Singer/songwriter Andrew Duhon from New Orleans has released three albums, the most recent of which, “The Moorings,” was nominated for a Grammy, and is currently creating music with The Andrew Duhon Trio. We had the opportunity for an exclusive interview to talk about his influences, new music, and upcoming performances, one of which is here in College Station. On February 19, Andrew Duhon will be performing at The Hay Rack Concert House, from 4:30-6:30pm. The suggested donation for the event is $10-$15, and kids can attend for free.
MW: How did you know that music was what you wanted to create?
AD: I’m not sure I’ll ever know what I want. A less exacting answer: The desire to write a song showed up one day like any other desire. The difference is the desire to write never left. It’s always there. It’s an affliction. It haunts me as much as it is therapeutic. We all have our ways. Why songwriting for me? I’m not sure. I was set along the path in high school thanks in large part to delta blues, Dylan, Prine Croce, and an English teacher, Mr. Roso. His assignments were American literature and poetry, and his magic was coaxing me to dig deeper, beyond my own skepticism about what “art” really was and my impatience for nuance, and “read between the lines” as he said. Fast forward to solo tours in the UK, and being blown away by the modern art at the Tate Modern in London. Had I never been taught to be patient with art, let it speak, I would not have appreciated the Tate Modern, and I may not have become a songwriter. So, shout out to Mr. Roso. Speaking of writing, I still need to write that guy a letter.
MW: How would you define your musical style?
AD: The style of music I bend toward has a folk or roots lean. It’s the sensibilities I heard in the songs I loved when I picked up a guitar, nurturing my own ear to find a musical voice is an ongoing thing. I see “Singer/Songwriter” used to describe a musical style sometimes, but that doesn’t describe a musical style, does it? That’s like describing what a fruit tastes like as “Grower/Seed bearer.” But if I had to use that description, I like the order “Songwriter/Singer” better.
MW: Who did you listen to growing up that influenced your sound?
AD: Whoever they played on the country station in New Orleans that my father played through his ‘87 Dodge Caravan car stereo. I guess it wasn’t “who.” It was the songs. Country songs used to be really beautifully written. After that it was early blues stuff like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt that hit me in high school. Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” had a jazz/lyrical performance element that was eye opening, The Band was everything I thought American music should be, and as I gravitated more and more to lyrics, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.
MW: Your latest release, “The Moorings,” was nominated for a Grammy in 2014. Did you anticipate its success?
AD: It’s frighteningly easy to make an “album” these days. It doesn’t take much conviction or even a budget to just create a CD, so I think any leg up in proving to people that there is creative conviction inside a particular album is a nice thing. I think the Grammy nomination was a nice bit of promo. Trina Shoemaker produced/engineered the record, and [she] was the reason it was nominated.
MW: How has your sound changed throughout the years?
AD: I think I’m a better guitar player. Touring with the trio has pushed my musicianship. Maxwell Zemanovic (drums) and Myles Weeks (bass) are the best musicians I’ve ever played with, and it’s a lucky thing to be focused on telling a personal story while being musically inspired by my two riding podnuh’s.
MW: When do you anticipate releasing new music with The Andrew Duhon Trio?
AD: We’ll be recording in Nashville in April with producer Eric Masse (Rayland Baxter, Miranda Lambert, Andrew Combs) and I hope to release in August/September. Jano Rix of the Wood Brothers will also be joining us on keys.
MW: Are there any upcoming tours that we can look forward to?
AD: The full list is at Andrewduhon.com, but being in Bryan/College Station, there’s the show 2/19 at the Hay Rack solo, then I’ll be back with the trio May 13th for the Rockaway CF Benefit Fest. I’ve played that event the past few years. I met the creator of the event, Zack Varner and his wife, Jessica at a gig in Houston back when. Zack and Jess have a son with cystic fibrosis and took it upon themselves to create and spearhead the whole thing to raise money for the CF cause. To compound the stress of all it takes to put on an event like that, it rained all day for the Rockaway event two years in a row. I’d be pretty destroyed if I put all that work in, but Zack and Jess had a smile on both times. Great folks. Great event. Great cause. Here’s hoping for sunshine May 13th!