Liner Notes and Lyrics for:

#1. RZ 1014 (1987) and LFM 0002 (1996)

 

LES FRERES MICHOT

E   l   e   v   é   s        à        P    i   l   e   t   t   e

 

The group's first album, "Elevés à Pilette," was released in vinyl and tape on the ARZED label in 1987, and re-released on the LFM label in cd and tape in 1996. That album was produced by Zachary Richard and was recorded at his home (Boudreaux Studio) in Scott, Louisiana.  Zach also sings background vocals on one of the songs (La Valse a Howard Hebert). The late Dewey Balfa is a guest musician (second fiddle) on four of the tracks.   Liner notes are also provided by Dewey; he presents a very moving treatise on the power of music, the power of family, and the warmth of a musical family.  The band on the album consists of the five brothers: Rick, Tommy, David, Bobby, and Mike; instrumentation is fiddle, accordion, acoustic guitar, petit fer, and contrabasse.  All songs are sung in French and a foldout booklet contains words to all songs in French, as well as the English translations and a short background on each song.

The album includes 13 tracks, 7 original and 6 traditional songs.  The songs are listed below.  To hear clips from these songs, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DHuucj89KA.

1. J’étais au bal (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

2. La Valse à Howard Hébert (Rick Michot)

3. Two-Step de Ste. Marie (Rick Michot / Bobby Michot)

4. Le Reel à Patrick (Rick Michot)

5. Une livre de tabac (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

6. Two-Step de Côte Gelée (Rick Michot)

7. La Danse de Mardi Gras (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

8. Two-Step de Pilette (Rick Michot)

9. La Valse de Platain (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

10. Breakdown de la Pointe de l’Eglise (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

11. La Valse de la Ville (Rick Michot)

12. Allons à la Queue de Tortue (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot)

13. Reprise de Mardi Gras (Dewey Balfa / Rick Michot)

"Elevés à Pilette"

recorded at Boudreaux Studios in Scott, Louisiana produced by Zachary Richard

engineered by Mark Robert

artwork by Megan Barra

photography by Philip Gould

Musicians: Rick, Tommy, Bobby, David, and Mike Michot

Guest musicians: Zachary Richard (2), Dewey Balfa (1, 2, 4, 7, 13), Tommy Shreve (1)

Tracks: 13

Released in vinyl and tape on the ARZED label 1987

and re-released on the LFM label in cd and tape in 1996 (LFM 0002).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DHuucj89KA

You know when I was a little boy, there was this man that came, a very highly respected person

in the Mamou area, called Michot. This was Louis Michot Sr., grandfather of the Michot brothers.

Even though grandpa Michot wasn’t there very long, “La Marque est toujours là.” And the thing I

remember that really warmed me was when all of the Michot boys came here. When we started

playing, I felt like this old house of mine was alive again. This is family. This is what we used to do

when my brothers were living. And I want to be part of it. Nobody realizes the power, the strength

that a musical family has. It reminds me so much of when me and my brothers used to get together

and have fun like that. There’s no money to buy that, baby - Heaven on earth. And there’ s no

power like family power. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s a “coup de main” when your house

burned down, you have to reroof your house, or you have to plow the lower part of the field

because one has been sick or it has rained, and a brother comes with his team. There’ s no power

like that in the world. The thing is the unity of family. And the unity of family also comes through

music.

Music is a language that everybody understands. I don’t care where you are from. Les Frères

Michot went to Poland playing their music, and the people’s attention was so tight; it was so good.

Music does that. Music and family does that.

There is a warmth in music. But there is also a warmth in family. You know, I could look at all of

these Michots, and there is so much warmth, so much togetherness. There’s something that happens

between those boys when they sing in harmony. Rodney and I were probably some of the

first Cajuns that did harmony. But when the Michots do it, singing like three or four of them, it

makes the little bit of hair I have left stand up. I believe that this album is really going to put out

the family togetherness. There is a message, a very, very powerful message. I think that this

album, in my heart, will relay this message.

Dewey Balfa

Les Frères Michot (The Michot Brothers) were all raised in an area of Lafayette Parish known

as Pilette. The community, named for landowner Pilette Comeaux, is located between Lafayette

and Broussard, and once featured a school, post office and store. When Rick and Tommy were

small children the family lived in a small wooden cypress house. As the family grew they moved

to a larger house in the next field, where several of the brothers still live. The five brothers were

all “élevés à Pilette” (raised in Pilette).

They play in the traditional “Bal de Maison” (house dance) style, using all acoustic instruments.

