Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Treniers

Those eight swinging alcoholics-- The Treniers.
Can of Treniers brand Poontang Juice, better than viagra? Superstar Jam: the Treniers with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis from the Colgate Comedy Hour (1954) More of the same, with Jerry on drums. In living color, from Dean Martin's TV show, mid-60's.
From the film Don't Knock The Rock (1956)
From Jerry Lewis MS Telethon sometime in the 80's. Still Goin' Strong.
The Treniers were regulars in various Las Vegas and Atlantic City lounges from the early fifties through the mid-nineties, I don't think I ever saw a group have as much fun on stage as they did. The Treniers were identical twins Cliff and Claude Trenier from Mobile, Alabama, sometimes joined by their brother Milt, and various nephews, kids, friends and hired musicians (including longtime members Gene Gilbeaux on piano and Don Hill on sax). When Cliff died in 1983, Claude carried on, bringing in nephew Skip Trenier as Cliff's replacement. Claude passed away in 2003, bringing an end to the act.
They recorded sides for Mercury (as the Trenier Twins), Columbia's Okeh and Epic subsidiaries (including one with Willie Mays), and RCA's Vik imprint in the fifties (best of the Okeh years are here, scroll down to the middle of the page), later they cut LP's for the tiny labels like Hermitage (After Hours With The Fabulous Treniers, recorded live at Tony's Fish Market, here's a great version of Rockin' Is Out Business from that classic album) and TT (Popcorn Man, from '72), but their bread and butter, but especially the bread part, was their live show. These clips will give you an idea of what you missed if you never caught the Treniers' act. For more on the Treniers may I refer you to: The Treniers: Their God Wore Shades from Nick Tosches' Unsung Heroes Of Rock'n'Roll (pp. 65-69), Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984 or revised edition Harmony Books, 1991 which adds chapters on Ming & Ling and Charles Brown not found in the first edition.
The modern world knows no equivalent of the Treniers, who like Louis Prima with Sam Butera & the Witnesses, were all about entertaining their audience. They didn't need a dozen tractor trailer trucks full of crap like U2 carry around (has any group ever left a heavier environmental footprint on this earth? Every time U2 play, enough power to light up sub-Saharan Africa for a week is wasted), the Treniers had something better than flashpots and gigantic video screens-- they had talent, wit, brains and a sense of humor. Rockin' was their business, and for half a century business was good.


Paul said...

I'm so glad I caught these guys in Atlantic City in about 1999-2000, somewhere I have a photo of me and my then girlfriend with Claude Trenier giving us a hug (we were the youngest people in the audience by a good two or three decades). Next to watching the Stooges playing Funhouse, it was probably the most fun I've ever had at a show.

SteveZ said...

By sheer dumb luck I ran across a tiny notice for the Treniers appearing here in Chicago at their brother Milt's nightclub on Ohio (long gone) around '96. Of course none of the local music rags wrote a mumbling word about 'em. I loved my wife's first impression: "I wish Claude was my grandfather"

The Treniers had a way of rockin' and a way of life that's on the way out. By the way--- Milt's got a gig this Friday at the VFW in Villa Park!

fred said...

I spit my scotch when I read the U2 comments. Now I am gonna look, once again, to see if someone has posted the Goofers tunes from Bop Girl Goes Calypso to U2ube.

Anonymous said...

"By sheer dumb luck I ran across a tiny notice for the Treniers appearing here in Chicago at their brother Milt's nightclub on Ohio (long gone) around '96."

Not true - at that time I was a staff writer with one of the local alt-weeklies (New City), and not only did I see them during that last stint at Milt Trenier's Lounge, but I made good and sure to write it up in the listings. It was right during the time when jump-blues was starting to catch on in Chicago (thanx to the Mighty Blue Kings), and I wanted to make good and sure that people knew where it came from.

At the show I saw, I remember asking Claude T. to autograph the reissue CD I'd just bought. I laid it on an empty barstool, and without knowing it Claude sat flat down on my CD! And thirteen years later, it still plays without a scratch! (And yes, I got my autograph...God bless him!)

James Porter

Nick said...

Anybody know where that can of Poontang ended up?

The Hound said...

There's one at my house, I spotted another at Norton Records headquarters in Brooklyn, I'm sure there are others out there....

Nick said...

I'm completely serious, not even trying to make a joke, something like that should be in the Smithsonian.

How many cans exist? Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

I bought my first Treniers LP based on something you wrote about 'em! Early '80s?
Money well spent...

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