Andrew Duhon At the Hotel Cafe, Friday November 14Th 2014
Andrew Duhon is from New Orleans, and you have certain expectations about the music coming from the Big Easy, whatever it is Jazz, Blues, Dixieland, Cajun or Zydeco,… however Duhon’s music is deeply attached to the folk tradition, bringing Americana-injected melodies, sung with a twang in the voice and resonating like heartfelt stories.
He was performing as the Andrew Duhon Trio at the Hotel Café on Friday night in Los Angeles, and his powerful and warm voice immediately conquered the place and the audience. He is a guy with a strong presence, although not overwhelming, and his acoustic sound captivated me at the first song. He played his first song, ‘Just Another Beautiful Girl’, with a natural confidence like the rest of his set, and introduced it as a ‘song about Jesus’ – but it turned to be rather a song about a girl, with lyrics like ‘She was the prettiest thing that they had ever seen / In a small town run on God and gasoline’… ‘But they wore that bible belt just a little too tight’. The old fashioned style of the ensemble, with acoustic to bluesy guitars, an upright bass and some discreet drums was perfectly serving the sonic beauty of the melodies,…
Many people have certainly tried the folk adventure and it seems impossible to reinvent it every time, but there was something very sincere, down-to-earth and uplifting in these songs, although anchored in a real tradition, as he even visited England as he explained… Andrew was indeed talking quite a lot between the songs, telling stories, giving explanations and back-stories before playing, totally connecting with the public and giving us the complete and unique live performance.
Most of the songs had a quiet melancholia, deeply rooted in the human experience, others had an ancient and peaceful feeling, like the uplifting and Celtic-tinged title track of the album ‘The Moorings’, others were a bit bluesier, with a real country accent, Bob Dylan’s harmonica and Van Morrison’s breezy melodies, like ‘Rest On Her Shoulder’…. I even thought at one point he may be a good candidate to do a duet with artists like Laura Marling or Ray Lamontagne.
The abundant story-telling between the songs may have removed a bit of mystery surrounding them, but I could tell Andrew was a straightforward and genuine kind of guy, telling us that ‘Cecilia’ was inspired by an old photograph of a beautiful girl who was alive in the 40s… The trio did a surprising, very slow down and almost sad cover of the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive’, and it was certainly not the kind of songs you would expect from a guy who seemed to be much more interested by English folk tradition than disco music, but honesty will make any song yours. And after ‘Time will Tell’ which had a satisfying cathartic effect, starting slowly then bringing sonic uplifts that make you see stars, he showed his more stompy-swampy side with the muddy delta blues of ‘Sidestep your Grave’, accompanied by a fat drumming and a slide guitar. After his last song, and the slowly sprawling melancholia of ‘Shelter You Through’, people wanted him to go on but the strict schedule of the Hotel Café did not allow him to play more songs.
Andrew Duhon has released ‘The Moorings’, his sophomore full-length album described as ‘a twelve-track collection of blues and folk inspired tunes that are equally soulful and melodic’… Interestingly, he cites the literary works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and Robert Frost as his inspiration, beside the obvious musical references that can cross your mind… Andrew Duhon is just 27, but watching him on stage, singing his emotional songs with his full and dusky voice, it was clear that he was exulting a maturity way beyond his years, not trying to be just another troubadour for the new generation, but a songwriter wanting to make an universal impact by touching anyone with sincere music.
Andrew has just started a tour, so catch him if you can!
11/14/14 – Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, CA
11/15/14 – Hotel Utah – San Francisco, CA
11/16/14 – Passing Through Sessions – Bakersfield, CA
11/19/14 – Mississippi Pizza – Portland, OR
11/20/14 – Sam Bond’s Garage – Eugene, OR
11/21/14 – Baldacci Winery Event – Napa, CA
11/22/14 – Truett Hurst Winery Event – Sonoma, CA
11/23/14 – VML Winery Event – Sonoma, CA
11/26/14 – Saxon Pub – Austin, TX