Some occasional thoughts on my music
and how it happens – ok, some other stuff, too
11-22-21 On the release of Crescent City Exile
Crescent City Exile is all about that part of me that is, and always will be, New Orleans. It’s music and lyrics inspired by the sounds and the sights and the smells and the food and the music. I first sang on Bourbon Street when I was 13 or 14. Despite my age, when I sang I was welcomed into that fraternity of those to whom the music was what mattered. Players and singers decades older, far more seasoned— from different cultures and backgrounds somehow recognized something in me that warranted “letting the kid sing.”
Throughout my teenage years with fledgling soul and R&B bands, it was always the New Orleans tunes that filled the song list and filled the dance floor. I was too young to know what a gift I was being given, what a tradition I was to become heir to or that one day my own songs would be added to the catalog.
This is that day.
With Crescent City Exile, I live the dream of giving back—the dream of writing great songs about this great city, filled with the gifts I was given in the SW Louisiana honky-tonks watching Clifton Chenier, in the juke joints of Northern Louisiana and Arkansas where that simmering mix of blues and backbeat country and rhythm and blues made every song sound raw and immediate and urgent — but especially filled with the singular sound of New Orleans that touched me, changed me. It was and is the home of the blues and the spirits of Big Bill Broonzy and Mississippi Fred Macdowell co-mingle with Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet and led directly to Professor Longhair, Dave Bartholomew and Allen Toussaint, The Neville Brothers and more.
My hope for this disc is that these songs somehow find a place in the great parade—that those who listen will know that I cared, treasured the gift, passed it on.
I care about songs and about songwriting. A lifetime of singing as my sole profession has made me care about the way songs are sung. With some luck, those who listen will know all of that to be true as well.
Crescent City Exile is a prayer of thanks, a celebration of joy, an honoring of the gift. Small recompense perhaps, but born of the gratitude that forever lives in my soul.
(3-8-22) Some thoughts on the Uktaine War
Yes, it is horrifying. Spectacularly so to a Covid-weary Western world that did not endure Kosovo or Chechnya or Syria or Rwanda so intimately as part of a 24-hour news cycle. It is a panoply of events we thought finally relegated to the past – and not just the war but the idea that one man can wreak such havoc, visit such destruction, inflict so much suffering. Is it any wonder we stare at our tv screens and our news feeds and our newspapers in disbelief and helplessness.
It is imperative that we find hope in the smallest of contributions, that we find meaning amidst our collective dismay in the expression of both sympathy and outrage. The collective consciousness moves the world forward and though it may seem of little impact, our participation is of utmost importance. Give, speak out, pray.
(5-10-22) An Evening with Chuck Berry