Friday, February 12, 2016

"Choupique" by Jessie Brown

Accordion: "Choupique"
Builder: Jessie Brown

According to Jesse:

I was born and raised on a small rice farm outside of Eunice, LA, where Cajun and Zydeco music was so common, it wasn't really noticed as being anything special.  My grandfather, Eddie Brown, played the accordion for me and all of the grandchildren.  Eddie's accordion was special - it was built by "Nonc Sid" Sidney Brown.  Eddie's uncle had built the accordion years ago and it was still the front porch favorite all this time later. 

I remember honestly believing that as humans grew older their hair would gray, their eyes would go bad, and they would forget English and start speaking French.  C'est vrai!  I left home at 18 to work in the oil patch in northern Alaska.  It was my first real experience from home, and I was completely shocked. 

There was a small group of "coonies" (as we were called) that seemed to stick together.  It was the first time that I realized how different we were from the rest of America.  I was so homesick, I vowed that when I made it back to the bayou country, I would buy an accordion, and Paw Paw was going to teach me.

Later, I would take tape recorders and microphones to his home and record him and some of the old tunes to go back and learn.  On my way to a degree in Mechanical Engineering at LSU, I drove my college room mates crazy with my little Hohner.  I had no musical training at the time, and I basically just tried to play what I'd heard all of those old guys doing all of those years.

It didn't take me long to realize that I was outgrowing my instrument.  The Hohner was a good student level model, but it did have limitations.  I ordered a hand built model from a friend and excellent musician, Mr. Kenneth Thibodeaux.  The difference in quality was amazing.  I understood that even the tiniest differences in quality in an instrument could make a huge difference in sound and playability not to mention the aesthetics.

I played with my beautiful wife for many years in a band called Choupique.  We still play today for local dances, festivals, weddings, and fais do dos.

I called Larry Miller of Bon Cajun Accordions to discuss an apprenticeship.  He took me on, and I spent quite a bit of time in his shop learning the trade of accordion building.  I have since opened "Choupique Accordions LLC" and now build my own high quality, custom built, 10 button Cajun accordions.  Nonc Sid would be fier.

Being a professional player myself, I have a full appreciation for the seemingly insignificant details that can separate a good accordion from an exceptional accordion.  I have also dedicated quite a bit of time to the art of tuning.  I call it an art because it's more than just numbers and electronic tuners.  I tune all of my boxes by ear.  It's the only way to get more than a stale sound from your reed banks and give the overall sound that extra bite!

Choupique Accordions is a small business located in Louisiana that manufactures custom 10 button "cajun" accordions.

Jesse B. Brown
1707 Lansdown Ave
Port Allen, LA 70767