Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lou Go East Que, A Child of the Wolf........




I hit the road in June after getting the van out of the shop.  I had an oil change, rotated tires and had Joey, the mechanic,  listen for a valve tapping noise that was coming and going.  He put an additive and said that it should help it out and I hit the road.  
I'm all about preparation and ruling out any room for  error, so this didn't send me off without reservation.  I spent the first night at a camp site in LaGrange, GA.  The van had tapped the whole way there.  As soon as I got on the bridge out of New Orleans, he started tapping.  Of course this consumes your mind and it interrupts the normal writing and music listening on the road.  I did everything I could to fix the problem and eventually, I let it go and thought I'd deal with it in Asheville at Dr. Dave's.  They had serviced "Tux" last time I was in town and they knew a lot about these vans.  


I was so excited to be playing in Athens for the first time.  I had made my own connection with Seth at Hendershot's the old fashioned way.  I had passed through town, sat at his bar for a coffee and talked to them about music.  When I was leaving, I told him I was looking for a place to play and he said he'd check me out online.  He wrote back a few days later saying, "I knew you'd be the real deal"! Ha, I love having to work for things, and having to earn the respect of my collaborators out there.  I camped out in my new friend Jason's yard for a night after a night of great music in town. Athen's music scene amazes me.  I think a city and it's musicians have to be brave to keep moving 
forward and not just give the tourist what they came for.  


My friend and guitarist William Chandler had told me about Julie Odell a while back and I made it out to her shows a few times and was blown away by her.  We became friends over time and had always said we wanted to play a show at Chattooga Belle Farms in South Carolina.  We played at sunset with the light creeping behind the mountains.  It was pretty surreal, I remember just howling at one point looking at the mountains.  I was "The Child of the Wolf" indeed!






It was good to be in NY again. Both Brooklyn and Woodstock were very inspiring.  I started some collaborations with Alex Lipsen, Prince Polo and Dave Burnett and even started recording "Along The River Road" with Danny Blume in Woodstock.  This is a song I wrote for the Bonfire tradtion in St. James Parish.  






New York will make you feel like you're not doing anything with your life.  Though up until this point I was having a good tour, I wasn't impressed with myself.  I never am.  One Sunday, I got up determined to wear a black suit and allow myself to feel like someone.  I'd be an accomplished individual.  In the past year I had played The Gary State Bank Music Hall, on a roof top in New Orleans, in the swamps, at festivals, in living rooms and I was connecting on a much deeper level than if I was on some billboard somewhere.  

I put on my suit and went straight to Grand Central to get my shoes shined.  It was working, I was feeling good.  It occurred to me that if I don't see myself, no one else can see me either.  Then I encounter a photographer in the streets shooting folks and he took two shots of me in all my glory.  We bonded over our simple little notes we are sharing with society.  All the work, ups and downs and we declared it was worth it and valuable.  We talked of Jazz era artist and discipline and really working at your craft not just relying on Instagram and social media.  We parted ways with a kick in our steps. 



The ever changing pedal board.  Loving my Space Echo for vocals for ambience.  I got another loop pedal with reverse on it.  I'm still arranging these to work like I need them too.




One Saturday morning I got up and watched "Man on Wire" and it inspired me so much and made me feel like I could expect more from myself.  This guy, Phillipe Petit is my hero.  
I'm going to buy his book "To Reach The Clouds".





Spent some time in Rhode Island and wow what a beautiful state.  Played a nice show in Providence and met some nice folks.  Before driving back down to Asheville.



Almost forgot, when I made it to Asheville, I got Tux checked out at Dr. Dave's.  At first, Dave thought it was more of a knocking than a tapping and that means rebuilding the engine which is not good.  Every VW shop I visited before this suggested I try 20W50 oil and it worked.  It's easy to think for the worst, but most of the time I know without a doubt that nothing will stop me from my road not even the 18 wheeler that side swiped me when I was at a stop light.  The damage was not as bad as it felt when I was trapped in the drivers seat.  I'm having it inspected this week and repaired soon.



I like staying in Oso's barn in Asheville.  It's a very creative room so far and will plan to be back there soon.



The black iron pot is the key ingredient to all cooking in the van.  I made some granola with my friend Mabel's recipe and it came out pretty good.  






Me and Oso


His daughter Solstice


And then I finished tour playing on this deck.  Knoxville turned out to be a good spot for me.  People I've worked with in the past are starting to hear about me playing again and hope to dabble with festivals and such as I continue to build my pop up shows.  Starting to believe I'm a child of the wolf.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tin Can Coyote.....

















