Louie Fontaine’s album, The Sun Ain’t Black, is the culmination of three decades of experience playing and recording a wide variety of music. The Sun Ain’t Black is primarily an Americana record with blues, country and even art rock finding their way onto the disc. Shades of the Stones, Tom Petty, Nick Cave and Tom Waits peek in and out of this collection of gems. The songs are gems but the live show is an off the hook rock concert with an energy that can only be seen to be believe. if Queens of the Stone Age were an Americana band with David Bowie as the frontman, you’d have Louie Fontaine & The Starlight Searchers.
The Danish-born Fontaine, who lived in New Orleans from 2000-2002, returned to Louisiana in 2015. He was determined to record in Louisiana ever since his close friend Rockie Charles passed away in 2010. Louie felt the urgency to make a musical statement so he booked time at the Dockside studios and cut basic tracks. With co-producer & engineer Tony Daigle, Fontaine knew he was closing in on his goal as the album took shape. “The songs were fresh,” says Fontaine, who penned all the songs excepting the one Charles penned for him, “That’s Rocking.”
Fontaine then brought his band, The Starlight Searchers over from Europe to record with him. The recording line-up included Louie on guitar, baritone guitar and bass, Rick Heart on the Hammond organ, steel guitar and piano, lead guitarist Egon Kronberg and bassist Martin Burke. Singing back-up were Charlene Howard, Teka Briscoe and Sharon Colette. Russell Batiste (Funky Meters) then completed the line-up by joining the band as the touring drummer.
The centerpiece of the album consists of dramatic songs in the great Fontaine theatrical tradition. The title track, “the Hambiltons” and “The Pill,” were both made into videos. “The Pill” is a concept song with an intricate, Bowie-like vocal arrangement, and “The Hambiltons” an elaborate murder ballad. “One of the first records I made back in the ’90s was a rock musical called Murder Before Justice,” Fontaine explains. “So there was always a theatrical element. Performing live I like to change costumes, I like to be a little more than just a man with a guitar.”
Why New Orleans?
“People understand my kind of music and they understand me over here better,” he explains. “I can do a lot more here. I can take greater chances here. The door is open for me to do a lot of things. I may have been born in Denmark, but I dream in English now.”