Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ode to Time

the richest man is he who carries understanding in his heart and
the most virtuous is he who extends that understanding to another being
we're in a world who's quivering and wavering with question
i've been blessed with the precious gift of time
and i see kings with false notions of our possibilities 
i hear only one voice
all kings sitting highest on the mountaintop eventually cannibalize themselves
man's lust is a dirty whore
i've been charmed and repelled by ms. america
and i'm free of her bondage now 
and know my country and its beauty is going to come from me
my america is a blank canvas and shall plant the seeds around me
no matter what soil i lay my bare feet
thanks to god
to the god of all nations
for i've been blessed with time 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cafe Windows....

I'm no longer seeing the world through the cafe window.  Well sometimes I am but at least now I'm out in the world as my true self again.  I love cafes and looking out the window on a rainy day.   When I get to Paris I could spend hours in the window, gazing at the scene and thinking and living off of bread.  I like eating simple and cheap and nourishing myself with culture.  Seems like the only thing that matters to me these days is staying on a path of growth.  It could be musically, artistically but mostly as a human.  Understanding is everything in this world, even today.  With all the modern devices, we are as confused as ever.  Fulfillment in simplicity, is what I'm after.  Sustainability. We need to go on a "fear of missing out" diet and get back to the essence of life.  


It sounds simple but stripping oneself down to the core is a life long journey and there are so many things tugging at us to make us think contentment lies in a product.  When I look at the Grand Canyon, I feel small and  feel our time here is but a speck in time.  It's healthy to feel these sort of things. It's better to look death in the face.  How else are you going to hear her secret.  Time is precious.

I was scared to hit the road again.  Scared that I might actually find what I was looking for.  Is that crazy?  It's true, many people shoot themselves in the foot like me.  I guess I fear luxury and not having to dig.  That is where I feel I find my true essence.  I think life is set up perfectly.  It's good to work for things and have obstacles.  I like limitations which is why I travel in 1987 VW Westfalia.  Sure you can go up to 75mph but the sweet spot is 63mph.  It sips not guzzles.  Sips miles and forces you to sit back and take it in.  

It's been amazing being in the van on the road.  There's a feeling of calm no matter where I am because it feels like home.  I always find that sense of home when I set up camp for the night, no matter where I am.  Some of my morning views are better than others.

My west coast trips are getting better and better and less intimidating.  First time I went through the desert, it kicked my ass.  I underestimated it.  It's good to get your ass kicked sometimes too.  Nothing worse than being too complacent. 

Only problem with camping in the desert for a few days is I come out singing like a wolf.  So much rage for the land.  It's nice though.  I'm cool with it.  

A Child Of The Wolf

Coonass hits the road to find the riddle of the wolf in nature.

When I first started touring, instead of making literal videos, I began weaving a story together that articulated things I feel and think about on the road.  This is part 4 of my series of films that started as a joke.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grand Point Music Hall, Eve of the Eve I......

It was a very surreal night to play on the stage at The Grand Point Music Hall.  It was really funny when I played on channel 4 a few times and they kept announcing the event on TV and every time I heard them say Grand Point Music Hall I laughed inside.  It was as if they said Carnegie Hall in their television voices, legitimizing Grand Point as a music destination.  

When I came up, there were no artist or musicians to look up to or suggest that I take the musical path so I strapped on a helmet and pretended I was 6'4" and worked hard and played football and baseball and anything else involving a ball.  When sports ran its course, I was left with a great work ethic passed down from local leaders like Norman Buckner on to my parents, to Coach Tim who helped me learn to sit in the pocket and develop confidence as a quarterback.  

When I privately took an interest in music in college, I never really told anyone.  I just played for my own enjoyment and eventually discovered a singing voice.  In acting school in NY, I was encouraged that I was indeed an artist and could put to rest any insecurities I had coming from a small Louisiana town.  I remember before leaving for NY reading Marlon Brando's biography and pointing out to my parents that he was from a small town too and that I was not crazy for wanting to test myself in the big city.  

When Tommy and Seth asked me to play there, we decided to wait a few months to play the Eve of Christmas Eve.  No one would be working, everyone would be anticipating the Bonfires and I wanted to add to the holiday tradition.  Wanted to drag it out, smash it on the floor and make it stick around for awhile.  

It was so good to see the mix of people young and old and even old Uncle Dave and Pim stuck around to rock out into the wee hours.  When I heard his Ahhhheeeeee, I knew things were going well.  

