Jeanie McLerie and Frannie Leopold are the Delta Sisters. Beautiful but cutting harmonies of traditional and country tunes and a couple of originals, they are joined by some of the best folk musicians in California. This is an updated version of the original LP from the late 70’s. There are some new tracks. The Delta Sisters still get together to play for fun and gigs.
The Story of the Delta Sisters and the Old Timey Hotel
Once upon a time, Frannie lived in her car and Jeanie lived on the road. They met at Sweetsmill while cutting up chickens for a big feast. They became good friends, and soon after, Frannie built a house in the woods behind Peter’s house in East Caspar, California. It is a quiet house with no phone and only trees for distraction. This house became known as the Old Timey Hotel, a
refuge for homeless or “on the road” musicians, as well as a honeymoon cottage, a birthing center, and, most of all, a fantastic place to make music. The old redwood walls seem to encourage it and the “music police” are far away. The hours of music that have filled this house are uncountable, but are audible in the Delta Sister’s music, which is influenced and fed by the many musical friends who have passed through the Old Timey Hotel. The thing that unifies these influences is a unique vocal and harmonic blend.
There is a Louisiana branch of the Old Timey Hotel out on a prairie near Chataigner, better know as the Buvette. This 150-year-old cedar and cypress house was once a store, later a place to hide prohibition liquor, an animal barn, and thanks to Marc and Ann Savoy, a place for Jeanie and Ken to live while absorbing Cajun culture.
Many friends have passed through to partake of cayenne pepper and French music.
Any house that cannot be locked, that can be warmed with wood and filled with music, doors open to those who share, could be an Old Timey Hotel.
1993 UPDATE. For the last twenty years, THE DELTA SISTERS have been singing their special blend of mint julep vocals and hot peppered dance music.
Frannie is a musician and midwife in Mendocino, California, and Jeanie is a musician and a fiddle teacher for kids (The Fiddling Friends) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Frannie plays music up and down the west coast with friends and most notably Hank Bradley and Cathie Whitesides in the Balkan Café Orchestra.
Jeanie plays mostly in the southwest with her husband Ken Keppeler, Bayou Seco and local traditional musicians.
Despite all the miles between them, Frannie and Jeanie have continued to play and sing together. The October ‘93 sessions were done at Ubik Sound after a two week New Mexican tour. They chose to record the new cuts in the old fashioned way around one microphone – a Neumann Stereo, using modern DAT technology. “You mix the room. It’s like real music in a kitchen” say Frannie.
2005 UPDATE. Frannie: During the last 10 years she has developed a passion for Mexican/Latin Music and has performed traditional duetos with Cynthia Llano. Her home band is Girls Night Out with Peter – mostly an old time band with three part harmonies and multi-ethnic explorations. She still plays with Hank Bradley and Cathy Whitesides in the Balkan Cafe Orchestra.
Jeanie: She now lives in Silver City, N.M. and continues to teach traditional fiddle styles to mostly young people. Her passions remain travelling, and playing music in Europe with Ken each summer, and gardening when at home. Bayou Seco has released seven CDs since 1993.
1. Quelle Etoille (L. Leveryne and S. Bergeron, Flat Town Music) 2:35
2. North Carolina Home (Trad./McLerie) 3:14
3. Singing My Troubles Away 2:58
4. T’es Petite Et T’es Mignonne
5. I’m At The Mercy Of Love
(Davis/Coots – Mills Music, Inc. ASCAP) 4:27
6. Texas Girl 3:35
7. Lovebridge Waltz (I. LeJeune – TEK Pub., BMI) 3:31
8. South (Trad./Leopold/McLerie) 3:25
9. Tourne, Tourne, Bebe Creole (M.Hindenoch) 3:59
10. Don’t You See That Train (Paul Edgar Johnson – Tampoul Music, BMI) 3:35
11. Le Blues Me Prend (J. McLerie) 2:39
12. Blue Railroad Train (Alton & Rabon Delmore –
Viador Pub., BMI) 3:09
13. La Vie Est Bonne (J. McLerie) 3:24
14. Las Campanas Del Olvido 3:35
15. If It Ain’t Love (Razas/Redman/Waller – Edwin H Morris, Ann Rachel Music, Essex Music, Words & Music, Inc. ASCAP) 4:14
Total Time: 54:01
About the Songs
1. Quelle Etoille – A terrific, danceable Cajun two step. Our friends who have passed on still twinkle in the sky every night.
2. North Carolina Home – An old time string band song from the Carolina Tar Heels, that Jeanie updated with a verse about her beloved New Mexico.
3. Singing My Troubles Away – After going up in the hot air balloon, Ziggy Stardust, Frannie realized that the first verse describes what happens up there – your troubles go away to the wind. This song can be invoked to get rid of troubles. Try It! Thanks to W. B. Reid for uncovering this Delmore Brothers gem.
