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Southward, Ho! SwamplandJewels Louisiana's Goldband Collection Comes to the University of North Carolina by Steve Green In spring 1995 the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill acquired a rich group of archival records from Goldband Recording Corporation , a small but important recording studio that has operated out of Lake Charles, Louisiana, since the 1940s. The Goldband Collection of approximately 6,000 sound recordings and thirty-five linear feet of paper-based records includes commercially released recordings, master tapes, Stu- Mr and Mrs Eddie shuler in a recent photo. Courtesy of the dio logs, business records, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. © Eddie Shuler. correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, promotional literature, and other documentation. Once the materials have been arranged and described, they will afford researchers in southern studies, American music, popular culture, folklore, and other disciplines an excellent opportu- _.... , , r . . , nityto studyavarietyoftopicsrelating Dunn8 the PaSt half century the to the postwar music industry and the Shulers have documented evolution of southern folk and popular traditional and popular music music forms between 1945 and 1985. forms and in many cases have helped create some of the Eddie Shuler and the Goldband South's most important and Enterprisedistinctive new musical styles Eddie Shuler was just twenty-nine ana Sounds. when he moved from his native Texas in 1942 to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to work as a dragline operator. He had little idea that music was to become the center of his world, but since then, Eddie and his wife, Elsie, 426Southern Cultures A recent photo of Eddie Shuler in the office of Goldband. Courtesy of the Southern Folklife Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. © Eddie Shuler. have been involved with music and with the constantly changing world of recording technology. Together, they have owned and managed a recording studio, several record labels, a music publishing firm, a television repair business, and a neighborhood music shop. During the past half century—with Eddie at the studio controls—the Shulers have documented traditional and popular music forms and in many cases have helped create some of the South's most important and distinctive new musical styles and sounds. It all began in the mid-1940s, when Eddie chanced to meet members of the original Hackberry Ramblers, a group of Louisiana musicians who had recorded their blend of Cajun and hillbilly string-band music for the Bluebird label nearly a decade earlier and who were still evolving in style and personnel. A brief performing stint with the Ramblers provided Eddie with an outlet for his informal pastime of songwriting. Encouraged by the obvious popularity of his songs with local dancehall crowds, Eddie formed his own band, the All-Star Reveliers, and soon moved from performing into recording, publishing, and ultimately producing and distributing recordings. Goldband Records was the first in a succession of record labels that Eddie eventually started. Although he later learned to keep a watchful eye on the record-industry charts to see what consumers were buying, the Goldband label was, in the beginning, more of a vehicle for promoting Eddie's own music— music that embraced an up-to-date country string-band sound popularized by Ernest Tubb, Green: Swampland Jewels427 Eddie Shuler at the Goldband studio controls, May 1960. Courtesy of the Southern Folklife Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. © Eddie Shuler. Jimmie Davis, Ted Daffan, Bob Wills, and other artists of the day. This was the sound that was sweeping the entire South in the postwar years, and the AU-Star Reveliers climbed aboard the already-rolling bandwagon. Sometime around 1949 or 1950, Eddie met and recorded a near-blind Cajun accordion player named Iry Lejeune. Eddie admits he did not have much understanding initially of what Lejeune's music was all about (it was sung in Cajun French), but he agreed to make one record as a trial. He released it on a separate label. It sold so well that he set out to get Lejeune's records (along with his own) on jukeboxes at dance halls and night spots around southwest Louisiana and east Texas. When Iry Lejeune was suddenly killed in a highway accident, Eddie Shuler found himself in possession of a rich legacy of...


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