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