4. T’es Petite Et T’es Mignonne (You’re Little and You’re Cute, But You’re Too Jealous To Be My Sweetie Pie) – We’ve been singing this Cajun waltz for fifteen years. Jeanie wrote the second verse and Yasha and Carrie Aginsky wrote the third verse to add a positive twist.
5. I’m At The Mercy Of Love – From the singing of Fats Waller. Stewart Mennin played some lovely clarinet on this one. Frannie says, “This is the song I was singing when I went into labor with my daughter, Julia. I was truly at the
mercy of love.”
6. Texas Girl – A wonderful old Carter Family song I learned while living in England during the mid-sixties. Sara and Maybe have always been my heroines. Frannie and Jody’s harmony complete the picture. – J.McL.
7. Love Bridge Waltz – La Valse du Pont d’Amour – a well-known Cajun tune about loving and leaving, first recorded
by Iry LeJeune. Gene Parsons plays pedal steel and harmonica, giving it a more contemporary sound. – F.L.
8. South – A cheerful, swingy kind of tune. During the last few years, Jeanie and I have shared adventures of music and food and great hospitality in the Cajun area of Louisiana. We have developed our own ideas about the South and wrote the second verse and bridge as a joint effort. – F.L.
9. Tourne, Tourne, Bebe Creole – A song about dancing and singing written by Michael Hindenoch in Paris, France. – J.McL.
10. Don’t You See That Train – This is a Delmore Brothers song we learned way back when we started singing together. It’s fun to sing because of the close harmony. The melody shifts back and forth between the two parts. Jody plays his Australian guitar on this one and adds a third harmony on the chorus. He also bullied Gary, our recording engineer, into recording it without Dolby. – F.L.
11. Le Blues me Prend – I dreamed the words to this song shortly after moving to Louisiana. It’s about working in the garden, and playing my fiddle all night. and being loved. What I do when the blues get me, and what you can do about it if they get you, in three verses. – J.Mc.L
12. Blue Railroad Train – This is another Delmore Brothers song. It’s full of romantic notions about trains when it was easy to catch them and ride them for free. -F.L.
13. La Vie est Bonne – A song I wrote in reaction to the ”tu m’as quitter pour t’en aller” (you left me to go away) school of Cajun songs, and about the good life. Getting up in the morning and drinking tea with my greatest companion, going to work, coming home and eating a good dinner, doing the dishes and playing music together. Recorded in Louisiana right before a crawfish feast. Life is good, mais yeah! – J.McL.
14. Las Campanas del Olvido – I first heard this song on a Los Incas record. It’s from Columbia and it’s about the slow burning passions of Love. The second verse is about meeting at the beach… Will Spires and I both play nylon string guitars and Jeanie plays Charango. – F.L.
15. If it Ain’t Love – “then it must be some magic art” is the only answer in this beautiful Boswell Sisters song of questions. Suzy and Eric Thompson fill out the vocals and instrumentals in a session the day after they were married in Caspar, California. We were all feeling in Love. – F.L.
This re-released album is lovingly dedicated to the fond memory of Rodney Balfa, A.J. Soares, Virgil Bixby and Rose Barg.
The Delta Sisters
Frannie Leopold – high vocals and guitar
Jeanie McLerie – low vocals, guitar, fiddle, and charango
Jody Stecher – supporting vocals and lead guitar on Don’t You See that Train, Texas Girl; fiddle on Le Blues me Prend.
Will Spires – guitar on Campanas; fiddle on Lovebridge Waltz and Tourne, Tourne,.
Gene Parsons – harmonica on Don’t You See That Train, Le Blues Me Prend, Lovebridge Waltz; pedal steel on Lovebridge Waltz; bass on Texas Girl and Blues me Prend.
A.J. Soares – guitar on Tourne, Tourne, South, Lovebridge Waltz, and Blue Railroad Train; mandolin on Blue Railroad Train.
Sue Draheim – fiddle on South and Blue Railroad Train.
Suzy Thompson – high vocal and fiddle on If It Ain’t Love; Fiddle on La Vie est Bonne.
Eric Thompson – guitar on If It Ain’t Love and La Vie est Bonne.
Ken Keppeler – accordion on La Vie est Bonne (inspiration too), Quelle Etoille, and T’es Petite; harmonica on Singing My Troubles and N.C. Home.
Jim Noyes – bass on If It Ain’t Love.
Gary Peterson – bass on Don’t You See That Train, South, Lovebridge Waltz, and Tourne, Tourne.
Karl Stalnaker – bass on Quelle Etoille, T’es Petite, Singing My Troubles, N.C. Home and Mercy of Love.
Terry Bluhm – guitar on Singing My Troubles, N.C. Home
and T’es Petite.
