Blind Uncle Gaspard
|Alcide "Blind Uncle" Gaspard|
|Birth name||Alcide Gaspard|
|Also known as||Oncle Gaspard Aveugles|
18 October 1878|
Dupont, in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
|Died||6 October 1937
Plaucheville, Louisiana, USA
Alcide "Blind Uncle" Gaspard was a partially blind vocalist and guitarist from Louisiana who alternated between string-band music (in a band with his brothers) and traditional Cajun balladry on his recordings for Vocalion. Born in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana in 1880, he became partially blinded when he was seven. Very little is known about Gaspard and his life as a musician; even among big-time Cajun musicians and fans. A brilliant and dexterous guitarist, he is often regarded in Cajun and Americana music circles as a very mysterious and unacclaimed figure. His influences remain unknown, although his family is believed to have brought him into music. Gaspard suffered from deep depression and alcoholism throughout his life, and it is believed he remained a bachelor till his untimely death. Many of his rare recordings were re-released on Cajun compilations into the Millennium. He has since recently retained a small cult-following. Gaspard formed his first band with his brothers Victor and Amade. When he began recording in the late 1920s it was mainly as a backing guitarist for first-generation Irish American fiddler Delma Lachney. It was then that he also recorded some solo selections of his own during these sessions. Little else is known about Gaspard, though four of his sides (and a few of his appearances with Lachney) appear on the Yazoo compilation Early American Cajun Music released in 1999. None of Gaspard's original recordings are believed to have sold over 100 copies within his lifetime. Gaspard reportedly died untimely and alone in 1937. His sudden cause of death remains unknown. Gaspard is buried at Mater Dolorosa Catholic Cemetery, in Plaucheville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.
One of Gaspard's select songs "Sur Le Borde De L'eau" was recently featured on the 2014 soundtrack of the HBO Television series True Detective, bringing Gaspard's musical endeavors into the mainstream public for the first time. Music journalist Amanda Petrusich discusses the song in her book about collecting 78 rpm records, Do Not Sell At Any Price. The song was among those featured in a 2015 interview with Petrusich on the NPR program, Fresh Air. Interest in Gaspard and his unsung music career have grown in significant popularity since the recent rediscovery of his music; as is featured on rare Cajun recordings re-released gradually into the Millennium.
- Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney & John Bertrand: Early American Cajun Music Classic Recordings From the 1920s (2042 Yazoo, 1999)
- Let Me Play This For You : Rare Cajun Recordings (TSQ 2912 Tompkins Square, 2013)
- Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney: On the Waters Edge (MRP 069LP Mississippi Records, July 2014)
- Brasseaux 2009, p. 80.
- "31 "La Danseuse" by Delma Lachney & Blind Uncle Gaspard". 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
- "Music Journalist Chronicles The 'Wild Obsessive Hunt' For Rare 78 RPM Records," Nashville Public Radio website, August 2015.