A talk about the dying tradition of Cajun harmonica, made popular by this Mamou musician
Hi, I’m Mitch Reed. Welcome to my vlog today. My vlog is about a fantastic harmonica player that we have in Cajun music or we had in Cajun music. He passed away a long time ago, but his name was Isom Fontenot and he was from Mamou, Louisiana and he played a lot of interesting tunes. He played a lot of reels and Contra dances, waltzes, blues. A lot of his repertoire and his style seemed to me to be very almost French Canadian sounding or . My mom and dad are from Mamou. My father grew up visiting Isom Fontenot because he was the guy who worked on lawnmowers in Mamou and my father was very young in the 1950s. You’d go see Isom Fontenot if you wanted to fix your lawnmower or any small engine repair. And my dad said a lot of times he would have his harmonicas out while he was working on engines and he’d take a little break, smoke a cigarette, drink some black coffee, and play a couple of tunes. My dad was always fascinated with Isom. He was such an interesting character.
So anyway, I thought I would just do a reel that he played just in remembrance of Isom Fontenot. We can’t forget him. You don’t really come across any Cajun harmonica players anymore. So it’d be great to see some people come and start learning the Isom Fontenot tunes, to come out and start playing his tunes again. So I play a little bit of harmonica, but nothing like Isom. He was just amazing and made the harmonica sound like an accordion basically. So this is one of the reels that he played. We just call it Isom Fontenot’s Reel. [01:49]
Woohoo! Isom Fontenot! Alright y’all, thanks so much for joining me today. Just honoring and remembering Isom Fontenot, a great Cajun harmonica player. There were some other harmonica players that recorded 78 recordings in the 1930s. Archie Lewis Mystrick was another one of those guys. There weren’t many. One of the things about the melodeon is that it’s very close to the harmonica. So I know there were a lot of great Cajun accordion players that also did play harmonica. When they couldn’t travel with their accordion, they would travel with a harmonica in their pocket, you know? So anyway, I hope you enjoyed that reel. Visit my website, MitchReedmusiclessons.com. I break down a lot of Cajun and Creole fiddle tunes. Check it out! Stay inspired and keep on fiddlin’. Don’t give up. Thank you. Have a great day!