboxes, and once again the sound of the squeeze button and bellows was heard in honky tonks. LeBlanc and LeJune stayed in Houston for a half a year, playing dances and bars. Then they returned to Louisiana, where LeJune got a regular spot on KPLC's Eddie Shuler show. Shuler got called in on the carpet right away, as the station management hated Cajun music. Shuler had the total opposite point of view, and quickly entered into a partnership with LeJune to release a series of his records on labels such as Goldband, Folk Star, and TNT. These records continued establishing LeJune in Cajun music and included titles such as "Teche Special" and "Calcasieu Waltz." Now the shoe was on the other foot, and accordions were forcing fiddles right out of the picture. LeJune continued working around southwest Louisiana with Iry LeJune and His Lacassine Playboys, featuring musicians such as Duckhead Cormier, Wilson Grainger, and Robert Bertrand. Shuler came along on tour, picking up some guitar as well as arranging snap recording sessions at local radio stations or sometimes even setting up his tape recorder in someone's kitchen. One of the finest LeJune tracks, "Duraldo Waltz" is just such a track, although this is one of the few recordings by this artist that does not feature his accordion playing. Classic LeJune recordings from the late '40s and early '50s were re-released on Swallow Records in the late '70s.