This style was prevelant when Cajun music was first recorded, before it was influenced by the

introduction of electrical amplification and drums.

1. J’étais au bal (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot; vocals by Bobby, Tommy, & Rick Michot) This song was first recorded under this name by Iry Lejeune. It could have been a rendition of an older tune recorded by Joe Falcon, “Je vas jamais boire encore” (I’ll never drink again).

J’étais au bal hier au soir.

Je vas retourner encore à soir.

Si l’occasion se présente,

Je vas retourner demain au soir.

Gardez donc les jolies filles,

Celle-là que j’aime autant.

Moi, je connais tout l’amour

Que moi, j’ai eu pour toi.

J’étais au bal hier au soir,

Tout habillé en noir.

C’est ça l’habit que moi, j’aime

Pour courtiser la belle.

A la fin, ‘tite fille,

Quoi faire tu me fais comme ça?

Quoi faire donc tu veux

T’en revenir á la maison?

J’étais au bal hier au soir.

Je vas retourner encore à soir.

Si l’occasion se présente,

On va courtiser les veuves.

Il y en a qui aiment les blondes,

Des autres qui aiment les brunes.

Moi, je suis pas comme ça.

Je les aime bien tout les deux.

I went to the dance last night.

I’m going back tonight.

If I get the chance,

I’m going to go again tomorrow night.

Look at all the pretty girls,

That’s the one I love so much.

I know all the love

That I’ve had for you.

I went to the dance last night,

All dressed up in black.

That’s the suit that I like

To court the pretty girls.

In the end, little girl,

Why do you treat me this way?

Why then do you want

To come home with me?

I went to the dance last night.

I’m going back tonight.

If I get a chance,

We’ll court some widows.

There are those who like blondes,

Others who like brunettes.

As for me, I’m not that way.

I like them both just fine.

2. La Valse à Howard Hébert  (Words and music by Rick Michot; vocals by Rick Michot, Zachary Richard)

To make a very long story very short, Rick met these people, Howard Hébert and his brother

and his sister, while he was working in Terrebonne Parish in the mid 1970s. He became very

close friends with them. They had no telephone or electricity, so when Howard died, they were

unable to contact Rick. Rick found out about Howard’s death a week after, and was greatly

saddened. About five years after that, Rick started learning to play the fiddle, and about a

month later, he wrote this song, his first Cajun music composition.

Howard Hébert était un vaillant bougre,

Ouais, et mon ami.

II a resté avec sa soeur,

Vraiment une jolie fille,

Et avec eux était une autre personne,

C’était un autre, un frère aussi.

Ensemble, comme ça, il y a un longtemps,

Ensemble, comme ça, il y a un longtemps.

Leur maison était un île de compagne

Dans une grande mer de ville.

Ils ont travaillé avec juste leurs mains,

On dit récolteur de la terre.

Howard a eu les yeux de bleu, une peau de brun,

Et cheveux pareil comme les nuages.

Tout seul, chaque samedi, il a marché au bal.

Tout seul, au soir, il a charmé les belles.

Toujours ils ont eu le temps pour les autres,

Travail et la vie, c’était la même.

Ils ont resté et écouté notre musique,

Français ou anglais, c’était pas rien.

Et quand il est mort dans les bras de sa soeur

Pendant fouiller des patates,

Son cercueil a resté dedans leur maison,

Pareil que son papa et sa maman.

Howard Hebert was a great guy

And a friend of mine.

He lived with his sister,

A pretty girl,

And also with them lived another,

A brother.

Together, like that, they lived for a long time.

Together, like that, they lived for a long time.

Their house was a island of country

Surrounded by a sea of city.

They worked with just their hands,

And were called dirt farmers.

Howard had blue eyes, brown skin,

And hair the color of the clouds.

All alone, each Saturday, he walked to the dance.

All alone, each Saturday, he charmed the beautiful ladies.

They always had time for others,

Working and living were the same.

They would stay and listen to our music,

No matter whether it was in French or English.

When he died in the arms of his sister

While digging for sweet potatoes,

His casket was inside the house,

The same as it was for his father and mother.

3. Two-Step de Ste. Marie (Words by Bobby Michot, music by Rick Michot; vocals by Bobby Michot) This song is about St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, where the mother of Les Frères Michot was born and raised, along the Lower Atchafalaya River. Les Frères Michot spent much of their youth in St. Mary. In the region, “Dégo” referred to an Italian shrimping family, without pejorative connotation.

J’ai pagayé mon ‘tit bateau.

