Dennis McGee

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For all fans of southern fiddling, a new Dennis McGee CD was quietly released last year called “Myself,” on Valcour Records.   Find it here.

Dennis McGee plays “Courtilienne” (Cotillion):

From Gerard Dole:

“Dennis McGee, who was Irish-American on his father’s side and French and Seminole Indian on his mother’s, was born January 26, 1893, at Bayou Marron (Evangeline Parish). He died in Eunice (Evangeline Parish) October 3, 1989. A fiddle player and singer, he recorded and performed between 1927 and 1934 with Sady Courville and Ernest Frugé, Angelas LeJeune, and with black Creole accordion player and singer Amédé Ardoin.

I had the chance and privilege to be introduced to Dennis McGee by Sady Courville in his Eunice furniture store during a field trip to Southwest Louisiana in the summer of 1975. My journal entry for the next day reads:

‘Wednesday, August 27, 1975: At around 3 in the afternoon, I went to Eunice to visit Dennis McGee in his little house. The old barber is so talkative that he almost immediately began telling me stories about his past and playing me old dances on the fiddle. He may very well be the only person who still knows them.’

With his consent, I opened my Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorder, hooked up a mike, and recorded this legendary fiddler who, to tell the truth, had been nearly forgotten by most people at the time.

[Himself] is a lengthy excerpt from those field recordings, in which you will be able to hear Dennis McGee play 19th-century ballroom dances, with clarity and energy, in his specific old-time Cajun style: Contra Dance, Varsovianna (“Valsurienne”), Mazurka, Gallop, Polka, Waltz, Cotillion (“Courtilienne”), Reel and Two-Step. To the greater delight of the listener, Mr. McGee occasionally comments on the variety of fiddle tunings and about the tunes themselves.”

 

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