In New Orleans, famous for its Rhythm & Blues and Jazz traditions, Shad Weathersby has stood out as one of the city’s top folk and Americana singer-songwriters for the past three decades. His fifth album, THE BEATEN PATH, showcases his quirky-but-thought-provoking lyrics and well-crafted timeless acoustic-based music.
On THE BEATEN PATH, Weathersby’s friends return to make appearances. Frosty Horton produced (he has also produced recordings by Professor Longhair, Jenn Adams and Mark Sloniker among others) with Sam Broussard co-producing about half the tunes. Shad wrote all the songs (one with Broussard and one with John Meunier). The musicians include pianist George Winston (who wrote a special intro for “Orleans Rain”); guitarist Broussard (who has played with Linda Ronstadt and Michael Martin Murphey); bassist Byron House (Nickel Creek, Sam Bush); pianist Steve Conn (Bonnie Raitt, Shelby Lynne); bouzouki player Butch Baldassari (Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, Richard Greene); oboist Roger Wiesmeyer (principle oboist for the Nashville Symphony); and drummer Craig Krampf (Warren Zevon, Melissa Etheridge).
“My songs are little stories, small slices of life, things I want to describe and tell people about,” explains Weathersby. “My albums are ‘life markers,’ points of reference along my journey. The key for me is to let the songs come when they’re ready and not spend too much time on the nuts and bolts of the music. I want the music to have an honesty and purity about it instead of being formulated in any way. To me every song I write is like a time capsule capturing a moment in history.”
“I love New Orleans and I wasn’t about to let Hurricane Katrina drive me away,” states Weathersby, who also is a woodworking craftsman and runs a furniture refinishing business. “I have been working hard restoring Katrina-damaged furniture, so THE BEATEN PATH album served as a personal catharsis and healing process after so much devastation.”
Weathersby utilizes southern Louisiana imagery in some of his compositions including “Scatter Our Love” (“a tribute to a French Quarter bar, the owner Benny Barker, and all the friends I hung out with there who scattered when Benny died”), “Orleans Rain” (“my memories of this city and all the storms and hurricanes that have come through here”), “Last Lonely YAT” (“a song for all the displaced people from New Orleans who know a YAT is a local character who uses the colloquial phrase ‘Where y’at?’”), “Summer Gecko Night” (“a small boy lies in bed watching lizards on his window while his parents have a party in the other room”), and “Hallows Eve 1903” (“a walk through the French Quarter on Halloween night a hundred years ago”).
His music reflects Shad’s eclectic tastes and it ranges from progressive-folk to rootsy Americana and on to polished pop-rock. The lyrics cover a broad spectrum of subject matter – “Beaten Path” (“the ancient creator watching the progress of humankind from primitive instinctive animal to wherever we are now”), “Naked Man” (“expressing our vulnerability to newly-emerging Level-Four species-jumping lethal viruses”), “She Is A Song” (“how love can keep you sane against the pressures of the world”), “Mary” (“being in that position of wanting faith and peace, but struggling with religious belief”), “East Meets West” (“a tongue-in-check culture clash”), and a pair of “off-center love songs” (“Tell Me” and “Chuckie Wrote Me a Poem”).
“But these descriptions are just general guidelines. Mostly I want to stimulate the listener’s thought process and then they can bring their own interpretations to the songs. I write the songs on acoustic guitar so that is a big part of the sound. I wanted the music to be natural, warm and organic."