Damian Coen and the Fathers of Necessity

Damian Coen and the Fathers of Necessity

 Moruya, New South Wales, AUS

In 2012, Daman Coen suffered a major stroke (5.4cm clot on his Broca's area). His spoken / written words are still only at about 60% of his pre-stroke ability, but his musicianship is better than before! One would never know that Damian had suffered a such a stroke when he sings and blows his harp!


Renowned for his lyrical old-time blues harmonica playing, Damian Coen has emerged as a roots & blues singer with a story to tell. A devotee of early country blues sounds, Coen became integral to Sydney’s acoustic blues and roots scene in the mid 1980s, when he founded the now-fabled jug band, The Mudsteppers, with Damon Davies. After moving to the USA and refining his talents with Delta bluesman, Paul Brasch (Burnside Records), Coen then escaped to a swamp-side retreat south of Sydney. Here, Damian Coen has shaped himself as a highly accomplished songwriter and performer.

In recognition of his musical credentials, Coen and his bands have had the privilege of playing support to various international blues legends, such as Charlie Musselwhite, John Hammond, and James Cotton. He has also played at many peak festivals, including the Waterfront Blues Festival (USA) and the North by NorthWest Festival (USA); and many Australian events including the Australian Blues Festival, East Coast Blues & Roots Festival, the National Folk Festival, and Narooma Blues Festival.

In 2004, Coen released his first collection of original songs, Six Lane Highway (now distributed in Australia by Planet /MGM). The album received critical acclaim (see “Reviews”). One of the tracks, Sydney City Rag, was a winner in the ABC’s “Fresh Air” competition, leading to national airplay on programs such as The Planet. Another (previously recorded) track, Do The Mudstep, was used by Australian act, Salty Dog, as their signature tune on their award-winning album, Mudsteppin. More recently, ukulele tunes and even a line dance have been created for 'Mudsteppin' (Do The Mudstep).

In 2008, Coen released his second album of all-original songs, entitled We Gotta Move (distributed by Planet/MGM). Recorded with The Fathers of Necessity, the album also features guest appearances by the likes of Damon Davies (slide guitar), Don Hopkins (piano), Cazzbo Johns (tuba), and Marcus Holden (strings). The result is a stunning album that finally realizes Coen’s powerful song-writing and startling harmonica versatility. Drifting through swampy blues, hillbilly tunes, sweet ballads, and gospel harmonies, the album showcases Coen’s unique knack for marrying blues and roots influences with contemporary story telling. Coen's song "In My Father's Footsteps" has been announced by the Australian Songwriters Association as 2008 Instrumental Song of the Year!

Over the past years, Coen has played selected gigs and festivals, mostly along the South Coast, with occasional Sydney and Canberra shows. Most recently, he has been joined by Russell Fletcher, who is not only a beautiful guitar player, but also a wonderful singer and songwriter.

In addition to their duo, Damian has also pulled together a vibrant four-piece band, The Fathers of Necessity. Together, The Fathers of Necessity have captivated audiences with a ride that weaves through the rich byways of roots music while somehow managing to take on board personal and political narratives of the modern day.


Turn It Up, Dumb It Down

Written By: Damian Coen

I tried to sing about my life
Songs for my mother and my wife
Clever tunes to make you think
There could be more to life than drink
Sang songs of politics and pain
Thought I could help to make us sane
Opened up my heart
Cos I believed that art
Could take us to a higher plane

Well the music made me high
But it left the punters dry
So I thought I’d ask the folks
The sheilas and the blokes
If there’s something different I should try

And you know what I heard ‘em sayin’?

Turn it up, dumb it down
Want you to act the clown
Dumb it down, turn it up
We need a night on the town

Well I needed applause
And to open some doors
I got distracted from the cause
This is gonna sound lame
But when you’re lookin’ for fame
You gotta play the game
Played in putrid pubs
Sang in sleazy clubs
I never did it for love
Became a musical whore
If you ask, ‘What for?’
So I could hear ’em beg for
More, more, more, more!

