I think some of the buzz about Iry LeJeune going on is due to the release of a new book entitled Iry LeJeune: Wailin' the Blues Cajun Style, by Ron Yule with Ervin LeJeune (link above). Foreword by Ryan Brasseaux, chapter on Iry's accordion style by Chris Miller.
Mr. Yule (a master fiddler himself) had the complete cooperation of the LeJeune and Vanicor families.
The book has what I consider to be the most thorough and engaging portrait yet of Iry and his music, his times, and his legacy. I believe it is destined to become an essential for anyone interested in Iry and his place in Cajun music and culture.
I got my copy this week and haven't put it down yet. It's short (143 pages, with about 80 pages of the main text, and the rest as appendices. Includes song lyrics in both Cajun and English, many photographs never seen before, a chapter on Iry's accordion playing, shots of the labels for all the songs, and a frank interview with Eddie Shuler who recorded him for the Goldband label.
I learned many facts that I never knew before, such as things about his disability, his attendance at the Louisiana School for the Blind, his visits and his busking in New Orleans, his exposure to cosmopolitan influences in New Orleans, his travels with Virgil Bozman's Oklahoma Tornadoes across the South including Nashville, his dogged determination to be heard and recorded, his experiments with home recording and desire to release his own record label, and the milieu in which Iry lived. Interesting facts about Iry's life intersecting with the lives of so many other well known figures in Cajun music history, including Amede Breaux, Nathan Abshire, Will Kegley, Ernest Fruge, J.B. Fusilier, and many others.
The CFMA (Cajun French Music Association) of Eunice is having a book signing party, from what I understand, though I don't have the date. Contact CFMA Eunice if interested.
I sincerely hope that Barry Ancelet and the Liberty Theater in Eunice will view the book's release as an important event and occasion to pay homage to Iry by hosting a tribute in the near future via KRVS Internet radio, Rendezvous des Cadiens.
Thanks, Neal, that is what brought on the discussion on La Tasse. They are apparently having a book signing also. Goes on my must have list. There was one caller to KVPI who mentioned being at that school with him, and told about him during breaks sitting in a school ground swing playing his accordion.
He is one i never get tired of and I still get the frissons when I hear his stuff.
Sorry Neal, I went the other way around and it came through so first thing Monday I'll order the book. I have what I think is all of his albums. Just need to clean the mud off them. The book will complament the whole thing.