Music in the Family Part II – Patureau

When I was young I thought I knew everything.  Understood everything.  What is it about the innocence of youth that makes people think this?  Is it innocence?  Yes, I guess it is.  Maybe a little bit of ignorance thrown in with it, though.  The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know everything.  Not even close.  When you are young, you know your immediate family and you kinda know your place in it.  When you start looking into family history, you realize that your family is much bigger and spread out.

This is particularly true for the idea of music in my family.  When my family had the Landry Family Band in the 70s and 80s, we (maybe I should say I) thought we were so innovative and different.  People would even say that it was “special” or “extraordinary.”  We weren’t famous or anything, but we did play together every week at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles.  We’d also play for events or parties.  It was pretty special, but it wasn’t the first time that family members performed music together.

Kelly's String Band

Kelly’s String Band circa 1890s performed in the Plaquemine, Louisiana, area.

Just look at this photo from the 1890s.  The name of the band was Kelly’s String Band and there were some family members in it from my Patureau family line.  In the front with the funny looking trumpet (not a string) is my great great uncle Alcide Patureau (my father was Bob Landry, his mother was Erie Patureau, her father was Max Patureau, and Max & Alcides’s father was Ferdinand Patureau who was originally from France).  Alcide’s (& Max’s) brother Omer is the one in the middle with the banjo.  The guy on the right with the mandolin is Alcide and Omer’s (& Max’s) nephew Ferdinand Hebert (son of Aline Patureau Hebert).  The two guys standing up are Nick Manola and Wade Landry.  I don’t know of any relation to them.

So at least 80 years before our Shakey’s day, there were family members performing for other people’s entertainment.  And I’m sure there were probably more before that in the unknown history of the family.  This is the earliest photographic record of a band in my family.  I’d love to know what they sounded like and what kinds of music they played.

Plaquemine, Louisiana, in 1894 - Patureau family

Omer Patureau and Ferdinand Hebert

I have this other photo of two of these members who must have branched out on their own with their dueling banjos. (Or maybe they were a duo before the band got together.  Not exactly sure of the date for the first photo.)  This is Omer Patureau and Ferdinand Hebert in a photo dated 1894.  Both photos show that they were taken in Plaquemine.

As I’ve said before, people in the past did not have as readily available access to entertainment and information as we do now.  Maybe when people came from their homes and listened to them entertain, they heard things like people saying they were “special” or “extraordinary.”  And maybe they were.

As I get older and particularly with the passing of both of my parents, I do look back at those times playing music with my family and they are special to me.  And they will become more special as time goes by.  This I do know.

 

Music in the Family Part I

I promised last week that I would post something about music.  I shared a post on Facebook this morning.  It was a video from two years ago of our Landry Family Band reprising an old Dixieland song “Jada.”  It was me, my sisters Karen and Jamie and my mom and dad playing at Villa Maria Retirement Center in Lake Charles.  We were all in town to find an assisted living home for my parents.  I didn’t realize at the time that it would be the last “performance” I would have with them.  A bittersweet video to watch.

Most people knew us as a musical family, but there have been many musicians in the family through the years on both sides of the family.  That made it difficult for me to decide where I would start this musical series.  But then that little video popped up today as a jumping off point.  So I’ll start the series by going back some years before the video I mentioned.  Some of you may be thinking of the Shakey’s days where the Landry Family Band had their heyday, but I’ve already shared that before.

Bucklin siblings in Hathaway with musical instruments

Betty Lou on baritone, Loris on trombone, and Austin with the uke in 1950 or so.

I’m taking it a little further back than that.  Shakey’s was 40 years ago and I’m going back 26 years before that when my mom Betty Lou Bucklin was a girl in high school.  This is a photo of her with her younger sister Loris and their brother Austin.  Mama played the baritone and aunt Loris played the trombone.  I’m not sure what Austin is doing with that ukelele.  He doesn’t seem to be very pleased with it.  Maybe it was out of tune or missing a string.  Maybe he didn’t think it went along with the baritone and trombone too well.  Whatever the case may be, he doesn’t seem happy in the photo.

But I’m happy that I found this photo.  I don’t ever remember seeing it when growing up.  I found the negative last year when I was going through some stuff that mom gave me.  The photo was taken around 1950, which was around the time that Mama met Daddy.  Young Betty Lou visited LSU in Baton Rouge on April 27, 1950, to compete in the State Music Festival Clinic where she earned a Superior rating on her performance on that baritone.

My mom was never good with directions.  I don’t know how many times she got lost when trying to get somewhere.  Most of the time it was a hindrance, but in this situation it proved to be beneficial.  She was at LSU and she needed help with directions.  The person she found to help was none other than a college student by the name of Bob Landry.  The other interesting thing about that meeting is that it was five years to the day prior to the birth of their second child, my brother Rob.

It was rather appropriate that their first meeting was centered around music.  My mom liked to tell that story about their encounter.  She kept the certificate she won that day and wrote a little bit about it on the back of it in 2013: “He’s been leading me around for over 60 years.”  Together til the end.

The Cows All Come a Runnin’ With a Moo!

