B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Andrew Duhon: I’ll go with a ‘striper’ or striped bass. I’m out on the New England coast at the moment and have been doing a little fishing here and there with minimal luck. Perhaps ‘to be the fish’ would turn my luck around.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Duhon: For me it was the nature of poetry, a few words being greater than the sum of their parts, that captivated me and still does.
B&L: How’d it come calling to you (music)?
Duhon: I saw a vastness in the economy of a Robert Frost poem and in the sound of delta blues. Since then, finding my voice has been my aim. What is it that I have to say? My passion lies in the pursuit of honest storytelling that might speak to the human condition in a way that celebrates the human connection in all of us.
B&L: Let’s talk about your latest record, “The Moorings.” What sort of goals did you have for yourself when you set out to make this record?
Duhon: ‘The Moorings’ was certainly the best collection of songs I’d written and I was proud to record it. I hope I say that every time I make a new record.
B&L: The thing was nominated for a Grammy Award! That’s kind of neat, no? What does that sort of accolade do for a storyteller?
Duhon: It’s a nice bit of promo for sure. Harlan Howard, Nashville songwriter said, “All it takes is three chords and the truth.” I think that’s right, and it makes standing out from the crowd an arduous task. The Grammy Nomination was helpful in that respect, though I only consider it a superficial way to get folks to tune it. It’s the songs that I hope speak to the listener independent of accolade, of course.
B&L: I know you know this, but the record has been out for a bit… That said, we hear there’s something new coming out in 2018. Tell us about it…
Duhon: Indeed. It is, as I said, the best collection of songs I’ve written, and its also the first time I’ve made a record without a ‘hired guns’ band scenario. The trio I’m on tour with was the ‘hired gun’ trio that recorded the latest record, ‘The Moorings’ with me four years ago. They are the best musicians I’ve ever played with. The thing was, after that recording session, we just kept playing together. We hit the road for three years together and still going. This record is a collection of songs I’ve written that have been musically informed by this trio. They’ve pushed me in directions and pulled things out of me I may not have found otherwise. I’m honored to play with these guys, and truly proud of the record we were able to make together. We recorded it in Nashville with producer, Eric Masse, who also did wonders to help these tunes blossom in the studio. I can’t wait to share this stuff, but in the meantime, we’ll play plenty of those new tunes at this show.
B&L: Is songwriting an easy or arduous process for you? Are you a fly-by- the-seat- of-the-pants kind of writer, or do you schedule “office hours”?
Duhon: I think it’s more like paper mache than it’s like ‘office writing’. The pieces come whenever/wherever. I write them in my pocket notebook and come back to them. As pieces come together and I start to recognize the complexion, then the songwriting begins. I’d say I edit quite a bit, but sometimes the song or parts of it sing themselves to you.
B&L: What led you to pick up a guitar and start singing in the first place? When did you think, ‘yup, this is something I ought to try for a bit…’?
Duhon: I thought I’d play baseball at a small college, but when my shoulder gave out, I knew I’d need something to get the girls at university… so I picked up a guitar.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Duhon: Man, so many. I love the songs that truly cost the songwriter something to write. Here’s one:
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” – recorded by Bonnie Raitt
B&L: How does New Orleans inspire/inform your music? When people think of the music coming out of NOLA the first thing that comes to their mind isn’t “singer/songwriter.” Is that a challenge? Or is it an overall “blessing” to come from such fertile musical grounds?
Duhon: I don’t know what its like to grow up elsewhere, but I know that New Orleans inevitably finds its way into everyone who is creative here. It is a part of you as I imagine anywhere one calls home would be. As I’ve traveled around playing for the last 12 or so years, it has become clear that New Orleans is special in many ways. It has a soul and a history it hasn’t forgotten. New Orleans breathes, and I think that breath gives her artists an added mystique. I welcome that. Artistically I don’t intend to fit the postcard of New Orleans in any way, but I do hope that as I continue to write, I’ll continue to find inspiration in that city and find ways to write about her in honest ways.
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform at the Word Barn on September 9th?
Duhon: My bias is on the table, but: The way this trio moves together musically is something I’ve never known before. Songwriting is what I do, but the musical experience is why we cross the country to play. I have reason to believe this will be a special show for everyone.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Duhon: Off the top… how about 12 quaint abodes in 12 different countries to spend one month a year in each? 12 feels excessive, and that’s a lot of moving around and changing touring hubs. Perhaps I’ll try it out for a couple years then sell half of the properties if that’s allowed?
The Andrew Duhon Trio will visit the Word Barn on Saturday, September 9th. For tickets and information visit click here.