Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"L'anse Grise" by Bryan Lafleur

Accordion: "L'anse Grise"
Builder: Bryan Lafleur
Years: 2007-present

According to Bryan:

I was born and raised in the little community of L'anse Grise, just north of Mamou, La, in the northwestern edge of the French part of Louisiana called Acadiana.  It was an area that, not too long ago, was totally French in language and custom. I am now living and raising a family about 75 miles east of Dallas.

At 18, I left home for the Marine Corps, then moved to the Dallas, TX. area after my discharge.  Though I was always intensely interested in Cajun music and culture, after I left home, I put it in the back of my mind while I experienced all that the "outside world" had to offer.  Somewhere around 2000, my dad sent me 2 cassettes for my birthday, one of Iry Lejeune, and one of the Balfa Brothers. Those cassettes woke up what had been a sleeping interest in the Cajun culture and music with a vengeance.

My first goal was to learn the language well enough to understand the lyrics to the music, then I thought it would be cool if I learned the language well enough to have a conversation with my parents in Cajun French, their first language.  With their help I accomplished those goals to a decent degree.

My next thought was to learn to play the accordion I loved so much.  I had never played any instrument and had no music knowledge whatsoever.  While debating whether it was worth the expense of buying an accordion in the off chance I could learn it well enough to play with my dad, a family friend, out of the blue, asked if I was interested in an old Hohner 114 accordion that had been sitting in her closet for many years.

That poor little accordion not only saw me through my clumsy early months, but also became the subject of many experimental modifications.  As I do with all things, I looked at it wondering if I could build one.  After talking to Larry Miller, an accomplished accordion builder and cultural ambassador from Iota, La.,  who first tried to talk me into giving up the idea and going fishing, I became more determined to give it a shot.  I bought enough parts for my first box from Larry, who was also very generous in offering pointers once he saw I was too hard headed to give up the idea.  I then visited with a friend in Orange, Tx, Jude Moreau, who very generously showed me many things I would have taken many years to figure out.

Then, being as sentimental as hard headed, I scoured my grandfather's old barn in L'anse Grise for an old piece of wood suitable for a first accordion.  I found one piece of very old red cypress, exactly big enough for one accordion with none to spare.  Then began a journey in challenge and frustration, but about 4 months later I had a playable accordion.

My goal isn't just to make accordions, it is to make good accordions.  I'm enjoying experimenting with custom touches and with what affects the sound coming out of these contraptions.  I enjoy working with a customer in coming up with custom touches that would make the accordion more dear to that person.

In building my accordions, I wanted to remain traditional in form, but incorporate my own touches.  I turn my own stops, and use custom made corner hardware.  I enjoy making accordions to a customer's special wishes.  I feel it makes it more special to a person if the accordion they had built has unique touches.

881 VZ CR 4210
Athens, Tx 75752

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