1949 - Betty Lou charming the cows with Papi

1949 – Betty Lou charming the cows with Papi

For several years now, I’ve been sharing stories of the Adventures of Jacko.  As everyone knows, they are stories about the travels of me and my wonderfully charming sock monkey Jacko.  In the travelling song that Jacko and his mentor/grandfather Papi wrote, it mentions my mom and the fact that she used to play her baritone out in the fields of Hathaway until the cows would come.

I didn’t know that she had a photo of this until quite recently.  She has talked about her serenading activity for as long as I can remember.  I don’t know why she didn’t mention this photo or show it to me.  I mentioned this to Papi and he said he couldn’t imagine why his old Buddiloo never showed me this photo.

“Of course,” he said, “back then we didn’t see photos as soon as we took them.  But I do remember seeing it once.  I titled it ‘Nature Girl.'”

“‘Nature Girl’?” I asked, “Why did you call it that?”

“Well,” he said, “it was around the same time that Nat King Cole’s song ‘Nature Boy’ was playing on the radio.  That was really exciting.  Radio was one of the rare conveniences that we had out in the country.  There certainly wasn’t any air conditioner, so when Buddiloo would practice her horn, she liked to go outside.  She played all kinds of songs, but the one that the cows liked best was ‘Nature Boy.’  And every time they showed up, they said the same thing.”

“Of course they did,” I said.  “Mama always said they would moo at her when they showed up and it made her laugh.”

“Yes, sometimes she could be a silly girl.  It’s what I love the most about her.  But those cows kept trying to tell her something and she never listened.  I, of course, listened to them attentively.  I am a cow whisperer,” he said with more than a little pride.

“So what was it that they said?” I asked. “Were they making requests for different songs?  Or maybe for a different instrument?  Like a trombone?   Surely not a clarinet?!”

“No, no, none of that,” he said with a scowl.  “I see you inherited more than a little bit of silliness from your mom.”

“Whatever,” I said, “Just tell me what the cows said.”

“Okay, but it would be better if I sang it for you.  Since ‘Nature Boy’ was the song that they were drawn to, I decided to put the message into my own words for the song,” he explained.  “I call it ‘Nature Girl,’ hence the title of the photo.  It goes like this.”

He then started singing the song with a haunting melody.  It really was quite moving.  Here are the words:

Nature Girl

There was a girl, a very sweet and charming girl.

She liked to play her baritone all alone in the fields each day.

Her monkey friend would give a grin.

When she’d start to play.

And then one morn, a magic morn she played that horn.

And all the cows they gathered round.  Stood their ground.

This they said to her:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

is grass tastes great, but when brown it can burn.”

After sitting a while stunned by his performance, I shook myself back to alertness and asked,”Wait, does that mean that brown grass burns in the stomach or that it can catch fire?”

“Silly boy,” he said, “what is hay?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said sheepishly.

“If there are still any doubts in your mind about the answer to your question,” he continued, “just mention the words ‘grass fire’ to a herd of cattle.  It’s the quickest way to start a stampede.  When they would say the same thing over and over to Buddiloo, there was always a look of fear in their eyes.

“Now if there are any more questions, they can wait.  Jacko and I are going to the other room to watch a movie.  You can join us if you like…as long as you bring popcorn.”  At that he was off.

So that, my friends, is the story of this week’s photo.  Straight from the monkey’s mouth.

A Shakey’s Remembrance

June 17, 1976 - MountainMusic with the Landry Family Band

The Landry Family Band on the evening of June 17, 1976. We were playing the song “Mountain Music” with Bob on the guitar, Karen on the ukelele, Van on the bass, Al on the guitar, Jamie on the jug, and Betty on the piano.

Our family started playing at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Wednesday June 16, 1976.  We called ourselves the Landry Family Band.  This photo was taken on our second night of playing on June 17 – before we had the uniforms that show up in the later photos of our performances.

The anniversary almost slipped by me!  I had intended for the 40th Anniversary of playing at Shakey’s to be the main story for my Throwback Thursday series for today.  I didn’t think about it when I started my Wednesday evening preparations.  I’m kind of glad that I forgot, because I really like the feel that the story about my mom and her grandfather evokes.  But if I had remembered, that story would not have been written.  So we have an extra installment today.  More for everyone!

Van Landry at Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Jan. 7, 1978.

Van Landry singing at Shakey’s on Jan. 7, 1978.

Dec. 23, 1978 at Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles, LA

Bob on the trombone, Jodie on the bass, and Rob on the trumpet were all part of the Landry Family Band. This photo was taken December 23, 1978.

1978-12-23 - Karen

Karen was at Shakey’s the most. Besides singing there with the family, she also worked there while she was in college. Here she is on Dec. 23, 1978.

Jamie singing at Shakey’s on April 21, 1978.

The Landry Family Band at Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Dec. 23, 1978.

This was one of the few times that the whole family was there. It was just before Christmas in 1978. There’s Bob on the bass, Jamie, Van with trombone, Karen, Rob singing, Jodie with flute, Al with guitar, and Betty on the piano.

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