Ladies and gentlemen, you're about to behold a sight so strange, so horrifying, so utterly monstrous, that I urge you who are easily frightened or upset, who suffer from nervous disorders, weak hearts, or queasy stomachs, who experience nightmares, and any children under the age of 16, to forgo witnessing this exhibit. There are only two kinds of freaks ladies and gentlemen. Those created by God, and those made by man. The creature in this pit is a living breathing human being that once was... well, that's another story that happened a long time ago, a long way from here. Look if you must. The Drunken Man. Born of normal parents, from a normal society, who has now become a freak of nature. He’s The Drunken Man ladies and gentleman. Watch him as a walks with a stumble. He talks with a mumble. Sometimes crawls on his belly like an alligator from the swamps of south Louisiana. The Drunken Man. Watch him wrestle himself and spew obscenities while laughing hysterically to jokes only he can understand. Step right up ladies and gentlemen and see death defying feats of the drunken man. Just don’t get too close and for God’s sake, don’t look into his drunken bloodshot eyes…
: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Mandolin, Accordion, Keyboards, Percussion
With special guests…
Pedal Steel (4, 5, 9, 11)
Molly Sue Gonzalez
: Vocals (8)
: Screaming Banshee (6)
: Fiddle (5)
: Vocals (9)
: Vocals (9)
: Wind and Rain (6)
(Cajun French for “listen” - pronounced ay coo tay) began in May of 2012 and has been a learning and growing time period for my life and my music. I had been wanting a band here in town, but players that get my groove are few and far between in this part of the country it seems. I have been working with some cats in New Orleans, as well as my former PHT band-mates in Nashville. But I wanted a record that was done my way, on my own time. So I began recording this project alone, doing all of the instrumentation myself, aside from a few guest appearances thanks to the amazing wonder of the interwebs. Here is a song by song breakdown of Ecoute! (In no particular order)
La Porte D’en Arriere: This is a Cajun standard written by D.L. Menard and is my first recording attempt on this new record. I had married my wife Jenny in Louisiana in March of this year and she had bought me a Cajun button box accordion as a wedding present. I have had a big infatuation with the Cajun culture and particularly the music sung in Cajun French. I am still far off from learning to speak it but I still love listening to it. D.L. does this song completely in Cajun French. I really wanted to do it that way, but I would probably be still trying to learn it. I did find a recording, from my Tennessee friend Possum Patty, of Rufus Jagneaux doing it in English. Aside from the main line being Cajun French. So I jumped right on it. Learning my first few words of Cajun and adding a overdriven guitar (which will always sit well with me) to create my first song under the Parish Commissioners name.
Bedico Blues: This was my second song I recorded at the same time as La Porte D’en Arriere. I didn’t really have a song in mind when I started into this one. I began playing with some New Orleans flavored beats and just started adding the bass and fuzz guitars. I began writing words to it, but nothing felt quite right and as the big muff on the guitar was added, I immediately thought of Davie Allen and The Arrows and all of the cool 60’s biker instrumental music they did. So I then hunted for some good Harley motorcycle clips to fulfill that groove. Now wanting to keep in the vibe of the Louisiana thing, I added some whistle, rub board and an extended NOLA funeral march feel. In place of the lyrics in this, I search out old movie clips of a Cajun family speaking as the father gives his young son a rifle for a present. Walla. The Bedico Blues. Bedico is the next little town over from where I live. I think I really do live in Bedico, but I have a Ponchatoula address. I was so excited about these first two tunes that I went ahead and released them as a digital single in August of 2012 advancing a new record that was yet to be.
So now I’ve built this hype on myself, and set goals to make a full length record. So here we go…..
Tell Me Your Mind: This is an original song of mine that has been in the vaults since, hell, maybe 1996? I have a deep passion for 60’s garage-punk music since my time in the early 90’s with The M80’s. After those guys disbanded and I moved back to my hometown of Maryland, I started another garage-punk band called Truman Sparks. This was a song I threw around a few times with them, but never finished. So I finally added a few changes, some more words, and a nifty bridge. It is now one of my favorites on the new record.
Hot Rod Honey: This is another old tune of mine from that Truman Sparks era. I had recently pulled it back out with The Vaporizers in Nashville, and then started doing it with The Parish Commissioners. I wanted to make sure I had some good old rock and roll on this album. I added a new bridge into the guitar solo on this one as I recorded it to keep things fresh. ROCK!!!
Spotlight: This is a David Allen Coe song that has morphed itself multiple times over. I had originally recorded this song, doing all of the instruments for a recording I was doing with Eddie Holly in Nashville, during the summer of 2011. So this whole album actually gets started a year before in the summer of 2012.) I had really fallen in love with this tune, and just somehow related to it in the personal turmoil I was going through at the time. So I did my own lead vocals to it with Molly Conley singing backups. While I was touring with JP Harris during that summer, I had Asa Brosius lay some pedal steel for it on a day off at my house in Nashville. This now was going to be a bonus track to the final Porter Hall Tennessee single Outside Our Heads backed with You Should Tell Yourself. PHT split the following month and all of these tunes were shelved. So I later pulled the file out here in Louisiana, and I decided to finally include it here. I split the vocals between Me, Eddie, and Molly and rerecorded the bass line. This is sort of my paying homage to the end of an era, and more importantly, just a damn good song.
