Okra and Ecclesiastes ~ Grant talks about getting Gurfed
Grant Peeples‘ Okra and Ecclesiastes (Gatorbone Records) proves you don’t have to come from Texas to be a great singer/songwriter. Florida’s answer to Ray Wylie Hubbard, Terry Allen and Butch Hancock did go to Texas however to hook up with the multi-talented Gurf Morlix who produced, engineered and played on Okra. Grant delivers twelve powerful original tunes including the dark moody “Powerlines” complete with eerie electric shocks, buzzes, crackles and sparks. “Empty Cup”, co-written with Gurf, is an aching plea that could have been written by Lucinda Williams. It wasn’t but I wouldn’t be surprised if she does cover it someday.
Pawnshops (Grant’s second album) don’t thrive in good times and two years later the times are still tough and Grant tells us:
“My people come from the dirt, full choke and steel guitar
Cigarettes and whiskey, and a dog chained in their yard
My people come from the dirt, white bread and kerosene
Catfish and flatbeds, sweat stains and retreads, okra and Ecclesiastes”
Grant talks, sings and growls and through the dozen tracks dealing with the hard times, hard love and hard living of everyman and woman including a trip down death row on “Lethal Injection Blues”. Like Tom Russell and Guy Clark as well as the previously mentioned Texas trio, Grant’s a talented storyteller with a wise and weary, well worn voice that’s more than a little rough around the edges.
If you want a Grant Peeples record: Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him which record you want. Give him an address to send it to, and he’ll mail it to you. He’ll trust you, whoever you are, to pay him after you receive it. He’ll include an envelope with his address on it. After you get the CD put cash or check in the envelope. Put it in the mail. Total cost is $15.00. Including postage.
Grant was kind enough to answer a few questions about Okra and Ecclesiastes, working with Gurf and selling music.
HB-How did you hook up with Gurf Morlix who engineered, produced and played on Okra and Ecclesiastes?
GP-I’m huge fan of what Gurf’s done. Lucinda, Slade, Ray Wiley, Mary Gauthier. His records are always so texturally rich and yet unaffected. And there are always these really authentic drums sounds. I wrote to him when I was struggling in the studio with my first record. I thought ‘what the hell?’ I’m gonna ask this guy how he gets those great drum sounds. He wrote back and said: “You need to start with the a really good drummer.” That’s classic Gurf. We’d like to think great sounds come from great knob turning. But he set me straight. You start with great performances.
HB-Speaking of okra: fried, stewed or pickled?
GP-Fried, pickled, or just eat it right of the bush.
HB-What is this fringe group “The Peeples Republik” that helped finance the album?
GP-On some level I guess you could call them fans. But there’s about eighty of them from around the world that ponied up $125 each when it came time to make the record. They got a special T-Shirt and ten copies of the CD. I couldn’t have done it without them. Or my father, who came through with a big check to help finish the thing off.
HB-I’ve never heard of anyone else selling their music on the honor system. I first heard about it with Pawnshop. Does it reallywork?
GP-If somebody wants a CD, they just write and tell me their address and I mail it to them with an return envelope for them to put money in. Over 90 percent of people pay. I don’t chase the money if they don’t. CD Baby takes $4.00 for $15.00 record. That’s over 25 percent. Amazon takes about 60 percent. So if 10 percent of the people I send records to don’t pay me….I’m coming out way ahead.
HB-I read your bio on your website. It sounds like a long strange journey: a singer/songwriter who didn’t write any songs for ten years who then turns 50 and puts out three albums in three years! That’s the stuff legends are made of!
GP-I moved to this little island in Nicaragua in 1995, and for ten years I didn’t write anything. But something was going on creatively, still It was like being in the Wilderness for 40 days and nights, and then coming back and knowing and seeing and understanding things that you hadn’t before. The three records—-I see this now now—-are actually a trilogy. John Fulbright is a fully developed artist at age 22. It just took me a little longer. More water had to run under the bridge, I guess. But I spoke with Sam Baker last week and he told me he was 47 before he really started. Mary Gautheir was in her 40s, too. So I guess it can happen.
HB-What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever played?
GP-I played for the Hell’s Angels in Winston-Salem two years ago. I got my photo taken with Dwight Sluder, the East Coast President. I’ve got my Mao hat on and he’s got swastikas tattooed on both arms. We’re both smiling. Two weeks later Dwight was assassinated. All that was sorta weird.
HB-Congratulations on the disc and good luck with the tour!