River Rouge: Local Music to Your Ears!

By: Toni Cunningham | November 12, 2012

What’s more rock n’ roll than a band that derived its name from an automotive plant in Detroit?

Local band River Rouge is composed of frontman/singer/songwriter Andre Comeau, who plays with a revolving group of musicians to accompany him. Comeau began playing with fellow musicians Randy Morris, Jon Mesh, Darren Elpant, Lelah Simon and Jay Emley in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.

“I was performing mostly acoustic performances at the time with a welter of new material that they helped flesh out,” Comeau said.

A few years later, he decided to return to his acoustic-folk roots and his friends followed suit.

“When I started playing banjo and lap-steel in addition to acoustic guitar, Jon moved from guitar to mandolin, and Randy moved to acoustic bass,” Comeau said, noting that they then added multi-instrumentalists to the band.

Detroit-born Comeau describes his music as having a uniform sound, but says his most recent release, “Not All There Anymore,” has taken a turn back to rock.

“My previous couple albums were more up-tempo-acoustic-folk, almost bluegrass,” Comeau said.

The band’s songs are all about personal experience, and Comeau takes inspiration from fellow musicians Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Litle Richard.

“I really love Blues from the 40s and 50s… Also Bluegrass music has made a huge impact on me. Allison Krauss & Union Station, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck to name just a few. I dig subtle indie rock artists like Iron & Wine, Elliott Smith and heavier rock like Dead Weather and Queens of the Stone Age,” Comeau said.

Comeau said he loves performing, and the band is incredibly adaptable to its surroundings.

“It’s not unusual to see River Rouge perform at events like Santa Monica’s 4th of July Parade on a moving flatbed truck or at LA’s alt-country Grand Ole Echo, NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall, or something as simple as an open-mic at a local coffee house,” Comeau said.

River Rouge has five albums available for purchase on iTunes. The first, “Milkweed for Breakfast,” was released in 2000, and the most recent was released in 2011.

Fans can expect a new album soon, as River Rouge will record a new album early next year, according to Comeau.

“So far, the tracks are shaping up to represent two different sides. Side ‘A’ will be as rocking as AC/DC and Side ‘B’ will be whisper-quiet as Nick Drake,” Comeau said.

River Rouge has had a following for years, and Comeau encourages aspiring musicians to start writing songs early, and never throw anything away in order to succeed.

“We’re not terribly afraid to try something new even if that means we fall flat on our faces if we fail,” Comeau said. “Is it fearless? No. But it’s something.”

For more information on River Rouge, visit the band’s Facebook page.