Dance Of Death: Last year I lost my dear friend Randy Jones to cancer. Randy has been musical companion and inspiration to me since we became band-mates and buddies back in the mid-nineties. I recorded another one of Randy’s songs on the 2002 release Welcome To Porter Hall Tennessee called Screwed Blue. This song is still a standard in all of my live shows. I then started doing Dance of Death (Originally a Voodoo Love Gods song that Randy had written in the early 80s) at Commissioner rehearsals. I decided to include it in this recording. I had just gotten the drums and bass laid down as Hurricane Isaac hit Louisiana this past September. With microphones in place at the windows, I began recording the wind and rain sounds as the storm approached while we still had power. As I was listening back to what I recorded, I decided to sync it up to the new bass and drum tracks. It seemed to fit right in and the song began to take shape. Then, I added the button box and debuted Jenny as my screaming banshee vocals. I think I listened to the rough mix for a month straight. It is now one of my favorites and it blurs even more genres lines within this album.
Lowdown Broke Down: This song was the last song that I wrote in Nashville before moving to Louisiana. I had recorded it on my solo acoustic record Yesterday Bitter Forgotten. I wanted to do a different full band version on here. Then I got the pedal steel part back from Asa and it just sounded so cool, I decided to not add any other instruments and actually strip the drums back off of it. It seems to just set the mood of this tune as an acoustic number. And did I mention the killer pedal steel that now plays weepingly over the entire track??
Tip Jar: This is a tune I have been performing live for a few years now, since the days of Porter Hall Tennessee. It was written by my good friend Jimmy Swope. Jimmy and I have been in numerous bands together over the years, and his playing has been a big influence on the sound I have today. Aside from being an super bad ass guitar player, he is an awesome songwriter. This is just one example. This man can tell a story from a point of view that you can’t just make up. Ya gotta live it to write it folks.
New Orleans Here I Come: This is a fun little honky-tonkin’ number originally recorded by George Jones and Brenda Carter and written by Lee Fykes in 1969. It was originally titled “Milwaukee Here I Come.” It seems that New Orleans fit the theme of this record and my current state. Molly Sue Gonzalez from Nashville joins me on vocals on this recording as Asa lays down the pedal steel.
Down By The Licky Store: Well what can I really say about this one? I was just sitting around the studio one day as I was putting together the final list of songs for this record. For some reason, I started thinking about this old little tune I had come up with many years ago in Maryland. I MAY have done this a time or two with The Lonely Hog Callers, but I honestly can’t remember. It’s a silly little thing done to the tune of Down By The Riverside. So I’m not really sure if I can even call it an original song. But I just started having fun adding more and more vocals and decided I needed to track down a kazoo for the solo part. So here it is…
Two Steps, Sad Songs, and Roses: This tune is sort of a biographical song of what lead up to me being where I am today, and really making this whole recording. I like to jokingly refer to this one as my He Stopped Loving Her Today, or some other epic George Jones tune. If you haven’t noticed yet, George Jones is my number one favorite singer in the whole world. If I ever touch on one tenth of the power and soul put through that man’s voice, my job here is completed. So anyway, this tune pretty much sums up my life 2 summers ago through touring with a honky-tonk band, divorce, and leaving the state I called home for so many years. I kinda wanted this track somewhere right in the middle to just jump out and tell yall what the hell happened to a little hillbilly singer in Tennessee. This song was written as it was being recorded. One of those songs that just came pouring out one day.
Cajun Angel: So this song was written right after Two Steps, Sad Songs, and Roses, and is also recorded and written simultaneously as well. It is also another biographical song. A true story, like most everything I write. I wanted a nice uplifting tune to pay homage to my new wife Jenny. She is truly my Cajun Angel. She found me at my lowest point in life, picked me up, dusted off the debris, and showed me a new wonderful life here in Louisiana. The lyrics are a bit lighthearted, but I wanted it to be fun. Cause that is our life together. Having fun and living in love. Laissez les bon temps rouler!! Asa Brosius guests on pedal steel and Alvin Tucker lays down the fiddle. This also showcases my very limited Cajun French. ;)
Carnival Of The Drunken Man: Well it may be a bit odd that I am including this, but it is an actual titled track on this thing. The opening track at that! Down By The Licky Store sounded to me like some side show tent act at a carnival. So I came up with the idea to add a carnival barker with carousels and games while people wandered the exhibits. The barker should be trying to rally people in to see some kind of carnival freak. So what more of a freak than the all intriguing drunken man? That’s worth a quarter for a peek, right? And then I just happened to have some clips of the ultimate drunken freak in Nashville (and no I’m not speaking of myself) from a little dive bar on the East Side. So while recording the barker clip, I felt this drunken man should have his own little showcase. I also felt it would be a good lead into the opening track La Porte D’en Arriere. So the Carnival Of The Drunken Man took on it’s on track and now kicks off this whole recording.
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Boogalee Recording Studios, Ponchatoula, LA
Photos by Jenny Roadarmel Photography