The Sanford Troubadours
Musical Group from Sanford, Maine
In the 1930s and 1940s, my husband's father, Alban Allain, played in a group that was locally popular in southern Maine and New Hampshire. It was called the Sanford Troubadours.
The band of young Franco-Americans played country-western tunes. They played for dances at local halls and also played live on the radio each week.
World War II broke the group up, as the six Troubadours went off to war. Here's their story. I'm hoping that by sharing what I know about the Sanford Troubadours, that it may stir memories so others will share what they know about this band.
The Members of the Band
The group played together for eight years and performed live on radio station WHEB in Portsmouth, NH. They opened the Youth Hour there.
In addition they entertained at dances and numberous functions in the southern Maine and New Hampshire area. Members of the band follow:
Leo Deschenes was the announcer and played the guitar.
Fernand Cote was the yodeller. He was in the army. His parents were Mr and Mrs. Frank Cote of Bowdoin Street (Sanford).
Alphonse Richard Michaud played the harmonica.
Alban Allain played the guitar.
Edward R. Deschenes played the violin.
Frederick J. Legere played the base violin.
More About the Troubadour Members
They all had nicknames that fit with their country music heroes. There was Hank, Tex, Fiddlin Joe, Half-Pint, Smiley, and Curly.
The group played together for eight years before breaking up as the members entered the military.
When asked how Smiley got his name, his son Roland Cote said, "my father, Fern, was nicknamed Smiley because he lost most of his teeth at quite a young age. He was also the original bartender at the Cellar Door Lounge when it opened on Cottage Street. Also tended bar at the VFW and the Elks."
Sanford Troubadours 1939
- Pvt. Fernand Cote, U.S. Army, stationed at Fort H.G. Wright, NY. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cote of Bowdoin Street.
- Frederick J. Legere, S 2/c USN. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edmond Legere.
- Pfc. Alphonse R. Michaud, USAAF, stationed at Buckley Field, Colorado. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Octave Michaud of River Street.
- Pvt. Alban Allain, U.S. Army, Pacific Theater. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Allain, of North Street.
- Pvt. Edward R. Deschenes, U.S. Army, stationed overseas. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Jules Deschenes of 32 Nason Street.
- Pvt. James Leo Deschenes, U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in Richmond, Florida. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Jules Deschenes.
More about Hank Alban Allain
His nickname "Hank" was for Hank Williams.
Listen to Hank Williams on YouTube
If you'd like to listen to some classic Hank Williams, you'll see the kind of music that inspired my father-in-law.
"Hank" Allain was nicknamed for Hank Williams
As war-weary young men returned from overseas,
they were anxious to marry, start families and get on with their lives. In the case of the Troubadours, the timing wasn't right to resume the band. They found jobs but occasionally got together in the evening after work to jam a little, singing and playing their instruments.
The Allain Family after the War
Christmas 1948 at the Allain's
Musical Ability Passed Down in the Allain Family
My husband remembers his father learning new tunes by ear as he didn't read music. When Hank saw Carlos Montoya on the Ed Sullivan Show on television, he pulled a chair close to the screen and watched every movement of Montoya's finger work. He then got out his guitar and started playing and trying to replicate the style.
The Sanford Troubadours did not play together as a group after the war. In later years, Hank gave up playing his guitar and jamming with friends.
In 2009 we visited Hank's cousin and other relatives in New Brunswick, Canada. It was interesting to learn that many of them played musical instruments and were self-taught; playing "by ear." Some of them played for local clubs and dances.
As my husband traced his family history back to the first Allain who came to Canada from France, he found the musical tradition went back many, many generations. One early relative, Michel Allain, played the violin and the instrument is in the Acadian Museum in Caraquet, New Brunswick. The museum curator opened the box and pulled back the tissue paper to show us the worn wood of the fragile instrument that dated back to the 1700s.
Early Photos of Allain Relatives Who Were Also Musical
Alban's Great-Great Grandfather Played the Fiddle
Finding Michel Allain's Violin
We visited New Brunswick to learn more about my husband's Acadian ancestors. The Allains escaped from Grand Pre in Nova Scotia in the 1700s and found refuge in Neguac. My husband's grandfather left Neguac in the 1930s to find work in the U.S.
Meeting with second cousins in Neguac gave us background on the way of life there. We found the love of playing music had been passed down through the generations. They told us of an ancestor whose violin was in the Acadian Museum of Caraquet.
Anxious to see the violin of Michel Allain, we went to the museum. It was listed in their catalog but we looked all through the museum and did not see it. We asked at the information desk. When they heard that we were from the states and were descendants of Michel Allain, they took us to a storage area and gently unwrapped the fragile instrument.
Because of its age and condition, it was kept safely stored in a climate controlled area. It was over 200 years old.
The Allain Violin - Over 200 Years Old
More Allain Family Talent
We also learned that one of my husband's cousins, Don Allain of New Jersey, builds mandolins and guitars that are real works of art. The official name for this kind of craftsman is luthier. Once again, we're struck that love of music spread down through all branches of the Allain family.
More about Tex
Tex in the Troubadours Got His Nickname from Tex Ritter - Here's a video of Tex Ritter singing "Rye Whiskey"
Look Online for More about Tex Ritter
This is the performer that Tex in the Sanford Troubadours took his nickname from. Enjoy some old cowboy tunes and western songs.
Musical Influences in the Franco-American Culture
A Typical Home or Kitchen Session - Acadian Music
The French Canadians perform a distinctive kind of music using the fiddle, accordion, piano, harmonica, and guitar.
Where Do Visitors to This Page Come from? - Flag Counter added on 05/15/2012
© 2009 Virginia Allain