A few versions of “The Lake Arthur Stomp” and a few stories.
Hi, I’m Mitch Reed. Welcome to my vlog. Today my vlog is on a tune called The Lake Arthur Stomp. When I started playing fiddle, I was about 14 years old and I started going to Marc Savoy’s jam on Saturday mornings and there weren’t many young fiddle players at the time. There were a lot of older fiddle players there and it was a great time. And they were really excited to see me, or see a younger Cajun musician that was taking up the fiddle, because a lot of people were playing the accordion. One of the first tests that you got tested on to see if you were going to be a good fiddler or not was you would get asked to play The Lake Arthur Stomp because The Lake Arthur Stomp was a hard fiddle tune. If you could play it and play well, you were going to be a good fiddler or you were a good fiddler. And so that was one of the first tests that I had to go through when I started playing the fiddle. So, of course, I think the first time I was asked over there, I didn’t really know it or I didn’t feel like playing it because it was a hard tune. And so I just thought it would be fun to talk about that today. I think the tune today has taken on a different identity. But back in in my time, it was definitely the tune that impressed people. Kind of like the Perrodin Two-Step is for accordion players especially.
But the thing I wanted to talk about today was there’s so many different versions of this tune and they’re all really fun and unusual. The three that stand out for me that I just always liked was Dewey Balfa’s version of it, especially on the record called Under the Green Oak Tree. I also loved Bébé Carrière’s version of it. Cause to me Bébé Carrière’s version was a Creole version. So much a funkier, kind of bluesier version. And then of course Dennis McGee’s version. He didn’t call it The Lake Arthur Stomp. He called it The Mamou One-Step. So that’s the same tune. And then I even learned a version from Mr. Adner Artigo. He played a version that’s really interesting to me. It was almost modal the way he played the A part. So maybe what I’ll do first, I’ll just play a version of it and I’ll play Bébé Carrière’s version. I like that one because it’s kind of funky. I love Creole fiddle. The Creoles, the way they played it, they just had more slides to it, maybe didn’t play as fast throughout. I think the more Cajun versions were a little bit more show-offy, kind of faster tempos. And this is kind of just groove fiddle, kind of groovy and funky. So this is The Lake Arthur Stomp. [02:57]
Alright, so The Lake Arthur Stomp. And that version maybe is not note for note like Bébé Carrière’s but that’s definitely influenced by listening to the Carrière brothers. You know, listenting to Bébé Carrière’s fiddle style. So the thing about Creole fiddle is that Creole and Cajun really is the same thing, just the Creoles had a little bit bluesier approach to the tunes but really play the same tunes. And going back in the 1930s when they were recording 78s, people just played what they called French music. It wasn’t Cajun or Creole, it was just French music. And it didn’t matter if you were black or white or whatever. It was just playing those certain tunes, you know, that people played at house dances and things like that. So I’ll play Dennis McGee’s interesting version. I’ll try it. It’s pretty crazy, but I like it. Again, it’s the same tune but just a little different approach. [06:01].
Alright! Awesome funky slides. Again, these are just me playing these tunes. I’m not playing exactly like the artists that I’m talking about, but I’m definitely influenced by their versions. So this other version is just the way Dewey played it with Marc Savoy, DL Menard on a record called Under the Green Oak Tree and that is my favorite Dewey Balfa record. And I just love the way Dewey’s fiddle sounded and DL’s guitar playing with picking the bass part, and of course Marc Savoy on the D accordion, which is really awesome. So I’ll play that one. So it goes like this. [08:23]
So the last version I’ll talk about that I’ve always loved and thought was really cool was Mr. Adner Ortego’s fiddle version of The Lake Arthur Stomp and he was a fiddler from Grand Prairie, Louisiana. And he was a fisherman, a potato farmer. He had a pecan orchard. I mean, this guy did all kinds of really cool stuff, made boudin and sausage, and he made fiddles. And because of his fishing career, he injured one of his fingers fighting this giant catfish that he caught in the Atchafalaya River. He got stung and really only used three fingers mainly. So he did a lot of slides and almost made him play in this modal kind of sound. So I’ll show you the way he played it. So it’s really fun because everywhere you’d go, every fiddler had a different version of it and it was just their way of playing it. And I think that’s what’s really interesting about this particular tune. So it goes like this. [11:14]
Alright! Just a few interesting things about The Lake Arthur Stomp, which is just one tune, but played by many, many different types of fiddlers down here. A lot of them dead and gone, but we still have their recordings and the tune still lives on and people play them a lot of different ways. So just something I was just thinking about that was kind of fun to talk about. So check it out, go on YouTube, or go on iTunes and look up “The Lake Arthur Stomp”. You’ll hear it played by a lot of different people, a lot of different ways. But those three or four ways were always my favorite versions. And yeah, I hope you enjoyed it today.
Stay inspired. Keep on fiddling. Keep digging deeper and deeper for old Cajun fiddle tunes because the Cajun fiddle is alive and well, but always overshadowed by the Cajun accordion. And so there’s so many neat old fiddle tunes that I’m afraid it might eventually be lost because the accordion can’t play them. And the accordion is kind of the main instrument in Cajun music, you know, so definitely keep it going. And I hope to see you again out there soon. Thanks so much for joining me today.