It was nice to see my cousins and share stories of building huge Bonfires and see their kids coming of age, building their own.  It was especially nice to share my new song "Along The River Road" with everyone.  My old ancient song, bouncing off the old cypress walls.  All that wood in there reminded me of being in Big Sur in California on the coast, sitting by a fire in a cabin.  All these years since leaving Grand Point, seeing her from afar helped me to see the beauty in the eroding culture.  

Brent Boe provided some much needed good vibes from the side of the stage with all his crew.  It pure pleasure to remind them of their childhood swagger playing Johnny O's "Fantasy Girl".

Was happy to have Margaret Hebert on the vintage Wurlitzer.  I'm learning a lot about my own music from playing with her.  Even though she nearly cut her finger off during the week, she was still able to play beautifully.

Thanks to all who came from near and far.  I feel like if I had continued on a major label and sold out in the slightest way, we would have never had that kind of night, that kind of connection.  Someone asked me where I learned to sing like that and I just told them that it was just the sound of someone who kept getting up after being knocked down.  It was the sound of the resilience of Patti Ann and Nelta Louque, the sound of old Grand Point. The sound of a boy who thinks he's TaTa Jones.

Photos by: Paul Hebert

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Along The River Road...

Before I left for my December tour, I built a tiny bonfire on the river back home in St. James Parish.  We used to build huge ones with a bow saw, me and my cousin Gerard would do the cutting.  It would take two months because it was so big.  It was normal to spend all day finding the center pole, hauling it and recruiting help to get it in the hole.  Each year the logs got fatter and me and Gerard would dare to cut down the biggest tree in the woods.  

I enjoyed having a goal and working towards the end and being able to climb to the top of it.  One of my favorite things to do during the month of December is to make campfires on the river at night and cook on the open flame.  My nephews and I camped out on the river the day we built this before I left.  We were so tired that night but managed to stay up playing Batteille and hanging in the upstairs bed of my Westfalia.  

photo by: Margaret Hebert

My cousins laugh at me because I had a hard time cutting down trees.  We built this mostly with trees that had been felled.  

I've always loved these trees with the moss growing on them.  Next week when I get back in town, I'm looking forward to putting the cane reed on it so it will pop when we light it.  

For many years, I've been wanting to write a Christmas song but could never whip myself up in the right mood.  Christmas Eve hasn't been the same since my grandmother died.  I remember making up songs in the back of the truck on the way to her house on Christmas Eve.  I beat on boxes and sing about the people in our family we were going to see.  Such pure joy being a kid on that day knowing you'll eat your dad's gumbo, open presents and then go to the river for the bonfires.  

After a few years of living in Brooklyn, I remember returning home for Christmas Eve and when they lit the fireworks and the fires started to catch, I was in the middle of the roaring crowd and had the chills thinking of our tradition that had died but was reminded that it was still going on and that I had to let go and make new ones.

Last November, I sang at my cousin Patti Poirrier Amato's funeral.  The choir director, Mrs. Poche, told me I'd have to sing a long time because there were a lot of people in the church going to communion.  I began making a song up at the end of Amazing Grace, I don't know where it came from but it resonated with everyone and brought a certain peace.  I was encouraged to write a Christmas song after that experience.  I've been all over and have never found a tradition like ours.  It's a beautiful thing that there's still a place in the world, where the doors remain open to strangers, with a place at the table.  So let it snow in the mountains, I'll take my fire by the river.  Happy Holidays.  "Light the fire, I'll be coming, coming home"!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mourning For The City Of Light, For Mankind....

Here we go again.  More crazy terror.  I not only feel for Paris but all the small countries that experience this everyday and we don't hear about it or maybe we do but can't quite connect to it like we can to the City of Light.  We can't even connect to it when it happens on our own soil.  I remember being in Williamsburg during 911.  It was quite a feeling.  Everybody put their coolness and clever attitudes away and needed each other for a bit.  It wasn't long before they all slipped back into cool and began smearing the beard wax.  

I often feel too serious and wish I could make cool music or fun music that people come to New Orleans to hear.  But I can only create truthfully.  I want to say the things that no one is saying.  Say the things that no one said in the months right after 911 when everyone was about go spiraling back into the nothingness of money, cool and the new crack, social media. Andy Warhol had no idea it would be more than 15 minutes people needed.

