Pat Ricks works as a barber, owner and operator of a walk-in on Union Street — a shop so tiny customers huddle together near the entrance as they wait to have their hair trimmed.
Ricks stands behind a barber chair, the focus of the room, surrounded by mirrors. His movements are surprisingly nimble for such an imposing figure, and he keeps the jokes flowing.
And since it’s a New Orleans barbershop, the most serious topic of discussion is the Saints.
“I worked the Dome all through high school,” Ricks says as he clicks on an electric razor. The trimmer roars, forcing him to shout over it. “Been a Saints fan as long as I can remember. Even when we were bad, I still watched every game that I could. I’ve had season tickets during some of the worst times to be a Saints fan.”
He pauses as one of the men waiting complains loudly about all the money he’s lost betting on the Saints. Ricks laughs and shrugs.
“I’m a diehard. My friends, everyone that knows me, will tell you.”
Ricks’ hope is to share that diehard fandom with the Who Dat Nation. Because though he works through the day as a barber, he’s also the singer with a group called The Melatauns, who recently released a song they hope will function as a new fight anthem for the Saints.
The title says it all: “Take ’Em to the Woodshed.”
“I don’t know if you noticed around here after we lost to Cleveland, but everything was humdrum looking because everybody was walking around like they lost their dog,” Ricks said. “That’s part of it because I plan on going to the woodshed every time we play.”
The song is almost an order, in a swamp pop, bluesy fashion, a demand for the Saints to take the opposing team and their fans to “the woodshed,” where they will, as the song so eloquently puts it, “whoop their butts until they’re black and gold.”
It’s an idea any Saints fan can get behind.
Ricks started the band in 2009 with Robert Snow, his best friend from Chalmette High School. Snow is a working musician in the city, playing with such bands as King James and the Special Men and the New Orleans Cottonmouth Kings.
Snow writes most of the music, while Ricks concentrates on lyrics.
“We’re very comfortable with each other,” Snow said. “We argue about stuff like anybody, but for me that’s part of the creative process.”
Snow was the one who first came up with the woodshed idea, and Ricks ran with it.
“I kind of came up with the woodshed idea in 2009,” Ricks said, “from listening to Bobby Hebert that did the after game show and heard him talk about ‘they got taken to the woodshed or they took them to the woodshed.’ And I was like, ‘Hey, man, that might be a good idea for a song.’ ”
For the sake of fandom and their love of music, The Melatauns, a band that boasted 21 musicians on its first album, “Bards of Melatonia,” play a monthly gig at The Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street.
You can be sure that “Take ’Em to the Woodshed” will be in heavy rotation throughout football season. To Ricks and Snow, the Saints are something everyone can get behind.
“Patience. Long-suffering,” Snow said, describing what being a Saints fan is like. “It’s the adage for love. Love is patience. Love is kind. Love is long-suffering. But it brings everybody together here. The Saints are unifying. Through all the distractions of life, the violence around the world, it’s a safety net that brings everybody together.”
“People here are the Saints, man. Win, lose, or draw.”