J’ai trempé dans tous les clos.

J’ai bataillé les maringouins dedans les cannes.

Ayoù les serpents, ils vont glisser

De les chicots dans les marais.

C’est là où je vas, c’est pour chercher

ma chère ‘tite femme.

Les chevrettes et les Dégos,

Ils sont tous sur les bateaux

Pour manger et danser toute de la nuit.

Sur l’autre bord de la rivière,

Après se berser d’un gros chêne vert,

Je vas la joindre, ma ‘tite créole de Ste. Marie.

Elle est aussi la plus mignonne,

Dans la ville de Patterson,

Mais, ses parents voulont plus me laisser la voir.

Je peux pas la lacher dans mon coeur,

Et ma tête est rendu dure.

Je m’encourage qu’un jour à venir, elle sera pour moi.

Son papa, il est pas là,

II est après tirer les vaches.

Sa mama, elle est partie á la pêche.

Mais ‘garde, la chance est arrivée,

Et je connais je peux la voler,

Pour l’amener, ouais, au nord du Bayou Teche.

I paddled my little boat,

I tramped through all the muddy fields,

I fought with the mosquitoes in the cane.

Where the snakes, they will slide

From the stumps in the swamps,

That’s where I’m going to look

for my little woman.

The shrimp and the Italians,

They are all on the boats

To eat and to dance all night long.

On the other side of the river

Swinging from a big live oak tree,

I’m going to meet her, my little Creole from St. Mary.

She is also the cutest one

In the town of Patterson,

But her parents won’t let her see me anymore.

I can’t let her loose in my heart,

And my head has gotten hard.

I believe the day will come when she’ll be mine.

Her papa, he’s not there,

He’s milking his cows.

Her mama, she’s gone fishing.

And look, the chance has come,

And I know that I can steal her,

For to take her to the north of Bayou Teche.

4. Le Reel à Patrick (Music by Rick Michot) This reel, obviously influenced by Irish tradition, was composed by Rick, baptised Patrick.

 

 

5. Une Livre de tabac (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot; vocals by Rick & Tommy Michot)

This traditional song has a tune that goes back at least 400 years. There was an old Scottish whaling song in the 16th century

called “Farewell to my Tarawathee,” which has a similar tune. There is also an old bluegrass-old timey tune called “Jack

o’Diamonds” or “Rye Whiskey,” which has the same tune. There is also an old Cajun tune called “Travailler, c’est trop dur,”

which has a similar tune. The particular version chosen for this recording was first recorded by Les Frères Balfa. This version

includes a few adaptations and additions by Les Frères Michot. The lines about the singer getting his coat while his horse eats

the post may be an oblique reference to the tradition of giving a jilted suitor a coat as a sign of rejection, and to the probable

cause of this rejection, his poverty, since he was apparently too poor to afford better than a cribber (a horse who hooks his

upper teeth on a post to suck air).

J’ai fait l’amour chez ‘n onc’ Bob,

Ca m’a couté une livre de tabac.

J’ai fait l’amour chez ‘n onc’ Bob,

Ca m’a couté une livre de tabac.

‘n onc’ Bob a fumé jusqu’à sa vieille pipe a venu rouge.

‘n onc’ Bob a fumé jusqu’à sa vieille pipe a venu rouge.

Tante Bob a chiqué jusqu’à son vieux menton a venu vert.

Tante Bob a chiqué jusqu’à son vieux menton a venu vert.

Clémentine m’a embête et Ida veut pas de moi.

Clémentine m’a embêté et Ida veut pas de moi.

J’ai gaspillé proche toute ma vie après faire les malfaires.

O Prince, allons s’en aller.

Moi, j’attrape mon capot et toi, tu manges le poteau.

I courted at Uncle Bob’s house,

And it cost me a pound of tobacco.

I courted at Uncle Bob’s house,

And it cost me a pound of tobacco.

Uncle Bob smoked until his old pipe turned red.

Uncle Bob smoked until his old pipe turned red.

Aunt Bob chewed until her old chin turned green.

Aunt Bob chewed until her old chin turned green.

Clementine made a fool of me, and Ida doesn’t want me.

Clementine made a fool of me, and Ida doesn’t want me.

I wasted almost all my life doing wrong.

Oh, Prince, let’s go home.

I’m getting my coat, and you’re eating the post.

6. Two-Step de Côte Gelée (Words and Music by Rick Michot; vocals by Bobby Michot) Côte Gelée was the old name for the area around Broussard, which is where Les Frères Michot were raised, near a settlement called Pilette.

