Sunday, February 13, 2011

Michael Juan Nunez and Drew Landry-Blue Moon Saloon, Lafayette La. 2/11/11

Michael Juan Nunez and Drew Landry
Written by Patty McGehee
Jonno, Juan, and Drew - photo by Patty McGehee

Dan, Larry, and I drove over to Lafayette Friday night to go to the Blue Moon to see Michael Juan Nunez and Drew Landry perform. In spite that it was a freezing cold night, about 100 people showed up to fill up the back porch.  The Blue Moon Saloon management had two butane heaters out there, but they barely made a dent in the chill.  

The three of us thought we were dressed warm enough, but since we rarely get below freezing temperatures here in South Louisiana, we were not prepared for the temperature as it dropped below freezing as midnight approached. I had on three layers and boots. It did no good. I got very cold in spite of this.

Patsy Grace and Jonno Frishberg took the stage first. It was hard to hear the performance because Patsy’s voice was not miked up very well and the crowd was not ready for a folk song type of performance at that point. I felt badly for her because the audience was too wound up to give her the quiet she needed to get her song across. After a few minutes the sound man upped the vocals and it made it easier to hear her beautiful voice.  It was bad circumstances. I was unable to take photos at that point because the digital camera had not cooled off to the temperature outside yet. Patsy did not introduce herself until she was almost finished. Later that night I asked her if she was scheduled to perform again sometime soon somewhere. She said, “No.” I think someone should have gone up before she started and introduced her. That would have been the polite thing to do.
Patty and  Drew  - photo by Dan McGehee

Drew Landry got up and sang two 
songs by himself. Drew writes songs 
with profound lyrics that have a 
deep connection to the soul of 
Louisiana. I am very much 
impressed by his writing abilities. 
Drew Landry - photo by Patty McGehee

After he was warmed up, it was wonderful to hear him play with a full band. Michael Juan Nunez was on lead, Chad Willis on bass, Jermaine Prejean on drums, and Jonno on fiddle. This set was fun to watch because Drew was excited and very happy to be on stage backed up by such talented friends. He played the song that he recorded with Dr. John about the oil spill. My favorite song was “Ninety Proof.” Drew gave me a copy of a CD with that song on it awhile back. I have wanted to hear a live performance of that song ever since. I was not disappointed.

Becca - photo by Patty McGehee

Drew sang “Would You Carry My Cross” accompanied by his mother, Becca Begnaud. She was beaming and very happy to be singing with her son. Becca and Drew sing harmony very well together and that was a treat. This is an especially well written, touching song. Drew’s dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named  Jackson was up on stage, getting into the action by stepping on Juan’s pedals, eating ice, and just snooping around. He finally went to sleep on top of Chad’s jacket right in the middle of all that music.

When writing his songs, Drew taps into the culture and traditions of native Louisiana, past and present. The next two songs he performed exemplified that experience. “Grobec,” the song also known by some fans as “The Game Warden’s song,” is haunting and forceful. It tells the story of a stubborn old timer that refuses to respect the importance of wild game conservation and lives to regret it. I really LOVE IT.

Juan and Drew - photo by Patty McGehee
The second song is about cock fighting. I think the lyrics go, “You can’t make a living with a chicken on a chain.” As I have mentioned before, cock fighting is part of my family history. I am not proud of it, but it “was what it was.”  The lyrics of  this song (written by a Mr. Richard) do not glorify it, either. It is about the sad fact that life fortunes and livelihoods were caught up in the ins and outs of gambling at the expense of the lives of chickens in a very inhumane manner. (Cockfighting was made illegal in Louisiana on August 15th, 2008.)

Drew,  Jackson, the dog,  and Chad - photo by Patty McGehee

Drew Landry - photo by Patty McGehee

Jermaine Prejean - photo by Patty McGehee

The crowd was wound up and really into the performance, while taking turns huddled up to the butane heater. I found it impossible to get up under the heater because there were so many people there. I got progressively colder and colder as time went on.

Drew ended the set with a song named “The Family Farm” and stepped down to let Michael Juan Nunez set up for his part of the show. Juan’s show had the same lineup except for Joe Gary (Hawley Joseph Gary III) on drums. This was because Dudley Fruge is on a cruse with Roddie Romero and The Hub City Allstars. At first I was disappointed to see Dudley gone, but Joe made up for the disappointment when he kicked ass on several of the songs.  

Michael Juan Nunez - photo by Patty McGehee  

Juan’s set was very clean. He played quite a few songs: “Water and Steel,” “My Cadillac,” and “Bulldog Bite.”  His slide playing is impressive. 

Jonno was hanging in there adding a bit of psychedelic fiddle.Juan got the crowd wound up during "Pocket Full of Jesus,”  yelling into his “Mainline” telephone/microphone. The crowd loved it!
MJN on the Mainline - by Patty McGehee

Michael Juan Nunez - photo by Patty McGehee
Chad Willis -photo by Patty McGehee

In my opinion, the two best songs of the night were “Don’t Mind Gettin,’ and “Rusted Blade.” During “Rusted Blade,” Chad took out a bow to use on the double Bass and Jonno made these wicked noises with the fiddle that made that song just a might bit more sinister than it already is. It was amazing.  
Jonno Frishberg and Michael Juan Nunez - photo by Patty McGehee
After Juan’s set, Drew came back to do an encore of sorts. He began to play the crowd pleasers, like “Mid South,” a song about wrestling that requires audience participation. Everyone there knew when and what to sing. Almost at the end of the  the night, he played a funny off color song just for his sister, who was in the audience. It was hilarious.  The final song was the Bobby Charles Guidry tribute song, "He ain't worrin' no more."

As soon as the music ended, the people left abruptly. Usually after a show at The Blue Moon, people mill around and visit but it was below freezing and most people were miserably cold. I had an urge to high tail it to the car myself, but not before telling Juan goodbye. He was freezing cold and exhausted at this point. He hugged me and shook hands with Dan and Larry. After a few exchanges of pleasantries, it was apparent that he needed to just pack up and get out of the cold. We bowed out, telling him and Drew we would see them on March 11th at Bourque’s Social club.

I tried to drive back, but while driving over the Atachafalaya Basin, I realized I was too tired to drive. Once off the bridge, I let Dan take over the wheel. I got in back and drifted off to sleep while the three of us were plotting out next trip to see Juan at Bourque’s on March 11th. I slept all the way back home. It was a very good night and I think somewhere around Baton Rouge, I began to get the feeling back into my frozen feet.
Joe Gary on drums way in the back - photo by Patty McGehee

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