Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Rusty and Doug Kershaw-Louisiana Man

Hailing from Cameron Parish in Louisiana Rusty and Doug Kershaw created a striking hybrid of cajun and country music, with cajun being the predominant influence on the duo during their formative years. The brothers came to the attention of legendary southern Louisiana  producer J.D Miller in the early 50's and he encouraged them to add a more traditional country harmony vocal sound to their ingrained cajun roots. Between 1955 and 1961 the duo put 5 single into the U.S country charts with all their output released on Hickory Records, a label based in Nashville and founded by Roy Acuff.

Louisiana Man is without doubt their most influential tune, it was written by Doug just as he and Rusty were coming out of the U.S Army in late 1960. It's a heartfelt and joyous look at the Kershaws' childhood years, the song opens with an almost ecstatic fiddle solo from Doug, bristling with the excitement of returning home. Kershaw sings of living on a houseboat, with his father rising early to head out on his biro into the bayou to catch fish and and trap for furs. There are trips on the river to town on the big boat which is an overnight sojourn, especially exciting for young Doug is his first trip to the movies to see a cowboy show. Even though the song was recorded in Nashville with help from legendary session players Chet Atkins on guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano the song still retains it's charm and is not at all compromised by the Nashville tendency to try for more commercial sounds.

By 1964 the brothers had gone their separate ways, there is a fairly big gap in their biography over the ensuing 5 years. Doug eventually re-emerges and makes a career defining appearance on Johnny Cash's TV show in 1969, following this he performs at the Fillmore East in New York, that landmark venue that held so many great concerts in the late 60's and into the early 70's. He continued to record for Hickory enjoying some success with remakes of Louisiana Man and Diggy Liggy Lo before recoding for the Scotti Brothers in the 80's. Rusty cut an album for Cotillion in 1970 and worked with Neil Young on a number of albums before fading into obscurity.

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