As an upcoming singer-songwriter, Rod represents a new breed who are drawing more from Townes Van Zandt and Kris Kristofferson than from the previous generation of more reflective (and at times indulgent) singer-songwriters. He tells his stories from character perspective rather than from the worms-eye view of a tortured poet on the brink of suicide and/or self-inflicted angst. The result is themes that harken back to and echo Johnny Cash's early Sun recordings and Mickey Newbury's focus on characters and story. There are familiar enough melodies which sound newly born and song structure that leans on lyric rather than hook. And beneath it all is the room for great acoustic and electric instrumentation from bluegrass mandolins to big sounding Duane Eddy-like electric guitars.
How does a 22 year-old L.A. transplant from Louisiana find his way to such a rich musical heritage? It's in his family name as Rod would be the first to say. While other American kids were taking in the pleasures of affluent suburbs during the 90's, he was absorbing the Louisiana Bayou and his Cajun heritage and traditional southern manners from his father's family. His mother, a high school theater arts teacher, gave Rod a taste for Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and Jack Kerouac. From her he learned about dramtics, story and literature. He credits her for teaching him most specifically about symbolism,which he uses elequently in his songs. Like so many before him, he hit the highway after he read On The Road. He came to L.A. to pursue a career in acting but changed his mind three years ago on a Christmas visit to his family home. It was during the holidays that he gave his grandfather a life-changing gift. A Hank Williams disc. When he saw his grandfather's tears as he listened to the timeless music, Rod knew he wanted to write songs that could bring the same feeling to others. Ironically and perhaps not coincidentally, his parents gave him an acoustic guitar that same Christmas. As Rod himself said, 'that was the moment in the movie of my life when I knew what I was called to do.' He came back to L.A. and began to learn guitar and write songs. The songs flowed out of him with a passion he'd never known before. He played them for his friend, actor Chris Thomason (Harper's Island) who assured him he was on to something.
Since that time Rod has worked on refining his performing, writing and vocal skills and has been drawing from influences like Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Jamie Johnson and Justin Townes Earle. Over the last few years he has appeared at Hotel Cafe, The Mint and in L.A.'s Echo Park district.
As times change and mainstream country music continues to go through its ups and downs with its own chronic and bland pop-leaning identity struggle, Rod is finding a strong following in L.A. for real country music through the local Americana scene represented by venues like The Echo which each week hosts a fine country music barbque cleverly called, The Grand Ole Echo.
With the release of this new EP, My Family Name, Rod Melacon, this rootsy Louisiana-fevered singer-songwriter, has established himself as a promising name to watch. It is young artists like this who are the future of timeless American music and what is slowly becoming a resurgence of the early 70's singer-songwriter outlaw movement.
- Terry Roland, No Depression