Willie Vincent

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With a name that sounds like he ought to be somebody well-known in the roots rock business, Willie Vincent is actually a fairly obscure Cajun music sideman, one of many around during the genre's early…
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With a name that sounds like he ought to be somebody well-known in the roots rock business, Willie Vincent is actually a fairly obscure Cajun music sideman, one of many around during the genre's early days of recordings. Vincent's very existence on certain sessions is debated into the wee hours by Cajun scholars sitting over steaming plates of red beans and rice. He definitely worked on and off with the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, the historic Cajun band under the leadership of the rotund, ecstatic Happy Fats, which was the first band from the south of Louisiana to be broadcast on national networks. It was the mid-'30s, a period when the Louisiana music scene was practically under unending assault from the gargantuan state of Texas directly to the west. Western swing was something that had the ear of both musicians and public, and was being broadcast throughout the Bayou State over the radio. Louisiana musicians such as Vincent who became interested in the style gravitated toward membership in a new type of Cajun string band in which the traditional kingpin accordion player was often told to stay at home.

Vincent was a versatile multi-instrumentalist, who like a good studio player, used the different varieties of instruments that are at least slightly related to the guitar to bring different blends to various songs. This included the pedal-steel guitar, which has been barely used in Cajun music, although its predominance in western swing bands, known for dueling pedal steels on either side of the stage, must have at least tempted Happy Fats. Other instrumental contributions by Vincent took the music in different directions, such as when he played the banjo, also not the normal choice for a Cajun combo. At times he stayed in the background and played bass, developing primitive versions of the bass lines that would eventually become common currency on the zydeco market. Vincent's name does not show up on credits much past the '40s. He has been confused with a much younger musician with the same name who plays drums in a rock band entitled Chimera.