For her 13th album, Coming Out Swingin’, Candye Kane swings, rocks, sings the blues and adds swamp pop and New Orleans rhythm-and-blues-inspired songs to her southern California-cooked gumbo.
Coming Out Swingin’ track “Darling Baby” would fit nicely into sets by south Louisiana swamp-pop bands. While the music for another of the album’s songs, “Au Revoir, Y’all,” is Louisiana-based, Kane wasn’t thinking about the state when she wrote the song’s French and English lyrics. She had France on her mind, a country where she frequently performs.
“I spend more time in France than I do anywhere else in the world,” Kane said. “I’ve played in every little village in France and every big city.”
Nevertheless, “Au Revoir, Y’all” may play well in New Orleans.
“I have fantasies about selling my house and moving to New Orleans,” Kane said from her home in Oceanside, a city in San Diego County. “It’s been one of my dreams forever because I love it so much there. But they say New Orleans has to really like you for you to be able to live there. People can love New Orleans but New Orleans doesn’t always love them back.”
The things Kane loves about Louisiana and the South in general include the region’s laid-back style of speech.
“After I started talking to you,” she said, “I noticed that I’m talking a little bit slower. Here in California, we’re all about being in a rush and talking real fast and getting everything done. You guys, the way you talk, it’s just relaxed and soothing, a real sweet way of talking. I love that. I’m going to have that in my head all day now and be mimicking the way you talk.”
Quite the contrary to relaxed Louisiana, Kane grew up in tough East Los Angeles. A white girl in a predominantly Mexican community, she wished that she was Mexican. Fortunately, Kane could sing songs from Louisiana, such as Cookie and the Cupcakes’ “Mathilda” and Little Bob & the Lollipops’ “I Got Loaded,” big favorites in East L.A.
“That was my saving grace in school, that I could sing those songs,” she remembered. “People were like, ‘Hey, singer! Come here and sing us a song.’ It helped me to not get beaten up. I was beaten up a lot until I learned those songs.”
Kane later made her way into the burgeoning Los Angeles music scene that included the Blasters, Los Lobos, Fear and X. Her friends included Dave Alvin of the Blasters and country artists Marty Stuart and Dwight Yoakam. She got a deal with Epic Records as a country singer in 1986.
Kane’s introduction to the blues came in the ’80s through Thomas Yearsley, her husband at the time and a member of blues-punk-rock band the Paladins. Kane and Yearsley have worked together since, including his co-production and co-engineering work for Coming Out Swingin’.
“I always think of myself as more of a songwriter than singer,” she said. “I know a lot of different styles but there are a lot of better singers out there. But I’m a good performer, I can make people laugh and I make people feel hopeful. I’m lucky to have that job.”
Coming Out Swingin’ is the third album featuring Kane’s right-hand woman, guitarist and songwriter Laura Chavez.
“Laura is just an amazing talent,” she said. “You can’t tell from the record how gifted she is. Seeing her perform is like seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan or T-Bone Walker.”
Kane, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008, hasn’t let illness stop her from touring and making new music.
“Music keeps me alive,” she said. “I’m blessed and lucky to make music at all. I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to slow down either. I’m going to keep working until I drop dead. That’s the way it is and, as I say often, it’s not going to be anytime soon.”