D. L. Menard

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D. L. Menard
D. L. Menard playing guitar at the 2008 Black Pot Festival
Menard at the 2008 Black Pot Festival
Background information
Birth name Doris Leon Menard
Born (1932-04-14)April 14, 1932
Erath, Louisiana, United States of America
Died July 27, 2017(2017-07-27) (aged 85)
Scott, Louisiana, United States of America
Genres Cajun
Instruments Guitar
Labels Swallow, Rounder, Arhoolie
Associated acts Louisiana Aces, Le Trio Cadien

Doris Leon "D. L." Menard[1] (April 14, 1932 – July 27, 2017) was an American songwriter, performer, and recording artist in contemporary Cajun music. He was called the "Cajun Hank Williams".[2]

Biography[edit]

Menard was born in Erath, Louisiana, and was the only child[3] of Ophy and Helena Primeaux Menard.[4] He was part of a Cajun farming family. He took up the guitar at age 16 and started playing dances in Louisiana clubs at 17.[4] He was strongly influenced by the late Hank Williams, whom he met in 1951 at the Teche Club[3] shortly before Williams's death.[5] Throughout his career, Menard held performances in more than 30 countries and served as a good-will ambassador for Cajun culture. He had also recorded with non-Cajun artists, including Bryan Ferry.[6]

Menard, and his late wife Louella, had seven children, leading to 17 grandchildren, and 27[7] great-grandchildren.[2] He died at age 85 on July 27, 2017 in Scott, Louisiana.[8] He had maintained a separate career as a craftsman, noted for his handmade ash-wood chairs.[4]

Style[edit]

Menard was known for his "tinny" voice and popular guitar strumming style. Musician and historian Ann Savoy generalizes Cajun guitar strumming to two styles: Old Time Style (Cléoma Falcon) and D. L. Menard Style.[9] It uses bass runs on chord changes and incorporates up-strokes along with down-strokes. He modeled his strumming style after David Bromberg, whom he met in 1973.[10]

"La Porte En Arrière"[edit]

Menard was best known for the song "La Porte En Arrière" ("The Back Door"), which he both composed and regularly performed. Cajun folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet has called this the most played and recorded Cajun song ever, selling over 500,000 copies in 1962 alone.[11] It has been covered by dozens of Cajun and zydeco bands and by other francophone artists such as Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Menard said he modeled it on Hank Williams's "Honky Tonk Blues",[3] and that he composed it in less than an hour while working at a gas station in Erath.[4]

Awards[edit]

In 1993, his album Le Trio Cadien was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk Album category.[12] In 1994, he was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the highest honor in the folk and traditional arts bestowed by the United States government.[13] In 2009, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame along with Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, and Jimmy C. Newman.[14] In 2010, his album Happy Go Lucky was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album category.[15]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "She Didn't Know I Was Married" / "Bachelor's Life" Swallow 45-10139[16]
  • "The Back Door" / "I Can't Forget You" Swallow 45-10131[17]
  • "Valse De Jolly Rogers" / "La. Aces Special" Swallow 45-10121[17]
  • "Rebecca Ann" / "I Can Live A Better Life" Swallow 45-10147[18]
  • "Too Late You're Divorced" / "Riches Of A Musician" Swallow 45-10243[16]
  • "The Vail and Crown" Swallow 45-10249[19]

Albums[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ François 1990, p. 446.
  2. ^ a b "D.L. Menard". Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b c Savoy 1984, p. 272.
  4. ^ a b c d Savoy 1984, p. 270.
  5. ^ Les Blank (director), Chris Strachwitz (director), Maureen Gosling (October 13, 1989). J'ai été au bal (Documentary). Brazos Films. Event occurs at 49 minutes. 
  6. ^ "These Vintage years!". Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  7. ^ Personal knowledge as a friend of the family.
  8. ^ "Legendary Cajun Musician D. L. Menard dies at 85". Retrieved 2017-07-27. 
  9. ^ Savoy 1984, p. 8.
  10. ^ Savoy 1984, p. 273.
  11. ^ "Louisiana Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  12. ^ "Rock on The Net: 35th Annual Grammy Awards". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  13. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 1994". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 2017-11-23. 
  14. ^ "Louisiana Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-07-27. 
  15. ^ "D.L. Menard, Cajun Music Ambassador, Is Dead at 85". US News. July 28, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "Cajun music icon D.L. Menard, known for 'The Back Door,' dies at 85". USA Today. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Janet McConnaughey (July 28, 2017). "'The Back Door' singer D.L. Menard dead at 85". Fox News. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  18. ^ "I Can Live A Better Life Swallow". All Music. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  19. ^ "The Vail and Crown Swallow". All Music. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Hobbs, Jim. "Cajun and Zydeco 33 Rpm Long-Play (LP) Records". Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  21. ^ a b c "D.L. Menard". All Music. July 29, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • François, Raymond E. (1990). Yé Yaille, Chère!. Ville Platte, Louisiana: Swallow Publications. ISBN 0-9614245-7-5. 
  • Savoy, Ann (1986) [1984]. Cajun Music a Reflection of a People. Eunice, Louisiana: Bluebird Press. ISBN 978-0-930169-00-8. 

External links[edit]