If I Don't See Me, You Don't See Me.....




On Sunday, I woke up with an extreme desire to wear a suit and celebrate the simplicity of the fact that it was Sunday.  The road has been an amazing and sometimes grueling life journey.  Most of the time is spent alone with no one to blame your emptiness on.  As an artist, I'm never impressed with myself and it can often be tiring to never feel the sense of accomplishment that most must feel from a days work.  This is why I woke up and put the suit on and headed straight for Grand Central Station for my shoe shine.  It's so hard to remember to love yourself and on that day, I needed the all the momentum I could get.  


"If we don't see them, they can't see us either"



I stepped out of the train station like a new man.  Finally found a casual suit that didn't make me feel like a business man and my shoes were shining.  That's when I met Jean Andre Antoine shooting vintage polaroids in the street.  We were drawn to each other and had a great conversation about the Jazz Era comparing it to the instant gratification era we are living in.  We parted ways, happy to be playing our notes in society.  Living examples of old world work ethic and passion behind closed doors when no one is looking. 


It was such a treat after eating on the road so much to sit down and have east coast oysters with a glass of Absinthe afterwards.  


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sustainability.........

                                                                                  Nels Cline
In December, I set out on the road in my newly purchased VW Westfalia with a few shows booked and filled with the desire to work hard and do anything possible to build a sustainable business through music without having to sell my soul to a major corporation.  

I worked a normal job for a while as I made records and practiced and tinkered with sonics and such. I admired fellow artist Oliver Jeffers and collaborated with him on some childrens audio books and watched his career blossom as he traveled the world.  I admired Mac Premo as he defiantly built a career for himself in NY and purchased a home with his wife Adrianna.  I was seeing friends in the Invisible Dog studio bldg build nice sustainable careers for themselves.  Everyday they'd get up with a smile on their faces blessed with work and vision and opportunities came.  Invisible Dog Studio is run by Lucien Zayan.

I got to travel a lot with Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona and rummage through vintage items at Round Top in Texas and in Brimfield, MA all while he was slowly building his business.  

All this reminded me of my dad when he was working as a machinist.  He loved it so much that when we'd be on vacation he'd go looking for tools.  It's no secret why he had success.  It required hard work but the passion and interest in the subject was there.  This is what I think is missing in the world today.  Perhaps another Crafts movement is happening now as people grasp for some sense of authenticity.  Hell even authenticity is wrapped up for us in a bow to purchase nowadays. A little beard oil and you're good to go.  

 I felt like I was being wrapped in a bow on a big label but now everyday I'm involved in the whole process.  Yesterday on my day off in Austin I laughed when I pulled into the Goodwill to look for more women's shirts for indigo dyeing.  I was my like my dad and the Invisible Dog crew.  

I've always admired and envied farmers who had their crop to tend to everyday and in the off season they maintained their tractors and equipment.  When I'm not on tour now, my brother Donovan and I work on the van.  This is sustainability to me.  It's more than just staying in the black financially.  It's loving every bit of the process even when you don't understand it and you have to study and learn.  I've learned that obstacles are necessary and help you achieve your greatest work.  

One day I was driving to work over Lake Pontchartrain and the sun was rising and this guitar is playing on WWOZ.  I immediately called "The Problem Child" who was hosting the show and she said it was Nels Cline.  I've always loved the Fender Jazzmaster guitar and here was one of the masters of it.  At the time I had just begun recording "Campo Santo" and had no idea that I'd end up recording with him.  

I read an article once about Nels and he said he almost quit and before we played our show in Brooklyn I asked him backstage about it.  "Why did you almost quit?" He said that he had so many interest in what kinds of music he wanted to play and didn't want to have to pick one genre.  Man it made me feel like I was on the right track.  I think this is why I've done 3 records since "So Long" and haven't released one of them.  "Louque The Drifter" is a mix of old country, reggae, Fellini, freak folk and then immediately we made "For The King's Court" with The Royal Vagabonds".  I guess the feeling was like being on the side of the interstate and you just can't find an on ramp and everything is speeding by.  It's so nice to have finally merged in amongst the noise and set the cruise at 63mph as I achieve sustenance. Thanks Nels, and the whole Invisible Dog crew.




                                                                                                           Oliver Jeffers


                                                                        Mac Premo






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.