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CoCo Robicheaux



Coco Robicheaux
Coco’s Story, by John Sinclair 1994

Coco Robicheaux was born Curtis Arceneaux on October 25, 1947, as the artist puts it, “on the side of the road somewhere in California, outside this little town called Merced. This was kind of different because all my cousins were born on the kitchen table at my grandma’s house in Ascension Parish – my relatives have worked the same land there for generations.”

“My dad was in the Air Force, he traveled all over, but when I was born my parents were on vacation in California. My mother always said, ‘When you were born, three wise men came’. Turned out that they were Mennonites with long beards who lived in these trailer homes outside of Merced.”

“I played my first professional gig in Gonzales, LA, in Ascension Parish, at a sock hop at the high school gym in 1959. It was right before Christmas, and my cousins didn’t have any shoes, so one of them wore my grandmother’s shoes to the gig. It was $3 for the gig, $1 for each of us and all the cokes we could drink.”

“I made my first record for PeeWee Maddox on the J&B Label out of Long Beach, MS. This was in the early to mid 60’s and the record was “I Lost My Girl” between “I’m No Good”. Made another record at Cosimo’s Studio called “The Frog” but a singer named Bobby Reno came in and put his voice over our tracks and had a little local hit with my song. We had a whole album’s worth of stuff recorded at Cosimo’s that disappeared somehow.”

“I moved into New Orleans when I was 17 and started playing guitar soon after that. I met a dude who told me he could show me 500 songs in 5 minutes, and he sat down and showed me the IV-IV-i progression, which opened the whole thing up for me.”

“After I started playing guitar I kind of hit the road for a few years. I went out west as a migrant worker, picking weeds in Texas, and ended up picking cherries in Washington state. San Francisco blew me out – this is in 1966 when it was really getting hip – and I moved there in late 1967 or early 1968.”

“They’d been calling me Coco Robicheaux since I was a little boy – it was the name of the kid that got snatched up by the loup garou, and they would call kids that when they would be doing wrong, to scare you. But I started using it full time after some dude stole my id in San Francisco and did a bunch of terrible crimes under my name. This guy plagued me for years with all the bad stuff he did under Curtis Arceneaux, so I just called myself Coco after that.”

Coco went back to New Orleans in the early 70’s, but then traveled around a bit and ended up in Key west in the early 80’s. He had a band there called Mojo Hand. Coco went back to New Orleans in 1992 just after Mardi Gras and decided to concentrate on his music, writing songs and playing with whomever he could. He played around town at places like Checkpoint Charlie’s, the Dragon’s Den, and Margaritaville. working with guitarist Kenny Halliday and with Irene & the Mikes, allowing him to develop and consolidate an impressive body of original material. He signed with producer Carlo Ditta at Orleans Records to record these songs with a gang of splendid musicians of his choosing. This compilation resulted in “Spiritland”, one of several recordings he made with Orleans Records.





“The long-awaited debut disc by the one-and-only Coco Robicheaux, man of many stories with voice of honey under gravel…to this writers ears, Spiritland speaks eloquent testimony to the depth of feeling and breadth of vision Coco brings to his music. The 10 original compositions that make up this album have been written and scored out of the circumstances of Coco’s life experience, and each directly reflects an aspects of the unique Robicheaux reality.”

John Sinclair WWOZ DJ/Poet