Before his recent status as a rising solo star on the Americana music scene, Lafayette’s Kevin Sekhani toiled in the collective realm of bands. He worked as a member of various groups for nearly 30 years, 20 of them in Austin, Texas.
“I was in loads of bands in Austin and before I moved to Austin,” Sekhani said recently. “It always seemed like it was a band-type thing.”
But following his return to Lafayette in 2010 and his membership in the city’s short-lived but highly regarded hillbilly-gospel group The Mercy Brothers, Sekhani’s songwriting shifted to more personal subjects he deemed unfit for a band context.
Those introspective songs are featured on his solo album, “Day Ain’t Done,” which the New Orleans-based Louisiana Red Hot Records released in June. Sekhani will be performing songs from the album Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Music Factory and Saturday night at Carrollton Station.
“Day Ain’t Done” includes the Steve Earle-like “Sumner Street,” a song about growing up on particular streets in Lafayette.
Working-class anthem “Oilfield Tan” is another Sekhani song that hits close to home.
“My grandfather and my uncles, my brother-in-law and cousins, all worked in the oil fields, onshore and offshore,” he said. “I felt they needed acknowledgement for the hard work they put in.”
“Oilfield Tan” is finding audiences in Texas and Louisiana.
“It’s that whole region, because there are so many oil workers in the area,” Sekhani said. “They’re responding really well to it.”
People in west Texas are hearing “Oilfield Tan,” too.
“They thought it was a nice, hard-working tune,” Sekhani said. “It’s great if folks who do other kinds of work adopt it.”
The Americana music market forms another audience for “Day Ain’t Done” and the album’s hybrid of country, rock, folk and Cajun music.
“I value the Americana community’s opinions,” Sekhani said. “I love so many records in that genre. To be in that genre and have that kind of acceptance is a humbling thing.”
Sekhani’s solo career and The Mercy Brothers followed his many years as an Austin musician. In 1990, an invitation to visit the city from Alejandro Escovedo’s band brought him to the Texas capital.
“It was unlike any music town I had ever experienced,” he said. “As soon as we got there, we were working nonstop. That’s what I consider my musical education.”
By 2010, a growing number of gigs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans convinced Sekhani to move back home to Lafayette. He formed The Mercy Brothers, featuring Mark Breaux, of The Bluerunners, soon thereafter.
The Mercy Brothers, Sekhani said, “just kind of fell into our laps. The next thing you know, we hit the ground running. We wanted to have the energy of a tent revival. We got close to that.”
Sekhani won’t say if The Mercy Brothers is over, but the band is on hiatus for now.
“It was such a lightning-in-a-bottle-type situation,” he said.
Jumping from one train to another, Sekhani’s solo career potentially can take him further than any of his previous projects, even the mighty Mercy Brothers.