O bébé, quand j’ai découvert,

T’as eu une habitude de traînailler tous les soirs

Pas avec ton cher vieux negre.

Quand j’étais après travailler

Dedans mes clos,

Et là, j’ai vu un ‘tit morceau

De ta belle robe à parasol

Dessus une branche de cherokee.

Au commencement tu faisais

Un tas d’attention de pas réveiller

Moi et les ‘tits enfants.

C’est pas comme ca asteur.

Quand tu reviens à la maison,

Je suis après déjà tirer mes vaches

Avec un coeur aussi cassé

(Je peux te voir au coin de mon oeil)

Et mes larmes tombent dans mon lait.

Oh, babe, when I found out

You used to run around at night

Without me.

I was working

In my field

When I saw a little piece

Of your parasol dress

Hanging from a branch of a cherokee bush.

In the beginning, you were

Very careful not to wake

Me and the kids,

But it’s not like that now.

When you come back to the house,

I’m already milking the cows

With a broken heart

(I can see you in the corner of my eye)

And my tears are falling in my milk.

7. La Danse de Mardi Gras (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot; vocals by Bobby, Tommy, & Rick Michot)

This song is traditionally played during the annual Mardi Gras ride in certain southwest Louisiana communities. The lyrics

and melody recorded here were drawn from several recorded versions and adapted to the Michot’s unique vocal style.

Les Mardi Gras sen viennent de tout partout,

Tout l’entour, l’entour du moyeu.

Ça passe une fois par an pour demander la charité,

Quand même si c’est une patate, une patate ou des gratons.

Voulez-vous recevoir de cette bande de Mardi Gras?

Voulez-vous recevoir de cette bande de grands soulards?

Les Mardi Gras sen viennent de tout partout,

Principalement Grand Mamou.

Ça passe une fois par an, pour demander la charité.

Capitaine, Capitaine, voyage ton flag!

Allons aller chez l’autre voisin.

Demander la charité. Vous autres, venez nous joindre,

Vous autres, venez nous joindre, ouais, pour le gumbo ce soir.

The Mardi Gras riders come from everywhere,

All around the hub.

They pass once a year to ask for charity.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a potato or cracklins.

Would you receive this band of Mardi Gras riders?

Would you receive this band of big drunkards?

The Mardi Gras riders come from everywhere,

Mainly from Grand Mamou.

They pass once a year to ask for charity.

Captain, Captain, wave your flag!

Let’s go to another neighbor’s place.

To ask for charity. You all come join us,

You all come join us for gumbo tonight.

8. Two-Step de Pilette (Music by Rick Michot) This tune came to Rick in 1983 while he and Tommy were jamming in back of Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, Louisiana. The brothers liked it so much that they decided to call it the Pilette Two-Step.

 

9. La Valse de Platain (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot; vocals by Tommy & Rick Michot) This is a traditional song whose tune is known throughout southwest Louisiana by several titles, including “Ma Chère Bébé Créole,” “La Valse de samedi au soir,” “La Valse des Opelousas,” “La Valse de Tasso,” among others. This version is a derivation of one done by the Balfa Brothers, and sung by the late Rodney Balfa, as well as a version sung by the late Wallace “Cheese” Reed, with Frères Michot harmonies. “Platain,” in this sense, is a low area in a field which stays wet and cannot be plowed.

Rappelle-toi, catin, tout les promesses que tu m’as fait.

Tu m’as dit, chère, t’as trouvé un autre que moi.

Aujourd’hui t’es après me quitter dans les misères.

Les accroires, ‘tite fille, que tu m’as fait, chère,

Comment ça se fait, bébé, tu reviens pas avec moi.

Tu connais, mon cher ‘tit coeur, il pleure pour toi.

O yé yaïe, tout les soirs

Quand moi, je vas, ouais, là-bas,

Ouais, là-bas, chez Mémère,

Tout les soirs, j’ai rencontré les ‘tits canards.

‘tit canards mulés,

‘tit canards mulés,

‘tit canards mulés,

Bébé, ‘tits canards mulés.

J’ai rencontré, aujourd’hui, un bon temps.

Remember, dear, all the promises you gave me.

You told me, dear, that you found another.

And today, you’re leaving me with the blues.

The beliefs, little girl, which you gave me,

How is it, dear that you are not with me?

You know, my dear little heart cries for you.

O yé yaïe, every night

When I go over there,

Yeah, over there to Mémerè’s house,

Every night, I met only the ducks.

