Andrew Duhon – Tickets – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR – January 12th, 2019

Andrew Duhon

Gifted and acclaimed New Orleans songwriter with timeless aesthetic and 2018 LP, 'False River'

Andrew Duhon

Golden Promise

Sat, January 12, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$12 ADV / $15 DOS

This event is 21 and over

Mostly Standing / Limited Balcony Seating

Andrew Duhon
Andrew Duhon
“These may be the last letters I ever write her.”

That’s what Andrew Duhon told colleagues when they asked about the songs that became False River, which the New Orleans-based artist released independently on May 25. And False River feels revealing and vital, like key pages torn from a man’s most intimate journaled thoughts.

“I admire songs that tell a more honest, complicated love story,” says Duhon, whose previous release — 2013’s The Moorings — earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Engineered Album. After five years, Duhon had something new to tell of his story — not something comfortable but something courageous, not something easy but something true. An album about love that was more than love songs.

“I’m right there with everybody else, finding out just how complicated love can be,” he says. “I'd been on again off again with the best gal I'd ever known for more than five years. She was stalwart, sure of her love, willing to wait. I was unsure, confused as to why my heart wouldn't turn over for a relationship that felt so right. She set em up, I'd knock em down, we were an amazing team. We could have owned this city. I wrote many of the previous album's songs of longing with her in mind. Those were more hopeful. This time I was older. This time, love was too complicated to call any of it happy or sad, but it certainly cost me something to write these songs, and it certainly cost her something to love me.”

False River — named for an oxbow lake just northwest of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, formed when an 18th-century Mississippi River flood carved a more direct route to the Gulf of Mexico — was recorded in Nashville producer Eric Masse’s garage. Masse calls the behind-the-house studio The Casino, because it’s where he gambles with artists’ careers. Duhon found Masse — who has worked with Rayland Baxter, Andrew Combs and Miranda Lambert — via the kind of serendipitous encounter any player would recognize as a sign from the gods.

After months on the producer hunt without a sure answer, Duhon was at his go-to Nashville watering hole, a place called Mickey’s Tavern, and heard the guy next to him say he was from New Orleans. Naturally, they got to talking. “He’d been in town for a while as a touring sideman and songwriter,” Duhon recalls. “I mentioned I was looking for a producer for my next record and that I was looking for someone to make a braver songwriter record.

“He said, ‘Oh, you want Eric Masse,’ then pulled out his phone and gave me Eric’s number. It was an East Nashville miracle!”

Duhon already admired Masse’s work with artists like Rayland Baxter, Andrew Combs, Charlie Worsham and Miranda Lambert. He just hadn’t made all the connections. Once they got together, they cut False River in a little more than a week. “In the end, he helped us make a bolder record than we would have otherwise, and I’m proud of that,” Duhon says. “As Eric said on our first day in his studio, there are 100 ‘Nashville songwriter’ records getting made today. We could make one of those, or we could make a cool record, a new record. Eric was a real asset to the creation of this thing.”

Duhon brought in bassist Myles Weeks and drummer G Maxwell Zemanovic, the rhythm section that had played with him as hired guns on The Moorings but found such common ground with his music that they stuck around and hit the road with Duhon. “For the first time in my life, I made a record with a band I’d been touring with for three years, guys who helped inform these songs musically, and that was a special thing. The Wood Brothers’ Jano Rix joined the tight-knit studio group on keyboards, with Rayland Baxter, who was hanging out at the studio smoking cigarettes. “I guess he dug what he was hearing enough to oblige our request to try some background vocals," Duhon says. "People tell me I can sing alright, but Rayland Baxter’s voice is a goddamn instrument.”

Initially, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” sparked Duhon’s artistic will. One line especially: “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius.” For Duhon, it was a revelation. “It was a brand new idea, and it spoke to me so directly,” he says. “We’re all connected, and it’s all right in here if only I’m willing to figure out what it is I have to say. It still feels like I’m just getting started on that journey.”

Emerson’s innermost truth resonated most vividly with Duhon when he listened to old Delta blues and folk singers. Their simple music and hard-earned truths bore a weight greater than the sum of their parts. It was personal. It seemed to cost the artist something dear.

As for the guitar, Duhon started playing that in high school, needing a hobby when it became apparent his shoulder wouldn’t go along with his aspiration of being a lefty pitcher at a small college. “If it wasn’t going to be baseball in college, I’d need something to get the girls’ attention,” he says, only partly joking, “but my casual intent in picking it up did not anticipate what a passion writing songs would become for me. Now it’s all I think about. The songs haunt me for better or worse.” He released his first album in 2009, then two more, including The Moorings, the one GRAMMY voters placed in the company of Daft Punk, Alice in Chains, Queens of the Stone Age, Pistol Annies and Madeline Peyroux.

When Duhon combined the guitar with the quest Emerson had awakened inside him, he found his story and a way to tell it that eventually led to False River highlights like “Comin’ Around,” “Heart of a Man” and “Gotta Know.”

“I have always loved storytellers, and I’d like to continue to hone that piece of songwriting,” he says. “Emerson and Robert Frost did it with nature: to recognize the elements in nature that reflect some truth of the human condition. That stuff teaches me as much about paying attention as it does about writing. That sort of storytelling is what I yearn for, both in the discovering of stories and in the telling my own. That’s what I hope the touring and the traveling continue to teach me.”
Golden Promise
Golden Promise is a country band from Portland, Oregon that is heavy influenced by the legends of yesteryear.