Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dax Riggs performing What a Wonderful World

I've long been a fan of Dax Riggs, a fellow South Louisiana native.  Like the proverbial prodigal son, he's returned and now calls Lafayette, LA his home.  I've had the good fortune to see Dax live on many occasions, from my first show of his when he was fronting Acid Bath (and opening for Marilyn Manson), to his reincarnation in Deadboy and the Elephant Men, to several of his solo appearances from Austin, TX to my home in Lafayette, LA.

It's always a great show, and Dax shows his love for his fans at every show.  If you get a chance to see him live, take it.  You won't be sorry.  In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that you'll become a fan instantly.

But don't take my word for it, watch this performance I captured of him wailing "What a Wonderful World"  If you don't hear the pain and passion in his voice, your soul must have been lost a long time ago.

His style has been called a lot of things, though I personally like Henry Rollins' take:
For me, Dax is re-defining Blues music. Even though he plays his songs through the guitar-bass-drums model for the most part, he is the self-contained unit. He is, as they say, the whole package and the real deal. Musicians like Dax come along very seldom. When I listen to Dax's work, it makes me think of another great stand-alone, the late great Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, who so clearly demarcated his territory...
With the next incarnation of Dax, The Agents of Oblivion, he and his bandmates leave genre specificity behind and this is where, at least for me, it all gets very interesting and really great. You can hear an evolution in the writing and arrangements; there's a Bowie element that can be detected here and there. Again, Dax's vocals and lyrics dominate the album. There are no happy songs here. It's all heavy. Death, sex, drugs and darkness permeate the lyrics, the songs are hard rocking but there's definitely something more going on. It's not everybody's thing but it sure is mine. This album is one of my favorite suggestions to people when they ask for the record of a blink-and-you-missed-them band.
Next was Deadboy and the Elephantmen. Their first album, If This Is Hell, I Am Lucky has been re-released on Fat Possum under Dax's name. It is different than Acid Bath and the Agents recordings. Way more out there, more ambitious, another one of those records that went away for awhile but is now back in print and another one of those that makes you wonder how it could have gotten by you. You can hear Dax stretching himself and taking his work forward. It almost makes the Acid Bath and Agents recordings sound slightly derivative.
Dax's next release, Deadboy, and the Elephantmen's We Are Night Sky, are when I finally caught up with Dax and all of these great records. Heidi, a woman who has been working at my office and running my life for well over a decade, came into the building years ago with this album and told me to stop what I was doing and put it on. She had heard it the night before and said she was riveted for its entirety. I put the album on and had the same reaction. Where Hell is a full band, We Are is stripped down to a twosome of Dax and Tessie Brunet and it succeeds in a very big way. This is a gem of an album. While everything that came before did well with volume and density, this album triumphs in its minimalism and strong songs. It's too bad that the band never released this on LP.
After Night Sky was released, Dax went solo with We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love in 2007. This and Dinosaur Jr.'s Beyond were my two favorite albums that year. Blood and 2010's Say Goodnight To The World still find Dax in a dark, heavy and very compelling place. Great songs, great songwriter and singer.
Of course, I've got a YouTube channel for all my favorites from his collection, and I also did one up on Vimeo (you should watch BOTH) but you should check out his site and (obviously) buy all of his albums at once! But don't worry, I'm making it easy for you, just click on any of the links below ;)