Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Floating On Air

I've never had this dream. A VW camper van, a guitar, and a black iron pot.  What? I've never really camped that much, maybe in the back yard as a kid or for special occasions.  I guess we did build a lot of cabins in the woods.  I enjoyed being in the woods building something out of our own imagination.  Once we finished, we chewed tobacco on the roof and spit off of the roof.  I would rake the leaves and clean up a 20 ft. radius around the cabin but never could keep em away.  Every cabin ended the same way.  Snake!  Once they found their way in, it was done.  I'd never return to it out of fear.  

As a kid VW's were a big part of my life.  My dad had an 1972 Orange Super Beetle.  He used it to go to work and I'd scrub it with a light brillo pad to get the factory residue off of the paint.  We'd sit on Mamere's porch and admire it when it was clean.  I'd tell everyone how the restoration process was going to happen and they would giggle at me.  

I was getting close to driving age and my dad was taking me seriously as my parents always did.  We got the engine rebuilt and bought a junk VW for spare parts.  I loved to exchange interior parts and fenders and to see how the parts worked.  We got the engine back running so smooth and prepped for painting only to buy this hot rod of a VW before completing it.  We soon regretted that decision.  Though the car was an amazing street rod, we lost precious times of imagining and working on it together.  It was my first lesson in the laws of instant gratification.  

What a gift it is to be touring again.  I spent years idly watching from the sidelines as others built careers for themselves but it just didn't make sense for me.  It scared the shit out of me actually.  That old music business model.  I didn't want a jet plane with my name painted on it, or my face painted at the New Orleans Airport.  The thought of those things makes me sick.  I think it's antiquated.  The rock star thing.  Hell, I saw a young artist video the other day and he completely ripped off Dylan to perfection.  I'm sure he was cool to the folks that don'n know Dylan but the next Dylan is not imitating Dylan.  These things are the sort of thing that make me hide for 5 years and make music and file it away.  These are the sort of things that make me want to run off with "Kind of Blue" in the woods and listen on repeat.  

But you somehow muster enough courage to get through all those feelings and move on.  You put on the hat and you play.  You let your imagination lead you and allow your vision to steer you.  

The Rural Experience was a nice venue to play in.  Artist Rebecca Rebouche hosted the event and Kristin Diable and I played shows.  The more I play venues, the less I like it and start to feel like a machine again.  I'd love to learn to take the feeling of playing in the woods to the venue.  

Pop Up and House Shows have been really good for me.  I've been meeting lots of people who have written me over the years and it really makes these shows special.  I have numerous experiences with folks who have traveled distances for a show only to host a show of their own afterwards.  It feels organic to approach music this way.  A shared experience as opposed to a hip advertisement trying to hook you.  I never tried to get people to like me.  It's a silly concept.  

It's good to keep in mind those VW experiences from childhood.  When I was on Atlantic records; it felt like I sold the fixer upper for the hot rod.  Everything was cheapened and my hands weren't touching everything and loving the experience anymore.  The other day, someone inquired about a show I'm playing in Austin and she was surprised that I wrote her back and not a publicist.  I should have told her I was the publicist.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Westy Named Tux....

Many changes taking place in the past few months.  After years of grinding away on Campo Santo and restoring my house I have decided to hit the road and take the leap of faith that one thing will lead to the next and a sustainable path will be found.  

Over the course of an 8 month period I began researching touring vehicles that I could do solo tours in or possibly duo tours.  The VW Westfalia kept popping up and I began to research them and it wasn't long before I knew this was the only vehicle for me, for my Louque project.  It was boutique, quality, and free.

As I began looking for one for myself, I realized it wasn't going to be easy to find a good one.  It was competitive getting these, especially online without being able to see them.  Some karma was going to have to part of the equation.  After a long time, I settled on a charcoal Westy in Bellevue, Washington near Seattle.  It's the same place I bought the vintage Mercedes years ago.  

After looking at it for a while, I decided it's name was "Tux" because it had clean lines like a tuxedo with its black stripe.  I had thought it was going to be a girl but after I put the 16" wheels and drove it it was indeed a little dirty boy with scuffed up knees.  Below is the first week of taking it around my hometown on the Mississippi River Road.  