The other night I came across a notepad that read "Letters To Patti Ann".  These were letters written to my cousin Patti when I lived in Brooklyn.  She had almost died and woke up with no arms and legs.  Now what do you say to someone when their world is turned on its head?  The letters are encouraging as I'm experiencing great difficulty trying to will out a record out of myself for the first time.  It was because of Patti's late brother Joey that I set myself on a new path in life.  I vowed at his funeral to never let myself slip into nothingness and to follow my path no matter how afraid I was.  I've always felt that "So Long" was a heavy record but people have been finding it over the years.  Now I realize why it feels the way it does.  These letters tell the story for sure.  They are direct and almost feel like they're from someone who's a military leader.  In one letter, I'm telling Patti that I woke up to the sounds of sirens and looked out my window and saw the World Trade Center was smoking.  Ladies were running to me as they got off the Williamsburg Bridge with fear in their eyes.  How do you let these things go?  Where do they go?  I've never been able to let these experiences settle anywhere and hide.  I wish there was a leader that had a deep wisdom and the ability to get to the people's hearts and slow everything down.  From this day on, I'm not going to feel bad or weird and judgmental towards my music.  I'm going to let it be.  Maybe I'll never have a hit song, but when it's all over I will have lived truthfully in my time.  "I walk onto the wild side, Wildflower."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I'm the Elephantheadd......

I stumbled into this room at the Pink Pony in New York in 1997.  The lower east side to be exact, on Ludlow St.  Fresh from the country, just got a new cut and some over the top sun glasses and probably some new shoes or something.  I love feeling brand new or not recognizing myself and being in a strange city and not knowing anyone and finding value for myself.  I loved sitting in this corner.  "Please hold me the forgotten way!"  I'd look at all the pictures on the wall.  Warhol, Lou Reed, all kinds of artist from the neighborhood over the years who became iconic symbols of the best eras of downtown.   

I must admit, at that particular time deep inside I wondered "how the hell you gonna pull this one off Putty?" I looked at those pics and thought about each one of them when they first stepped foot in the city.  They were nothing too and had come here to be sharpened by the city's stone.  All I needed was a little hope and small victories to keep going and some things to seduce me in the right directions.  I'd definitely trust my instincts and follow them despite my inhibitions.  It's not that I wanted my picture on the wall, I left that one up to Vincent Gallo.  His picture was already up on the wall.  I couldn't figure that one out.  It was too early for that shit man.  He had only made a few films and a few records but was really good at the mystique thing.  It wasn't the picture on the wall I was seeking.  I wanted the "all knowing smile" on their faces.  The comfort with themselves after wrestling with their own creative demons for years.  I wanted the look of the prized fighter too but I knew a fight was coming and was ready.  The fight would be the life.  The picture would just be a picture on the wall with nothing to say really.  No one knew what those pics were saying, what they were thinking.  

Sometimes I dream I am a man who dreams of having a mustache.  He thinks it has hidden powers of persuasion.  He makes great espresso and even roast his own beans.  

Singing in a vocal booth for the first time with a room full of people in the control room is probably the most frightening thing I've ever done.  Singing over strange loops and beats was my way of getting into music.  

Stella Adler made me an artist.  I'll say that forever.  I didn't believe I had creativity in me until I went to the conservatory.  Well, I knew I was creative but didn't really believe it yet.  
"Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art"

The machinist son, laden with opportunity.  It wasn't going to be wasted.

This guy achieved success in being himself.  I see him every time I go Paris.  It's beautiful to see people.  I never forget a face.  I'm the Elephantheadd.

I've struggled to hold onto the artist in me sometimes.  I guess every artist has self doubt.  When I'm around familiar things from childhood, I forget.  Forget what I've done and all the work I've put in.  It's so silly, but I imagine everyone deals with these thoughts.

And then your super talented friends come to town and let you know that you're not normal and invite you up on stage.  The Coco Rosie girls have always been inspiring too me in their defiance of the norm and what it is to be a woman in this era. If the Pink Pony were still open, I believe their picture should go up.   

One trick I have is to pinch roll my jeans to remind me of the swagger of the late 80's.  I will always be a New Waver despite what music I'm playing.  

I was in a temporary apartment last winter and all I needed was a picture and a blue guitar.  This picture holds me accountable somehow.  When you are an artist you need to be held accountable.  Get in front of the work and do it.  It's one of the hardest things to do.  Trust, and it shall come.  

To remain a child is the goal.  Childlike in your relation to things.  It's hard to stay naive after you learn the corruption of the world but all one really needs is a little corner of the world to do his work. I'd live in a box so that my creativity may live.