Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Canray Fontenot - "Bonsoir Moreau" (information, examples, lyrics, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about Zydeco & Cajun music and showcases Canray Fontenot and his song "Bonsoir Moreau".

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Canray Fontenot for his musical legacy. Thanks also the publishers of these examples on YouTube and all those who are quoted in this post.

"In two hundred years, Clifton Chenier once noted, Canray will still be the best. But don‘t take my word for it. Listen for yourself. Louisiana Hot Sauce, Creole Style (Arhoolie 381) is the Creole fiddle king at work. La Musique Creole (Arhoolie 445) features Bois Sec Ardoin on accordion and Canray Fontenot on fiddle. Listen especially to the 1966 recording of "Bon Soir Moreau" and "Tit Monde." I should also note that all of the Ardoin family recordings with Fontenot are often covered by both Cajun and zydeco bands."

“From the bottom left-hand corner of New France, `Louisiana Hot Sauce' displays the superb instrumental and vocal style of Canray Fontenot, the most famous living exponent of black Creole fiddling. Fontenot's father Adam - known as Nonc Adam - was an accordion player of some note and encouraged his son, once he'd learned the basics, to sit in with him. Tunes like the marvelously titled `Slow Drag A Nonc Adam' obviously date back to these early years.

We' re in reissue territory here, with material from two previous Arhoolie LPs but also a healthy 11 tracks previously unissued. The transition from the opening band numbers, also featuring accordionist `Boisec' Ardoin, to the sparse, stripped-down solos and duets with Michael Doucet give a wonderful insight into his playing of two-steps, waltzes and blues.

For a man who once said `I just play `cause I can play' his music is never anything but totally engaging. Whether it's raunchy breaks and fiddle echoed vocals on the bluesy `Joe Pitre A Deux Femmes' or the unaccompanied Cajun-style fiddling of the Two-Step De Grand Mallet with its extra beats and irregular bar lengths - but solid, foot-slap rhythm - you can always sense the player behind the fiddle, his pain, humour and compassion. Entirely recommended. The cover art is tasty, too.”
-Pete Cooper — Musical Traditions

[same link as above]
"CANRAY FONTENOT (1922-1995) Louisiana lost a great artist and a charismatic ambassador when Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot died July 29 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer and diabetes. Born in L'Anse aux Vaches on Oct. 23, 1922, Canray was a living bridge between turn-of-the-century musical styles and today's younger musicians. His father, `Nonc' Adam Fontenot, was a legendary accordion player and contemporary of Amédée Ardoin. Orphaned at a young age, Canray did manual labor all his life, yet traveled the world and won such prestigious awards as the National Heritage Award from the NEA.

Canray's unique style was bluesy, yet melodic. His wild slides and gravelly vocals were always accompanied by his mile-wide grin. Canray originals such as "Joe Pitre a deux femmes," "Les Barres de la prison" and "Bonsoir Moreau" have become standards in the Cajun and Zydeco repertoires…

He and his wife, Artile, raised six children, four of whom went to college and one of whom is a lawyer. Canray played and traveled to the end, teaching and performing with long-time partner “Bois-Sec” Ardoin at Port Townsend, Washington, shortly before he died...

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Canray's talent was how he could blend ancient French songs with his own creole rhythms to create his own recognizable style in new songs. For example, his "Bonsoir Moreau" was unusual to Louisiana French music in that it was played in a minor key. Canray played it effortlessly in third position with so much emotion, and the bluesy context of the song really set it apart....

Canray Fontenot, sitting in his favorite rocking chair with fiddle in hand, singing and tapping out the rhythms on his hardwood floor with his bare feet, smiling and passing on forgotten songs whose poetry he lived through. His life was not easy, but he expelled his troubles through his music, a gift which he shared with his neighbors and the world. We mourn not just the man and his talent, but a soulful eyewitness to our musical history.

His voice has left us, but his soulful songs remain to remind us of what his grandfather used to tell him: "If you remember my song, you'll remember me."
- Michael Doucet

(Canray Fontenot)

O, bonsoir Moreau,
O, bonsoir Moreau
O, je connais c'est l'heure je
m'en vas
Bonsoir Moreau...

On a eu ici
un bon temps,
Un bon temps toute la nuit
O, je connais c'est l'heure je
m'en vas
Bonsoir Moreau...

O, la lune après se coucher,
Et le soleil après se lever
Et Caillette est pas tirée
Bonsoir Moreau...

Added by : jameselair

[English translation]
Goodnight Moreau, goodnight Moreau
I know it's time for me to go
Goodnight Moreau, goodnight Moreau

We have a good time here
A good time all night long
I know it's time for me to leave
Goodnight Moreau, goodnight Moreau

The moon is setting
The sun is rising
And my cow isn't milked
Goodnight Moreau, goodnight Moreau

posted by joshisanonymous, 2013, [Example #2 below]

Example #1: Bonsoir Moreau

meloderon , Uploaded on May 29, 2007

Bois Sec Ardoin and Canray Fontenot.

Two great men for Creole,Cajun and Zydeco music.
Comments from that video's discussion thread:
mairabella, 2007
"thanks so much for posting this video. Canray Fontenot was a pure soul and should be remembered and admired"

pomea. 2007
"Greatly improved audio! Wow. I wonder what in the world these Newport folks thought about that? There's no way they had heard this Creole and Cajun music before so unadulterated."

pomea, 2007
"Just adding that on this trip to Newport in 1966, the men in the background playing triangle are probably Revon Reed and Isom Fontenot. Hard to make out."

dbd1353, 2008
"Folks Like Canray and Bois Sec way, way back in the day really weren't supposed to play blues so they put a blues song to Waltz time and came up with this..It's great stuff. Theres actually a dance that goes with it as well, called the Baisse-Bas..A very cool dance, not really a waltz although you could.."

gazzi22, 2008
"My great grandfather you to sing this same song!"
you=[probably] a typo for “used”

Example #2: Canray Fontenot: Bonsoir Moreau (1983)

Alan Lomax Archive Uploaded on Dec 13, 2011

Canray Fontenot performs "Bonsoir Moreau" at his home near Eunice, Louisiana. Shot by Alan Lomax and crew in August 1983. For more information about the American Patchwork filmwork, Alan Lomax, and his collections, visit [137X]
Selected comments:
Mojooverlord, 2013
"Can anyone translate the words? The song inspires awe in me."

jumperontheline, 2010
"What a beautiful man : ) I love the way he keeps time with his foot ... sounds like Africa ...
Such a wonderful culture ... J'adore ..."

LKathyRunkle, 2010
"This is so neat. Love the bare-footed musician and the beautiful backdrop. And is he singing in French?"

quipsteron8, 2010
"@LKathyRunkle das cajun, mama. .... yes, its french."

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