I have spent the past few weeks taking it out and getting the kinks out and learning how to use all the camping equipment.  This is truly the swiss army knife of vehicles.  I have made many friends on Instagram.  The Westfalia community is an amazing group of people daring to live their own lives and carve new paths with less.  I'm so thankful to be headed out on the road and thankful for my family and their support.

Tux in Bay St. Louis, MS.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Signs of Life & Culture in Louisiana...

Came across this photo the other day.  It's an old black and white 35mm picture of a chair in my bedroom in my Brooklyn apt. pre 911.  I've kept this picture because it always reminded me what role dreams and imagination play in our lives.  We shape our destiny and no one else.  I've learned that if you can't see it and imagine a path then nothing materializes.  I remember using this chair to write when I had the crazy idea that I was going to make a record called So Long.  All I had was determination and a gift for telling stories and a great team of folks contributing.  At the time Donovan Guidry and I were living in this two bedroom in Williamsburg. He'd work night shifts while I stayed home to record and write. I'd have major break throughs and would pass out late night and then when he got up we'd have coffee and play back the work from the night before.  Every week we experienced small victories but most days were filled with doubt.  I think as creative people, there will always be doubt at every level.  When I read Neil Young's book he's even worried about not being able to write the way he used too.  Bob Dylan in an interview looks back on the body of his work and shakes his head and says he can't do that anymore.  It's a scary, precious thing to have this fleeting creativity.  

After a three year period, it was nice to sit in this chair and blast the beats from the record we made through the Bose speakers.  The same speakers we'd crank Massive Attack, Digable Planets, Bob Marley and now little old me from Grand Point, Louisiana was coming through the airwaves.  

One morning I heard the TV on in the other room at 8:45 and found it odd cause Donovan worked so late and usually stayed in bed til 10 or so.  Then the phone rang and it was my mother asking if I was ok because the twin towers had just been hit.  I went to the chair and opened the window and saw the smoke and the building and the people running on the bridge to our neighborhood.  I would never be the same.

Spoon at The Civic Theatre in New Orleans

Though New Orleans is a bit hard for a musician like me, I have enjoyed living here through all its changes.  I have become overwhelmed with Chateau St. Roch and am beginning to wonder if it's a smart idea to continue putting so much time into it.  

Last weekend I drove to Baton Rouge to hear my friend Jacob's band Ghost Foot.  They were a three piece band with a baritone guitar as bass.  They sounded really good and was so impressed with Jacob's voice and delivery. 

Also on the bill was New Orleans' Julie Odell.  I've seen her in New Orleans once doing a solo show and loved it.  This night she was with a band and was just as good.  I expect some solid work from her in the near future.  

This is my good friend and film maker Mac Premo.  This is why I love him.  He's a grown ass man and is donning baseball pants to play in his softball league.  We met years ago in the East Village, NY and would battle at stickball at least once a week.  He is the artist who did the artwork for So Long.  It matched the 3 year process of the making of the record.  It was fully layered.  He gave me a big confidence boost in 2010 when he commissioned me to write a piece of music for an animation.  Months later we were in tuxedo's at the Emmy's because we were nominated as he one many of those little men.  He'll be in town this weekend to make three little short films on me to help promote my work.  I'm very excited that he's taken the time to work with me, especially when the last video he did with Oliver Jeffers was the U2-Ordinary Love video.  

On Tuesday night I was invited by my new friend Lee Martin to the Jack White concert in the newly renovated Saenger Theatre in New Orleans.  It was so nice to see the renovations and see that place thrive again after being destroyed in Katrina.  

Jack White was a beast up there and a gentleman backstage.  I have so much appreciation for him and his body of work along with all the great stuff he's doing in Nashville for Third Man Records.  Neil Young just recorded in his recording booth for his new record.  I plan to take a road trip up there real soon to see all this for myself and maybe even record in the booth myself.

I found these old photo's of my maternal grandfather Fredrick P. Arras.  He lived in New Orleans in the Ninth Ward before his father moved the family to St. James Parish.  

Lutcher High School 1920's