Across the Basin bridge, Kevin Sekhani is a fixture in the Lafayette music scene. Recently, you could catch him playing hillbilly gospel in the short-lived, but highly regarded The Mercy Brothers.
Nowadays, Sekhani is going for the jugular. After The Mercy Brothers flamed out, he began writing songs of a more introspective nature for his solo career.
“I started putting more personal stuff together, about my upbringing in south Louisiana,” he said. “It didn’t necessarily feel like a band sentiment.”
Sekhani will perform Wednesday at The Varsity. The Lafayette folk-rock band The Rayo Brothers will open.
Never one to sit still, Sekhani got to work last year on a new solo album, the country and Cajun music-based “Day Ain’t Done.” The New Orleans-based Louisiana Red Hot Records released it in June.
The album features songs about growing up in Lafayette. There’s the Steve Earle-like, “Sumner Street,” which chronicles days in the life of Sekhani’s youth. Sekhani’s personal connection to the region’s oilfield workers inspired another song, “Oilfield Tan.”
“My grandfather and my uncles, my brother-in-law and cousins, they all worked in the oil fields, onshore and offshore,” he said. “They needed acknowledgement for the hard work they put in.”
“Oilfield Tan” is catching on at radio stations. The song “spans Texas and Louisiana, because there are so many oil workers in the area,” Sekhani said. “They’re responding really well to it.”
Texans aren’t the only ones taking a liking to “Day Ain’t Done.” The Americana music market has been especially responsive to the album.
“I value the Americana community’s opinions,” Sekhani said. “I love so many records in that genre. To be placed in that genre and have that kind of acceptance is a humbling thing.”
The new record and his time with The Mercy Brothers follow Sekhani’s career as an Austin musician. In 1990, he moved to the Texas capital after seeing Alejandro Escovedo perform at the now-shuttered Grant Street Dance Hall. Escovedo’s band suggested Sekhani check out Austin, and the young songwriter took the band’s advice.
Living, breathing and writing music in Austin was unlike anything Sekhani experienced.
“As soon as we got to Austin, we were working nonstop,” he said. “I consider Austin my musical education. I learned how to do a lot of things because of my time there.”
By 2010, more gigs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans inspired Sekhani to move back to Lafayette. Soon thereafter, he formed The Mercy Brothers with Mark Meaux, a guitarist-musician known for rocking with The Bluerunners.
“It fell into our laps,” Sekhani said. “The next thing you know we hit the ground running. We wanted to have the energy of a tent revival. We got pretty close to that.”
Sekhani won’t say The Mercy Brothers is over, but it is on hiatus for now.
“It was such a lightning-in-a-bottle-type situation. It came together fast and organic and just kind of ran its course.”