Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All music comes from the Maritimes? - A deeper look into Maritime influence after reading Chris Rose's article "All Music Comes From Lousiana" in Oxford American Magazine!

All music comes from the Maritimes?

Seems like kind of a rash statement but I have a little bit of information to back this up. I recently picked up a copy of “Oxford American” magazine as it was recommended by a friend. I was told that every year they come out with a music issue so I was excited to check it out!

This edition of the magazine was dedicated to the music of Louisiana. It came with a CD to go along with the magazine so I could get to listen to the music they are writing about. This is great especially since I have very little knowledge about this music so far south.


The first article I was reading was written by Chris Rose and was titled “All Music Comes From Louisiana”. This article is based on Chris Roses backup to support the theory that indeed all (at least American) music comes from Louisiana (hence the title I guess).


He has a lot of solid backup here. A few key points are:

-          Jazz music is known to have started in the streets of New Orleans.

-          Rap music is believed by some to have originated in New Orleans. Slaves apparently came to New Orleans on ships and would gather in New Orleans, when allowed, and practice this new music form that we now call wrap.

-          As for blues, he gives Robert Johnson credit where credit is due but he stresses how the people who merged the blues into what it is today were from Louisiana. These musicians are unknown to me prior to reading this article but have sure been fun to research since. They are Slim Harpo, Lightin’ Slim and Tabby Thomas. These guys could be found at honkeytonks down south jamming away creating the basis of the blues we love so much today.

-          One of my personal favorite artists who originated down in Louisiana, Leadbelly! Leadbelly is a stranger to few who have a passion for music like me (and I assume anybody that would stumble upon this blog). His contribution to music was LEGEND…wait for it…ARY!! (Sorry, my wife bought me all of these seasons of ‘How I met Your Mother’ and I’m hooked!)

-          The icing on the cake of how music came from Louisiana is non-other than Buddy Guy. He was born in Louisiana in the 1930’s. He is well known as the creator of Chicago blues, but he originated from Louisiana! The rest is history I guess; Buddy Guy took it north and influenced all of the greats, notably Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan!

So why did this Maritimer get so intrigued by all of this history behind Louisiana music? One sentence really caught my eye in the article and got me doing some serious research:

“Perhaps no music conjures the richness of life’s emotional and literal journeys as that of the Acadians, who settled the southwestern bayous and prairies of Louisiana after their grand displacement from Nova Scotia in the eighteenth century.”


Reading something like this make me wish I paid a little more attention in history class back in high school. (Not as if they taught us local history, they were more interested in history that was far away from us. Perhaps I would have paid more attention had it been on something I could actually be interested in such as this… sorry.. I have to bitch a bit and try to justify why I failed history class in grade 11).

It is great to see that the Maritimes had such an influence in a culture that was known for creating (I will not go as far and say all music) but the majority of the music the North American world hears and enjoys today. Unfortunately it was under unfortunate circumstances.

A quick history on the Acadians. Who better to get this from than my sister who is a teacher, professor, and has more masters and degrees than a little brother can even keep track of.. Besides this, our parents are full blown Acadians (which makes me Acadian?? An English Acadian?? Hopefully she can tell me below if I am in fact Acadian). My sister Shannon Lee has nailed the Acadian French and has more knowledge than most on this topic!

Take it away Shannon Lee:

Yes, Brad, you are definitely Acadian.  You got all the Acadian music genes… I can’t even hum a tune, but I AM enthusiastic when I sing, even if totally off key!  Now, a history on the Acadians and Louisiana in fewer than 500 words…

Acadia was essentially la Nouvelle France in North America, following European occupation.  Both England and France colonized or settled in eastern North America, and both countries shared some similarities:  both were Christian, both had literate societies, though lots of the populations were illiterate, both understood agriculture and how to work the land, and both were attracted to the fish in the North American Atlantic.  Acadie, or Acadia, was established in todays’ Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and part of Maine, and was regarded as the “New France of the New World.”  By the mid 1700’s, France was establishing important fortresses like Louisbourg on l’Île Royale (now Cape Breton).  Beginning in 1744, but especially between 1755 and 1763, war happened in Atlantic Canada, with the English attacking Louisbourg during the Seven Years War, because the Acadians refused to pledge allegiance to the British crown (which means, they wanted to remain loyal to France, not England).  Thrown into the mix were the aboriginal peoples of Atlantic Canada, namely the Micmac, who were particularly amicable with the easy going Acadians.  The Acadian Expulsion, or Le Grand Dérangement, occurred during the Seven Years War.  Nearly 12000 Acadians were deported to England’s Thirteen Colonies, and some were even sent back to France, beginning in 1758.  The famous Treaty of Paris (1763) essentially had France surrender all land to England (the Micmac signed peace treaties with the English two years before), effectively ending the Seven Years War.  And so one-day-to-become-Canada became a primarily English-speaking country.

Of course, as evidenced by our family roots, some Acadians hid out in the woods with the help of the Micmac, and were not deported.  Some others returned years later, and so many Acadian families still live in the Maritimes, and we still have some wicked kitchen parties and awesome meat pies.  Many deported Acadians ended up in Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania (Virginia refused to accept them), Carolinas and Georgia (where many worked on plantations), and, of course France and England (as prisoners of war, often from Virginia). 

So, why didn’t I mention Louisiana?  Well, Louisiana was NOT a destination for deported Acadians.  However, Louisiana came under control of Spain in 1762, and many Acadians who were not too happy about the English treatment decided to pledge allegiance to Spain instead and settled along the banks of the Mississippi in Louisiana.  And so, their Nouvelle France “Acadian” title got a snazzy southern drawl, and “Acadians” became “Cajuns,” complete with spicy Spanish seasonings on old-fashioned Acadian dishes and music to play your spoons to.  I think many people nowadays have Disney’s The Frog Prince fresh in their pop-culture pockets, and have had a taste of Cajun music.  You’ll remember Ray the Lightning Bug from the Disney movie being in love with his beautiful Evangeline, who is named after the fictional character in Longfellow’s historical poem Evangeline, based on the events of the Acadian Expulsion.

The End.  By Shannon the Great (www.byshannonlee.blogspot.com)

Thanks Shannon Lee!

There is a cool timeline in this magazine as well, and the first item on the list is “1764 – The first Acadians arrive in Louisiana”. Everything starts after this event!

After all of this great research and backup done by Chris Rose for “Oxford American” magazine he brought my attention in full swing. The Maritimes had more influence on popular music than I ever could have imagined.

It is amazing to learn that the greats such as Leadbelly were influenced by people who originated from the Maritimes. Sure it may not have been in his blood but it absolutely would have had an effect on the culture surrounding him.

The level of influence on the culture would be hard to measure but any recognition in this is something we can be proud of!
Chris Rose. "All Music Comes From Louisiana." The Oxford American December 2012: 17-22. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.