Cajun music legends two-step Curley at 87
The sound of an accordion filled Tony and Karen Fuselier’s front yard Sunday afternoon. The music came from Andrew Cormier, one of the best-known accordion players to come from the Southeast Texas area. He was seated at a table on Fuseliers’ patio, playing whatever came into his head.
Across from Cormier was Jesse Domingue, another local music legend. Domingue is a great artist on his Gibson guitar. The two men have played together many times and many places over the past decades. They were for the eighty-seventh-birthday party for Albert “Curley” Courville.
The stories came fast and furious while they waited for Curley. Cormier would play softly on his green accordion made by Martin Music Company of Scott, La. His other accordion, the one with a natural finish, sat on the floor by his side. That one was also Louisiana made, by Acadiana Music Company of Eunice, La.
Cormier was dressed in khaki shorts and an orange tee shirt, and Domingue wore slacks and a polo shirt. They were clearly old friends and having a good time.
The stories were about playing in some of the area clubs in the area in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They talked about the big clubs that played Cajun and country music, like Yvonne’s in Beaumont, the Rodair Club in Port Acres, and the original Sparkle Paradise in Bridge City, the wood-frame building that burned and was replaced by the last edition. Cormier said that at one time, he could have bought the Rodair Club for $11,000. He would play the Rodair one night and the next gig would be at the Music Box across the highway.
Domingue played the same clubs during the same time frame and they often played together. They remembered some of the great musicians of the time, like Rufus Thibodeaux, who they consider the best fiddle player they ever heard. Cormier would talk of Thibodeaux and play “the air fiddle,” describing how the fiddler would move his fingers on the neck. They told stories about Lefty Frizell, Dallas Roy and many others. It was a lesson in local music history.
Cormier came to this area in 1954 at age 18 and is still going strong. He had a gig Monday night in Austin at the Broken Spoke. He played with Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys, Charles Ray Thibodeaux and Asleep at the Wheel.
Domingue came to the area in 1973. He is also still active in music in the area. He says that one of his last shows was in Orange, “there were four in the band over 80 (years old) and I’m 64.” He can be found with his Gibson every other Friday night at Toup’s Marina in Bridge City, playing with Ralph Richardson. Domingue has several CD’s recorded and usually has some for sale with him on the bandstand. The CD’s can also be found at Lenor Records in Jennings, La.
”It’s a shame that there are no places left for people to go hear good music and dance like they could do years ago,” Domingue says.
One of my big songs was “Talkin’ Trash.” “It made the radio in New Orleans; it was used as a commercial for a garbage company,” he says. He plans to work one more year at “my real job” before retiring.
The guest of honor, Curley, arrived looking years younger than his age. He retired from the Gulf Refinery in 1981 as a pipefitter. Since that time, he has been hunting and fishing and has gone to Hawaii every two years until recently. He is a great gentleman who still loves to dance loves music and drives his own car. It turned out that Curley and I knew each other from our years with Gulf and it was good to see an old friend. He seemed pleased to see his friends and was enjoying himself visiting.
“My birthday is tomorrow, but this is really nice” Curley said. A soft-spoken man, he had kind words for everyone. When he was taken inside and shown the table loaded with food and the large cake in the middle he beamed.
Fuselier said he had the party for Curley “because he’s my friend.” He and Karen spared no expense for their friend.
Curley, Tony, Andrew, and Jesse share the common bond of loving music and years of friendship. Andrew and Jesse perform, Tony was a music promoter before he and Karen opened the Cajun Corner Furniture business, and the birthday honoree loves to listen and dance.
Fuselier says “you treat good people good.” The group at the party is living examples of the statement.