Catching Up With Kevin Welch
Father/son song swap at the Cactus Cafe on Saturday
By Jim Caligiuri, 12:20PM, Wed. Nov. 6, 2013
These days, Butch Hancock performs with his son Rory, while Lucas Hubbard plays guitar for Ray Wylie. Let’s not forget what readers of the Chronicle have discovered: Jon Dee Graham’s son William has become a force of nature as a musician and a writer. Kevin and Dustin Welch have their own special thing going on.
They’ll be performing as a duo at the Cactus Cafe on Saturday, swapping songs while backed with by a rhythm section. Since dad, Kevin Welch – a long revered songwriter – hasn’t had an album out since 2010’s A Patch of Blue Sky, it seemed like a good time to see what he’s up to.
“Songs have been coming slow,” he explains. “They’re coming, but they aren’t adding up to a record for me yet. I’m not sure why. But I am feeling some pressure – from myself – to get a record together.
“Some people, they sit down and write a record. I’m trying to avoid doing that.”
Songwriting workshops held at his home in Wimberley are a relatively new, but hugely successful venture for Welch. Are those affecting his own songs?
“It’s probably a bit of a distraction,” he admits. “But it’s only one of many distractions. I hit the road really hard. That’s not to complain, but it seems like there’s a lot going on. The workshops have been really interesting for me because a songwriter does it mainly by feel.
“You’re not really thinking about the process itself. You don’t think through why a passage is working or it’s not. You just know through intuition that it is or isn’t.
“When we start talking about songwriting, that’s when you realize how intuitive it really is. To explain that to somebody, in a workshop, you have to go through the process and explain why some things work and why they don’t. It’s really interesting.
“Now, when I’m working on my own songs, I have that voice in the back of my head maybe more than I used to. I was brought up in the business where we were around songwriting all the time and just by osmosis we were being taught all the time.
“So I don’t think [it’s the workshops holding up the process], but I’d love to find something to blame it on.”
I’ve known Kevin Welch for more than 20 years. We first met after the release of his self-titled Warner Bros. debut in 1990, a country-rock LP that predated the alt-country/Americana craze. That album closes with the lullaby “A Letter to Dustin.” Back then, father and son sharing a stage together was unthinkable.
“That was a fantasy,” he agrees. “This kind of dreamy idea, but nothing that I was counting on at all and it’s a beautiful surprise. Dustin’s completely his own artist. Some of his songs I have to really practice to be able to play, but it sounds really good together.
“That’s probably what the next record is going to be. Dustin and I will try to enlist some help from Savannah [Kevin’s daughter/member of the Trishas] and some of our old friends. That’s what we’re talking about.
“When we’re going to get around to doing it, I don’t know. The kid has a ton of songs. He’s got some really great stuff.”