(This interview was originally published on June 2, 2014 – some content has been updated)
If you were into the rock and roll scene of the 1990’s you have probably heard of the band, Cowboy Mouth. They had the catchy hit song, Jenny Says that played over and over on the radio all across the United States. Paul Sanchez was one of the founding members of the band in 1990 and played with them up until 2006.
Since leaving the New Orleans based rock band, Sanchez has gone on to be a premier singer, songwriter, producer, writer, musician, and actor. He played himself in the hit HBO show Treme and was the driving force in bringing the Dan Baum book Nine Lives to life with 39 original songs based on the book. He has written songs for Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, The Eli Young Band, and even had a song covered by the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas!
From Sanchez’s website: “In January of 2010, OffBeat Magazine awarded Paul three Best Of The Beat Awards: Songwriter of The Year, Best Song Of The Year, Best Folk/Rock Album for A Stew Called New Orleans, his duet record with friend and collaborator John Boutte. In April of that same year, Gambit Weekly awarded him Best Roots Rock Performer at The Big Easy Awards.
In 2016, Sanchez released his 14th album, Heart Renovations, which features 20 new original songs and is considered the sequel to his critically acclaimed first solo album, Jet Black and Jealous, which was released in 1992. Sanchez is a powerful storyteller and that strength is shared through each of these songs. He sings about the end of a marriage, and death; he sings about hope and redemption. The album is raw and emotional and one of his best.
With his now nomadic lifestyle (as penned by John Swenson of offBeat Magazine) and touring extensively, Sanchez released the second album, Life Is A Show, in 2017 with his good friends the Rolling Road Show that features Alex McMurray, Matt Perrine, Washboard Chaz, Carlo Nuccio, and Craig Klein.
Where’s your favorite place to order red beans and rice in New Orleans?
We (he and his wife Shelly) never go out for beans preferring to make our own. Truth be told, she prefers hers to mine but mine is awesome and she has completely “forgotten” that I taught her to make beans when we first got married.
What do you put in your red beans, anything different or unique?
We use Camellia Red Beans, soaked overnight. I would like to say that Shelly and I use the same recipe but like any good cook I am convinced she holds back a secret ingredient or two.
Our recipe is the standard “holy trinity” of New Orleans cooking, bell pepper onions, and celery. A chicken stock with some water for a base. I also like to add garlic, a lot of garlic. Like a lot of old-time New Orleanians, I was raised to believe garlic is good for you, and I just like the taste. Shelly has also gotten me used to adding jalapeño, sliced up. I didn’t use to do so but she grows them in the garden and loves spicy food so I got used to it, then I had to have it. She will also add a little basil with the bay leaf, also fresh from the garden.
What else do you serve with your red beans?
We put enough meat in the beans to not have more, once in a while we will have a piece of Tilapia on the side but usually just a salad.
We both use pickle meat as well as sausage. What kind depends on who’s cooking but I like pork or turkey sausage. We pan-fry the sausage after cutting it up, just enough to brown it. Shelly learned that one from me though after twenty years of marriage she takes full credit for it as well as most of this recipe.
Do you only eat red beans and rice on the traditional Monday or is any day of the week alright?
My wife Shelly and I are big fans of beans on a Monday, both born and raised New Orleanians. She works on movies for a living and makes beans on a Sunday which often becomes dinner three out of five days that week.
For more information on Paul Sanchez, his music, books, and where he’s playing, please visit his website www.PaulSanchez.com. If you’re in New Orleans, make sure you check his website for concert dates. You don’t want to miss out on one of New Orleans’s finest musicians!
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Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.