Local musicians will go on a short tour in a group of shows dubbed, "Sing It! The David Egan Songbook.”
The performances are an all-star tribute to David Egan, the late Lafayette songwriter, singer and pianist. The “Sing It!” mini-tour will stage two shows in Lafayette on Thursday, March 23 and Friday, March 24; a third show in New Orleans on Saturday, March 25; and a final performance in Bossier City on Sunday, March 26.
The city of Lafayette has also proclaimed March 20, Egan’s birthday, as David Egan Day.
The “Sing It!” shows are taking place a year after Egan’s death. He died from lung cancer complications on March 18, two days before his 62nd birthday.
Grammy winners and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees recorded Egan’s songs. That starry list includes Mavis Staples, Percy Sledge, Etta James, Joe Cocker, John Mayall, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Solomon Burke and Marcia Ball. Closer to home, Louisiana stars Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit and Johnny Adams recorded Egan compositions.
For the “Sing It!” tour, Ball, C.C. Adcock, Roddie Romero, David Torkanowsky, Kristin Diable, Buddy Flett, Kevin Gordon, Steve Riley and Michael Juan Nunez will play all four dates. Special guests include Sonny Landreth (in Lafayette), Irma Thomas and Papa Mali (New Orleans) and A-Train (Bossier City). More guests will be announced.
Adcock and Egan’s widow, Rhonda, as well as the tour’s co-producer, Todd Mouton, developed the all-star, multi-city “Sing It!” concept.
“It’s quite a cross section of artists,” Mouton said. “Some of them don’t know each other or each other’s work. But they’ve all come together from across the musical universe. The tribute is about David and the amazing songs he left behind. The world needs to continue hearing his songs.”
Mouton, Adcock and others rank Egan among the top songwriters Louisiana ever produced.
“David created both elegant and rowdy songs in so many soulful roots styles,” Mouton said. “Blues, rhythm-and-blues, zydeco and swamp-pop tunes. But my favorites are songs like ‘Fading Footsteps,’ ‘Battle of the Bands,’ ‘French Café’ and ‘Dreamer.’ They defy classification.”
Egan and the “Sing It!” tour’s musical director, Adcock, are featured in Mouton’s book, “Way Down in Louisiana: Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, And Swamp Pop Music.” The book contains a chapter about Lil’ Band O’ Gold, the Lafayette-based super group that included Egan and Adcock.
In addition to performing with Lil’ Band O’ Gold throughout the world, Egan and Adcock wrote songs together.
“David was a master at keeping it simple, not wasting a syllable or a note,” Adcock said. “It was all as it should be.”
Egan and another of the tribute tour’s performers, Flett, grew up together in Shreveport. Their families attended the same church. Their mothers were friends who sang in the choir together.
When they were youngsters, Egan and Flett loved the same soulful musical styles.
“We grew up singing,” Flett said.
Following their membership in the popular Shreveport band, A-Train, Flett and Egan moved to Nashville to be songwriters. Their collaborations include “First You Cry,” recorded by soul star and longtime Baton Rouge resident Percy Sledge; “Good to Ya, Baby,” recorded by Houma’s Cajun blues artist Tab Benoit; and “Even Now,” the opening track on the final studio album by one of New Orleans’ great vocalists, Johnny Adams.
Flett noted Egan’s knack for words and the diligence he applied to shaping lyrics.
“He was literary,” Flett said. “And it was rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. He’d get a real cool idea and just wear it out. Getting it perfect.”
“A few years ago,” Egan told The Advocate in 2004, “I decided to write songs like I had nothing to lose, as opposed to writing songs that I hoped Eric Clapton or B.B. King would cover. So, my songs started being more about my real life. I have a feeling that, ironically, these will be the songs that somebody huge will end up covering.”
Torkanowsky, the New Orleans pianist who’ll perform for all four tribute shows, said Egan’s songs have that everyman quality about them.
“There are a few special songwriters who have that conversational, uniquely Southern perspective,” Torkanowsky said. “David’s songs are never super complicated. They’re always simple and infectious.”
Besides being an exceptional songwriter and musician, Egan’s bandmates and writing partners say he was a great friend.
“Don’t get no better,” Flett said. “Ask anybody about that. Lord, that’s a good man there. Did you hear about when he got up to heaven? His daddy picked him up in a Cadillac. They went straight to a diner. They had double-cheeseburgers, red beans and rice and chocolate pie. I just know that that’s what happened when he got up to heaven.”
'SING IT! THE DAVID EGAN SONGBOOK' Mini-tour
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and 8 p.m. Friday, March 24
WHERE: Vermilionville Performance Center, 300 Fisher Road
In New Orleans
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25
WHERE: Tipitina’s, 501 Napoleon Ave.
In Bossier City
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, March 26
WHERE: Margaritaville Resort Casino, 777 Margaritaville Way
All shows are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. Tickets are available at davidegansongs.com.