A celebrated Cajun musician's accordion lives on

A celebrated Cajun musician's accordion lives on

Musicians Steve Riley and Justin Manuel are playing with a piece of Cajun music history.  Justin's family purchased the accordion of the late Cajun music pioneer Nathan Abshire years ago.  It was made in Lake Charles and is seen in several pictures of Abshire.

"I grabbed this accordion and played that song,"  said Manuel.  "It sounds exactly like what I've been learning.  No accordion sounds exactly the same.  When you play this one, it sounds like I was him playing the accordion almost."

"It was played by a giant in Cajun music," said Riley.  "A man who left his mark on the music and it'll be there forever."

Abshire, who died in 1981, made several recordings with Dewey Balfa and the Balfa Brothers and promoted Cajun music through appearances at festivals, colleges and schools across the United States.

"He lived the life of a blues man.  He was the caretaker of the Basile dump.  He led a very simple life but loved to play music.  I think music, like it is for all us musicians, was an escape.  It brought him joy and in turn brought millions joy."

The case that holds Abshire's accordion is almost as famous as the instrument itself.  He always said "the good times are killing me."

Manuel says he plans to keep it in the family for a long time.

"We've been offered a pretty good amount of money and we wouldn't sell it," said Manuel.  "It's a piece of history that we have and we wouldn't want to sell it."

Abshire's music lives on in recordings and through musicians playing his accordion.

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