The combination of fiddle and accordion became a staple of dances and parties in Cajun country (photo by Michael Miceli)
7-SONG HISTORY of the FIDDLE in the SOUTH
Although the fiddle traditions of Texas and the Appalachian regions were probably the most influential on today’s music, the unique Cajun culture of South Louisiana developed its own fiddle tradition. After accordions were introduced to the area in the late 1800’s, fiddle and accordion combos became popular. Fiddle players playing with accordions faced new sets of problems: the accordions were so loud they would drown out the fiddles, and fiddle players often re-tuned their instruments to fit in with the accordions. Nevertheless, fiddle and accordion combos were popular entertainment at dances and house parties. As societal changes in the mid-twentieth century opened Southern Louisiana to other influences, Cajun fiddlers expanded their vocabulary to add in elements of Western swing, country, and rock and roll. This recording of “Port Arthur Blues” by legendary Cajun fiddler Wade Frugé is an example of the older style of Cajun fiddle and accordion music: the fiddle and accordion trade off playing the melody, with a guitar providing a simple rhythm. Although the tune includes more embellishments than “The Arkansas Traveler,” both instruments stick closely to the melody, and the musicians focus more on providing a backdrop for dancing than showing off their skills.
To hear a first class example of Port Arthur Blues Fiddling go here: