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The Fool Finally Enters: Moon Pie Curtis Debut Album Is Anything But

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Oxford, Mississippi’s Moon Pie Curtis (Tad Wilkes), has been working on his new album Enter the Fool for decades. On one hand it’s an attempt at a grand entrance; on the other hand, he’s been milling around just inside the back door for a while.

Despite making countless recordings of his songs over the years, Wilkes never felt entirely satisfied with any of his recordings to make them official, until now. Enter the Fool hit iTunes in June, 2015, and is available on CD on Lazy Magellman Records.

“My own previous recordings were always bad-sounding acoustic endeavors or me rocking out with a drum machine,” he says. “I recorded an album in 1999 that I never released, because almost immediately after it was finished, it made me cringe, and I rewrote a couple of the songs. That idea of setting songs in stone on a CD put me off for a long time.”

After founding Oxford rock band Cardinal Fluff in the ‘90s and brandishing a variety of pointy electric guitars, Wilkes soon retreated to the acoustic guitar and followed muses including Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, and Steve Goodman, to mention a few recognizable names. Raising a family, Wilkes relegated his songwriting and performing to backburner status while still keeping at it—recording demos at home and performing mostly solo. Along the way, this past spring, Wilkes hastily wrote and home-recorded “Dr. Jones is Gonna Cut You With His Gamma Knife,” a T-Rex-ish folk ballad in defense of Dr. Dan Jones, chancellor of the University of Mississippi. The song went “about half viral,” says Wilkes, on YouTube among Ole Miss folk. Through all his songs, heartbreak and humor hook up frequently.

Several years back, Rick Hynum, editor of The Oxford Enterprise, wrote that Wilkes has “a songwriting style that owes a little bit to the likes of Guy Clark and Kris Kristofferson and a whole lot to no one you’ve ever heard before. Peppered with raunchy wit and piercing self-deprecation, [his] songs manage to be autobiographical and universal at the same time, filled with longing … Even the saddest and sweetest of his songs will make you guffaw when you least expect it.”

Wilkes is already assembling material for the next album, but Enter the Fool is a collection of the songs that wouldn’t go away.

“Some of the songs on this album are as old as 12 years or so, but they are ones that really always deserved a full arrangement—not just me and my guitar,” says Wilkes, who brought Will Smith into the act a few years ago on lead guitar.

That duo morphed into a band in 2014, Moon Pie Curtis & the Fixins. A record was inevitable, so Wilkes launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. The only Fixin on the record is Smith, with Nashville musicians Lil Rae Rae on keys, Andy Leab on drums, and Captain Midnight [formerly of Cardinal Fluff] performing and producing.

“This record is something I talked myself out of doing for about 20 years,” says Wilkes. “And now I’m ready to start the next one.”

For more information, email euzema@gmail.com or call (662) 801-0456.

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