Turn it up, dumb it down …

In The USA

Written By: Damian Coen

History is a storyteller
That’s what I’m told
Ideas run out before bullets
When the empire’s getting old
The last of the superpowers
Is the one with the biggest gun
Home of the brave, land of the free
Yes sir, we’re the only one!

In the USA, in the USA
Seen it all before
Got a whole lot more
And if you wanna get it
You can buy it down the store
Hey, hey, in the USA
I think you understand
Stick with Uncle Sam
Or you better get out of the way

Step to the right, more to the right
That’s the way it goes
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours
While I’m standing on your toes
We’re fighting a war on terror
If you don’t join in soon
We’ll be doing the regime shuffle
I think you know the tune!

In the USA, in the USA …

One, two three,
What are we fightin’ for?
All I know is that
We gotta get back from Iraq
And it’s five, six seven
This ain’t no heaven
I don’t care, don’t give a damn
We ain’t learned nothin’ from Vietnam!

Hot Tin Roof

Written By: Damian Coen

Lately I’ve been hiding
Hiding away from the truth
The way you actin’ baby’s
Got me feelin’ so tight
I’m walkin’ like a tomcat
On a hot tin roof

Maybe there’s a reason
Maybe it’s only a hunch
Maybe I should know
Your sense of humour is black
Cos baby I’m still waiting
For the punch

We’re walkin’ round in circles
The clock ticks away the time
Why don’t you try
Getting straight to the point?
Walk your little talk a little
Down the line

A dangerous combination
We dance in the heat of the night
Your manipulation
Of fiction and fact
A strange interpretation
Of the black and white

When you’re looking for the proof
And you sway in the lights
And you quiver to the core
And you’re out on the roof
In the middle of the night
And you hear…the slam of the door

Lately I’ve been hiding
Hiding away from the truth
The way you actin’ lately’s
Got me feelin’ so tight
I’m walkin’ like a tomcat
On a hot tin roof

Holy Water

Written By: Damian Coen

If I could stand by my brother
Discover my way
Find what I might become
Like in days of old
When men were told
What needed to be done
Nowadays the road ain’t straightforward
Takes more than muscle and bone
You can’t reach your goal
Without a heart and soul
And you can’t make it on your own

Was that a tear from my eye
Or a raindrop from the sky?
So I looked up above
And oh, to my surprise
Well I ain’t one for revelations
I’m just telling you what I could see
In that moment of birth
Old mother earth
Was opening the skies for me

Holy water, wash all over me
Thank you woman
All you give to me
Oh, my daughter
Teach me who I need to be
Shine your light
I’ll be your knight
Carry you across the sea

Don't Want To Think

Written By: Damian Coen

The first time you fell
It was just before the bell
And you never saw it coming your way
Cruisin’ along
Like nothin’ was wrong
Now you’ve got a price to pay

And you feel so sorry, so angry
So out of touch
And you know that
You got a whole lot to learn
But you don’t want to think too much

Up from the floor
You were askin’ for more
Saying this time I’m going to win
But it came to an end
You were knocked down again
And you couldn’t take it on the chin

And you feel so sorry, so angry
So out of touch …

You fight and you stumble
So hard to be humble
Even when you’re on your knees
You won’t take the blame
And it’s a cryin’ shame
All you got to say is please…

You could drive yourself mad
Over fightin’ with shadows
And leavin’ your pride in the way
Hold on like a miser
And you ain’t none the wiser
And the price is rising every day

And you feel so sorry, so angry
So out of touch …

We Gotta Move

Written By: Damian Coen

In the morning, in the evening
Just before the break of day
I’ve been thinking, I’ve been dreaming
I even said a prayer in my own way
Hope to get down deep
In this connection
Get down in the groove
Where you follow me
I follow you
Oh, we gotta move

