Rod Melancon is a star! His musical reverence is so compelling and heart felt that you finally have that sigh of relief that there is greatness on the horizon. If you’ve tired from Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp, including “Nebraska”, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Rain on the Scarecrow”.. all epic bodies of work, you can put their albums in their covers and stow them away. Melancon sings about the disenfranchised whose economic gap from rich to poor continues to grow wider; and forget about the middle class! He writes songs about characters that are on society’s margins and working in the shadows of life and death. When so many great American song writers lay lyrics of metaphoric symbolism he sings about his life growing up in Southern Louisiana. His tales are about his life experiences and people he knows. One thing for sure and that is there’s nothing maudlin in his song writing!
Melancon transplanted to Los Angeles to pursue acting after reading a biography of James Dean. His mother was a theatre teacher back home and she gave him a spiritual diet of Tennessee Williams’ plays. As his confidence in acting grew, he like so many moved west to Hollywood thinking he would become a movie star. He saw himself as a cross between Paul Newman from the film “Cool Hand Luke” and James Dean’s “Rebel Without A Cause”. The juxtaposition of the “anti-hero-hero” is what made Melencon realize that music would be a better fit to tell his tales of mythological proportions about the “Deep South”.
Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke” James Dean
Not since John Fogerty has any song writer delved into the history of this influential part of American folklore with such brilliance. “Pa” Melancon was a journeyman who worked in the oil fields of Louisiana. As an authentic Cajun his life experiences served as a template for the young Rod. He was a devoted father and told stories of living in a rural community and the cohorts he hung with.”Grand Pa” Melancon even had a dramatic influence on Rod. He would tell the tale of drinking to excess with Hank Williams in Shreveport, LA.. All these vignettes is what makes Melancon so credible. At dinnertime there would be an epicurean diet of frog’s legs and fried alligator. Rod had grown up with the desire to ride motorcycles, but his uncle, whom he was named after was killed in a gruesome accident but to this day he sees himself as an outlaw motor biker akin to the great Marlon Brando’s character Johnny Strabler from the film “The Wild One”.
Marlon Brando……. Hank Williams Sr. Incarcerated
His second album, “Parish Lines” speaks of people that Rod Melancon knew as if some were the angels of death spreading their wings in his past. The characters he authenticates include those commonly referred to as “white trash”, rearranged alcoholics and women who he had lusted for. However, the song that really shows Rod’s ability to connect is “Different Man”. It’s the story of a young man who has returned injured from the Gulf War and left for nothing by the government. In an almost Lynrd Skynrd archetype song, Melancon’s words proves that he is a great patriot but questions America’s treatment to its veterans.
Parish Lines was very well reviewed and it allowed Melancan to feel accustomed to the spotlight and he is currently in the studio working on a new project. Many of the music pundits have hung their hat by describing his music as “Americana”; but I don’t feel that tells the whole story. If rock and roll is judged as “Americana” then let it be so.. Defining moments in music descriptions is often short sided and it really doesn’t take into account the fluidity of public perception. Melancon has recruited guitarist, Brian Whelan to produce his third effort. Brian in his own right is an amazing talent. He’s played guitar for some of the great artists, including Dwight Yoakam. He can pivot from Johnny Cash to Social Distortion to Gene Vincent in mere nano seconds. We at Rock Bands of L.A.com have utter belief that Rod Melancon is going to fulfill his passions for music and film. You can only imagine what success he’ll have when he tours Great Britain and Europe….
Johnny Cash..Mug Shot… Social Distortion….. Gene Vincent