Little muley ducks,

Little muley ducks,

Little muley ducks,

Babe, little muley ducks.

I had a good time today.

10. Breakdown de la Pointe de l’Eglise (Traditional, arranged by Les Frères Michot; vocals by Tommy Michot) La Pointe de l’Eglise, or Church Point, originally known as Plaquemine Brûlée, is a small town located in the prairies of Acadia Parish, northwest of Lafayette. This song was first recorded under this name by Iry Lejeune, a legendary accordionist and singer from nearby Pointe Noire.

O yaïe, malheureuse, tout les jours

A la maison, après, mais, t’espérer.

O rappelle- toi , ‘tite fille, ton papa et ta maman

T’ont toujours dit pas faire ça à ton vieux nègre.

O yaïe, tous les soirs, après souffert

A la maison, il y a plus personne qui vient me joindre.

O ça me resemble, ‘tite fille, tu voudrais t’en revenir,

T’en revenir à la compagne où moi, je suis là.

O yaïe, miserable woman, every day

I’m home waiting for you.

O remember, little girl, your papa and your mama

Always told you not to treat your man that way.

O yaïe, every night, I’m suffering

At home, and no one comes to meet me.

O it seems to me, little girl, that you would like to come home.

Come back to the country where I am.

11. La Valse de la Ville (Words and music by Rick Michot; vocals by Bobby Michot)

The idea for this song originated in New Orleans which, in Cajun parlance, is referred to as “La Ville,” the City.

Tu m’as dit les paroles si douces,

Comme j’étais le seul pour toi,

Comme moi, j’étais ton cher vieux nègre,

Et t’as pas aimé un autre que moi.

Asteur tu dis le même,

Mais moi, j’apprends une autre manière.

Je crois c’est juste tout des menteries.

O yé yaïe, ça me fait du mal.

Tu m’as dit il était juste un ami,

Et comme un couillon, moi, je t’ai cru.

Tu m’as dit tu viendrais en ville,

Juste pour le dire un dernier bye-bye,

Mais la raison que je t’ai douté,

C’est pas le seul bye-bye t’as fait.

Quoi t’as fait après dire adieu,

O yé yaïe, ça me fait pleurer.

You told me such sweet words,

Like I was the only one for you,

Like I was your dear old boy,

And you never loved anyone but me.

Now you say the same thing,

But I’m learning something else.

I think it’s all a bunch of lies.

O ye yaie, it hurts me so.

You told me he was just a “friend,”

And like a fool I believed you.

You told me you would go to the city

Just to say one last goodbye.

But the reason for my doubt

Was that this was not your only last goodbye.

What you did after saying goodbye,

O ye yaie, that makes me cry.

12. Allons à la Queue de Tortue (Traditional, arranged by Les Freres Michot; vocals by Bobby Michot) Bayou Queue de Tortue runs through the heart of Cajun country in southwest Louisiana. It forms the southern and eastern boundaries of Acadia Parish with Vermilion and Lafayette Parishes. “Pain perdu” (lost bread) is made by dipping stale bread in cream and eggs, then frying it like french toast.

Allons à la Queue de Tortue,

C’est pour vivre sur le pain perdu.

Toi, maudit, ma ‘tite bouteille,

C’est la cause je suis saoul à la tête.

Si la belle, elle veut plus de moi,

Je suis parti pour m’en aller,

O. si loin, trouver une autre,

Ouais, là-bas dedans Grand Gueydan.

‘tite fille, quand je vas mourir,

Enterre-moi pas dans le cimetiere.

Enterre-moi donc dans le coin de la cour,

Dans le coin de la cour chez ton papa.

Chaque fois, moi, je passe devant,

Devant la porte chez ton papa,

Ton papa, il est si planté

Avec sa pipe au bec qui rit.

Let’s go to Turtle Tail Bayou,

To live on “lost bread.”

My damned little bottle,

That’s why I’m drunk in the head.

If the pretty girl doesn’t want me anymore,

I’m leaving to go away,

Oh so far away, to find another,

Yeah, over there in Grand Gueydan.

Little girl, when I die,

Don’t bury me in the cemetery.

Just bury me in the corner of the yard,

In the corner of the yard at your papa’s house.

Each time I pass in front,

In front of the gate of your papa’s house,

Your papa, he is standing firm,

Laughing with his pipe at his lips.

13. Reprise de Mardi Gras (Music by Dewey Balfa and Rick Michot)

Jamming between takes, Rick and Dewey came up with this magical version of the Mardi Gras song.