In a “Love in the time of Corona” message published last week on the Eunice, La.-based Cajun music record company Valcour Records website, label president Joel Savoy announced a novel web-only release geared to helping local musicians.
“Since we’re all in quarantine and all our creative friends are offering content for us to enjoy while we can’t actually be together, it seems appropriate for me to start a new Valcour Records project,” wrote Savoy.
“Now the tricky part is, I can’t invite anyone over for quaranTUNES! So this idea came to me and I hope y’all will enjoy it!”
The idea is After Hours at Valcour Records—a 21-song set of mostly previously unreleased material by some of Valcour’s (and therefore contemporary Cajun and roots music’s) top players, among them Feufollet’s Kelli Jones and Chris Stafford, former Red Stick Rambler Linzay Young, Foghorn Stringband’s Reeb Willms and Caleb Klauder, and Savoy himself.
Many of the recordings, as recalled by Savoy in his colorful annotations, came out of “post-mardi gras sessions” at his backyard one-room home studio, with noteworthy tracks including a cover of the Davis Sisters’ 1953 country classic “Rock-a-Bye Boogie” from Savoy, Kelli Jones, and Emma and Linzay Young; Jones’ great version of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”; Anna Laura Edmiston’s take on the Conway Twitty-Loretta Lynn hit “As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone”; a cover of the Louvin Brothers’ “Lorene” from Jones and Willms; and the cover of Ray Price’s 1954 country hit “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” from Jones and Savoy (with Linzay Young’s zydeco hype-man vocal) that Valcour released digitally in 2013 and quickly became—and until recently remained--the most requested song at Eunice radio station KBON.
"I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)"
Savoy also explained on the Valcour site that the reason for After Hours is that “as you know, a whole lot of the people on these recordings--all of them really--are struggling right now because every single gig they had was cancelled. So we’re offering all these previously unreleased (mostly) tracks to you for FREE--asking only that you use the DONATE button on the download page to give what you can.”
All of the proceeds, he added, will go directly to the “Lost My Gig” fund benefiting local musicians who make their living playing music and have sustained substantial financial loss due to coronavirus. The fund is a function of the Lafayette-based nonprofit Acadiana Center for the Arts, which serves the Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion Parishes that make up much of the Southwest Louisiana region that is known as Acadiana.
Savoy started Valcour in 2006, and has been recording digitally since 2010.
“It sure makes archiving easier than tape!” he said on his site.
“So over the last few days I’ve been going through hard drives, gathering songs from the past--things that I recorded here and there with a whole bunch of different friends. Sometimes it was a project that never took off, sometimes it was a one-off or an extra track that we didn’t know what to do with. More often than not, it was just what we wanted to do when we were all hanging out at my house having big extended family dinners after Black Pot [Festival], Mardi Gras, etc.”
The 21 songs selected, he continued, “make up a sweet little behind-the-scenes look at the community Valcour has loved and worked to promote these last 14 years, and I am really excited to have a chance to get them all out into the world at this apocalyptic moment. I think I have enough other tracks left to make another compilation at a later date, too, if I do enough digging!”
He noted that the compilation brings “so many lovely memories, and despite some wild juxtaposition of genre, it’s all beautifully Acadiana!”
“To me, what’s awesome is most of these folks are doing music different from what they are primarily known for,” he added via email.
“Y’all enjoy and please do what it takes to get through this,” Savoy concluded on the Valcour site. “Thanks for your support. See you on the other side of Coreauxna Virus!”