Stewart Mennin – clarinet on Mercy Of Love.
Quand le Blues me Prend
©Jeanie McLerie 1980 Flying Fish Music
Oh quand le blues me prend, quand le blues me prend
Je peux pleurer, j’peux crier j’peux me souler.
Je peux fumer un bon ’tit joint, travailler dans le jardin,
Jouer mon violon pour tout la nuit.
Quand les blues me prend, y’a quelqu’choses que tu peux faire,
Tu peux me serrer bien fort dans tes bras.
Et si tu dit tu m’aimes, c’est quelqu’choses bien mieux,
Et mes blues s’envole comme un oiseau.
Quand les blues vous prend, si les blues vous prend,
Pas de blame, pas deséspoir, prends donc courage.
Come les grands vents dans un orage, ça passe avec le temps,
Et le soleil vas briller encore une fois.
When the blues get me, I can cry, yell, or get drink, or work in the garden or play my fiddle all night.
When the blues get me, you can hold me tight in your arms and tell me that you love me, and my blues will fly away like a bird.
When and if the blues get you, don’t blame, don’t despair, take courage.
Just like the big winds in the storm, they’ll pass with the time and the Sun will shine again.
La Vie Est Bonne
© Jeanie McLerie 1981 Buvette Music
Soleil Après se lever, et ça commence un autr’ journée,
Je bois mon thé, toi ton café, la vie est bonne, la vie est bonne.
C’est l’heure de partir pour faire nos jobs, tu repare les chars, moi je couds les cols
Gagner la vie, c’est pas toujours drôle, mais la vie est bonne, la vie est bonne.
Soleil apres se coucher, on se retrouve à la maison,
Tu fais un feu dans le stove du bois, cuire les patates, les patates douces.
Coush coush c’est paré, la moutarde fraîche du jardin, les jolies fleurs dessus la table,
Merci bon Dieu, la vie est bonne.
La vaisselle c’est tous lavée, tu trap ton accordion, moi, mon violin,
On joue les tunes, chante les chansons, comme la vie est bonne, la vie est bonne.
La vie est bonne, la vie est bonne, tu connais la vie est bonne,
Je te guarantie la vie est bonne, la vie est bonne, mais yeah, la vie est bonne.
The sun is up and it’s a brand new day, I drink my tea and you your coffee, Life is good, life is good.
It’s time to go do our jobs, you fix cars and I sew on collars (at the time I was working at the Jantzen factory in Eunice)
Earning a living isn’t always fun, but life is good anyway.
The sun is going down, we are back home, you make a fire in the wood stove to cook some sweet potatoes.
The coush coush (corn meal mush) is ready, there’s fresh mustard from the garden and pretty flowers on the table, thank you God, Life is good.
The dishes are all washed, you pick up your accordion, me, my violin.
We play some tunes, sing some songs like Life is Good.
Life is good, life is good, you know life is good, I guarantee you life is good, life is good, but sure, life is good.
La Vie est Bonne recorded on 4-track at La louisianne Studios, Lafayette, LA, by Carol Rachou, Jr. – January, 1980; mixed by William Wright at Rooster.
If It Ain’t Love recorded on 8-track at Studio C by Phil Hayward on January 5, 1981, in Comptche, CA; mixed by Frannie Leopold and Louie.
Quelle Etoille, North Carolina Home, Singing My Troubles,
T’es Petite, Mercy of Love recorded at UBIK SOUND by Manny Rettinger and Chris Purrington, Oct. 3&4, 1993, Albuquerque, New Mexico on a Neumann Sterio Mic, Direct to DAT.
Everything else recorded on 8-track at Little River Studio in Little River, CA, by Gary Peterson between August and December, 1978; mixed by Gary and Frannie with some help from A.J. and William Wright.
This record was made on a shoestring and the promise of a soak in the hot tub after a session.
This record could not have been made were it not for all our fine friends, musicians, recording engineers, Rooster Records and UBIK Sound. We are grateful to all who gave their time, energy, and good advice to make it possible.
Thank you, The Delta Sisters
Produced by The Delta Sisters
Cover Design and Layout: Ken Keppeler
Executive Producer: William Wright
Photography: Peter Barg, Ken Keppeler and Helen Muller.
Digitally remastered at Ubik Sound by Manny Rettinger.
(Rooster records burned down along with the masters, so all we had was a virgin vinyl copy.)
Other Recordings with the Delta Sisters:
(Available from Bayou Seco)
Following in theTuneprints (Ubik 25) – Bayou Seco – 1995
20 Years Happy in the Bewilderness (Zerx 51)– Bayou Seco
You can reach Jeanie at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
PO Box 1393, Silver City, NM 88062
tel: 575) 534-0298
You can reach Frannie at:
PO Box 1093, Mendocino, CA 95460
Tel: 707) 964-0017