John Doe has packed enough adventure into his 63 years to fill the lives of three people. Not only is he a founding member of X, arguably one of the last great American punk bands around, but he’s also pulled together a solid solo career.
His solo show will come to the Red Dragon Listening Room. The performance is scheduled for Saturday, starting at 8 p.m. with a set from The Bedlamville Triflers. Tickets are $30 and up.
As if touring with X wasn’t enough, the Illinois native somehow found time to release the solo album “The Westerner.” The collection is dedicated to Doe’s friend, the late Michael Blake, who wrote “Dances With Wolves.”
“I used (Michael) as a character in some of the songs. I wrote songs about his life,” Doe said. “I had a focal point for what the record was about. He lived outside of Tucson, Arizona, and my buddy Howe Gelb, from Giant Sand, worked in this studio, which has a sound that I love that comes out of there.
"If it wasn’t for Giant Sand, there wouldn’t be Calexico, and Neko Case wouldn’t sound the way she does, at least on those earlier records. And I love that.”
While the future of any new X recordings continues to be an open-ended situation, Doe has been doing his own shows in between X’s 40th anniversary tour, and he’s thinking he may release recordings from some of his live dates.
He said X drummer DJ Bonebrake "is a modern miracle. And he’s been on tour with me for ‘The Westerner’ — him, Jesse Dayton, Cindy Wasserman, who I’ve sung with quite a bit.
“It’s been a good thing. I do know that we’re going to put out some live stuff. We did a couple of tours with Pearl Jam, and they have this awesome recording studio, so they just recorded our sets too. So we’re just going to pick and choose.”
As of last year, you could add published author Doe's resume with the release of his book “Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk.”
Written with former publisher and record label A&R man Tom DeSavia, the book is a compilation of oral histories that give the perspective on the scene during its heyday. Last year found Doe juggling a tour with X, doing readings of the book and also promoting “The Westerner."
Having been “encouraged, had my arm twisted, harangued and hounded” by DeSavia and Doe’s companion Krissy, he finally decided to take a crack at writing a book, albeit one with an unusual twist.
“I didn’t want to write a book because it sounded like it was way too much work and discipline. Then I had a spark of inspiration and thought that I could get other people to do it,” Doe said. “We got the book deal on that chapter ‘Go West,’ where I’m talking about leaving Baltimore and going to the West Coast and why I wanted to go. That was my topic. Everybody’s chapter had a topic. So we got the deal on the basis of that chapter and then all of a sudden it was real.”
Doe’s contributions amounted to eight chapters, which touched on his leaving Baltimore to find a new life in Los Angeles, the role of automobiles and the freedom they give you and the definition of punk.
Coming from the perspective of a fan, DeSavia came up with a pair of contributions that address the debauchery that pulled him in and the clash of pop art and fashion that gave the scene its distinctive aesthetic. Other contributors include Doe’s former paramour and creative partner in X, Exene Cervenka, music journalist Chris Morris and a few members of the Go-Go's. Doe wound up happy with the end result.
“It’s pretty gratifying that everyone found their own voice,” he said. “It’s gratifying that people wanted to participate, tell their story and have a little spotlight shone on it.”
John Doe/The Bedlamville Triflers
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Red Dragon Listening Room, 2401 Florida St., Baton Rouge
COST: $30, $40 VIP