West Coast Ticket: Belle Chasse band Adam’s Attic plays Seafood FestMay 25th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
They didn’t have a guitarist, no one owned drums, the bassist never touched a string instrument, and not one among them had seen sheet music or performed in public, and they were starting a band, who sang before the crowd at the Plaquemines’ Seafood Festival, a home town crowd for Adam’s Attic.
“We recorded the album, it was an outlet,” said Adam’s Attic frontman Joe Henry.
Henry had been through a bad break-up, spending a lot of time on that line of thought. Until his mother came home from a garage sale with an acoustic guitar for him to vent on.
His brother Derek Henry took up a keyboard with a bass on it, and their mutual friend Scott Boaz was ordered to go purchase a set of drums. Scott had been foolish enough to slow down and question the motivation, saying that he didn’t play the drums. Didn’t matter said Joe Henry.
“We’re starting a band.”
That was the frugal beginning to Adam’s Attic. A Belle Chasse band founded, filler of the rooms at House of Blues New Orleans, and newly grounded west coast music fixture. The band that built up once, got knocked down by Katrina. So they regrouped in Alexandria, only to be chased away by Hurricane Rita. They took that Red Cross gas card and a few thousand dollars in FEMA money and rode the road to Miami. They were in town in time to record an album in a studio with a grammy-award winning producer, whose studio was immediately decimated by yet one more hurricane, taking the album with it.
And what they do? Take the path of destruction as a sign? Nay-nay. They take the instruments and head west. Horace Greely or John B. L. Soule would like this band for tenacity alone. “Go west young men and grow with the country.”
Now in California’s music scene, Derek is playing solid bass, starting from a borrowed Fender and working his way through calluses and sweat to earn his own legitimate bass guitar.
The band works with guitarist Frank DeSalvo, whose developing serious hooks outside the three chords they all got started on, helping the music become more than a backdrop for vocals, along with Keith Frey on rhythm guitar. Joe Henry has dropped the mild mannered vibe, sacrificing his guitar and keyboarding on the alter of front man antics, being left open to the stage and the microphone has made him more leader.
The spotlight Katrina knocked
They are stronger now, that’s for sure. The New Orleans music scene doesn’t allow for weakness (hurricanes even less).
When the House of Blues needed to fill rooms, Attic did it. And when they did, they started opening for serious shows, in the big room. Last show they played in New Orleans, just two days before Katrina came and knocked out the whole scene, Adam’s Attic was opening for Lifehouse at House of Blues.
“To this point, it’s still one of my favorite shows,” said Joe Henry. “The majority of the crowd were people we never played for. It was frightening. But it feels good when the music touches them so they actually want to pull out their wallets.”
After that, The House of Blues shutdown for a year. With all the damage from Katrina the band had almost no access to food or clothes.
“All we could think about,” Joe Henry said, “was coming back for our gear.”
If they hadn’t phoned a friend in law enforcement, who snuck them into town, they wouldn’t have even been able to recover all those instruments. The friend brought them in and told them, “You’ve got two hours.”
The band got their gear and headed off. The rest, as they say…
After being uprooted, uplifted, and viewing west coast sky for a few years, Adam’s Attic made their way back to Gulf Coast sunsets, playing the Plaquemines Seafood Festival. Holding the Saturday night 8 p.m. slot, the local band, playing the festival in Belle Chasse, before and for those who grew up with them—the people who remember the break up that got the guitar, that got the first album, that sparked the idea that music could be more than just life, it could be a living.