Notes for Austin Pitre:
Austin Pitre (February 23, 1918 - April 8, 1981) was born in Ville Platte, Louisiana. A Cajun music pioneer, Pitre claimed to be the first musician to play the accordion standing up, rather than sitting down. Along with his band, the Evangeline Playboys, Pitre recorded Cajun dancehall hits such as the Opelousas Waltz.
Pitre's father was Joseph Vige Pitre and his mother was Marie Fontenot. His older brother, Jean Baptiste "Curley" Pitre (June 14, 1906 - December 29, 1978) was a farmer who lived in the Prairie Ronde area.
Music and Career
Pitre was the front man for "Austin Pitre & the Evangline Playboys" for many years and played dance halls around the South Louisiana area. His unique style of playing included standing up to play the accordion without the aid of a shoulder strap, as well as playing the accordion behind his head and between his legs.
Besides being a talented musician, Pitre was also a highly regarded mechanic and had his own automotive repair shop near Ville Platte, Louisiana.
Death and Legacy
Pitre died on April 8, 1981 at the age of 63. He is buried in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery, located on Highway 190 just east of Eunice, Louisiana.
In 1997, Pitre was posthumously inducted into the Cajun French Music Association's Hall of Fame. That same year, Arhoolie released the CD "Austin Pitre & His Evangeline Playboys - Opelousas Waltz" which was a remaster of recordings that Pitre had made in 1971.
Pitre's last wife, Dorothy, survived him and is active in preserving his legacy as well as Cajun music in general. She has hosted the weekly Rendezvous des Cajuns at the Liberty Theater in Eunice, Louisiana, and has also worked at the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Eunice where Austin Pitre's Monarch accordion can be seen.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMT9-59T : accessed 30 September 2018), Joseph Pitre, Police Jury Ward 1, St Landry, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 9, sheet 20B, line 96, family 377, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 819; FHL microfilm 2,340,554.
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