Want you to touch me, to believe me
Want you to understand
I ain’t no god, got imperfections
Here before you I stand
And I don’t want no goddess
From my imagination
All I want is you
Just need you to be true
Ugly or beautiful
Oh, we gotta move

Hear me whisper, hear me holler
Sister won’t you hear my call
I’m gonna be your rock
I’ll be your brother
I won’t let you fall
I’ll be waiting, anticipating
I’ll be there to soothe
I’ll follow you
You follow me
Oh, we gotta move

I gotta move, you gotta move
Oh, we gotta move
Brother gotta move, sister gotta move
Hey, hey, hey, we gotta move
And I said, Hey!
Whoh, gotta move
I gotta, you gotta
You gotta, I gotta
Mmm, we gotta move

Bald Faced Stag

Written By: Damian Coen

Down in Little Italy
At the Bald Faced Stag Hotel
Had a gig with the jugband
And the crowd began to swell
There were mostly friends and locals
Few I didn’t recognize
But sittin’ right there
From out of nowhere
Was the girl with Oregon eyes

The ol’ jugblower’s brother’s partner
Had a friend named Jan
Whose daughter had a harmonica
So she’d come to hear the band
She asked me if I could teach her to play
Said I only play by ear
And we swapped our names and numbers
On coasters soaked in beer

Well I know that it may be improper
For a teacher to get so involved
But we’d pucker our lips, and suck, and blow
And the music just evolved
Though my hair may have been receding
My heart was advancing fast
This fling with the girl with Oregon eyes
Was to be my last

So won’t you let me be your bald faced stag
Till my hair has fallen and your curves have sagged
We will make sad sweet music, everyday
And draw each breath together
To blow the blues away…

Something' Sweet

Written By: Damian Coen

When the wind blows cold
And the sun won’t shine
I’ll bundle you up
And make it fine
Hey honey, tell you what I’m going to do
I’m gonna make somethin’ sweet
Just for you

It could be you on your bike
And me on mine
Or we could ride in tandem
Keep in time
Hey honey, tell you what I’m going to do
I’m gonna make somethin’ sweet
Just for you

I can’t put my feelings
Into words
But I’ll sing for you
Like a bird
Hey honey, tell you what I’m going to do
I’m gonna make somethin’ sweet
Just for you

They can criticize us
Run us down
Chase us to the other
Side of town
Hey honey, tell you what I’m going to do
I’m gonna make somethin’ sweet
Just for you

Thank you darlin’
For thanking me
We’ve made our little
Hey honey, tell you what I’m going to do
I’m gonna make somethin’ sweet
Darlin’, just for you

Consumption Blues

Written By: Damian Coen

Watch the television guru
Preach the virtues of greed
Got ordinary people
Buyin’ things they don’t need
But the more you buy
The less you’re satisfied
If you grabbed all they’re promoting
You’d have nothin’ left inside

Take a little bit of this
Take a little bit of that
If it all went to your waistline
Wouldn’t you be fat?
You’d be suffering
From the consumption blues
Cos when there’s nothin’ left to buy
Fat man, what you goin’ to do?

Get some fast food
Make a fast buck
Make a first impression
You could score a fast #@?!
You’d be suffering
The consumption blues
Cos when you wake up all alone
Lover boy, what you goin’ to do?

They manufacture products
And they manufacture need
Demanding fatter profit
To feed their endless greed
And then they tell you
You’ve got the right to choose
But you know you’re left with nothin’
But the consumption …


Written By: Damian Coen

Like the shadow from the mountain
The waves from the ocean
The voice of the people
Is gonna roll your way
Don’t say you can’t hear it
Can’t say you don’t feel it
Cos truth has the power
To blow you away

Well we read your news
Your point of view
Saw how you lied
About God on your side
You can build your walls
And stack your halls
But now you’re talkin’ about a war
I won’t answer the call

Saw it written on a wall
With an angry fist
“When injustice is the law
It’s your duty to resist”
With a yellow moon, rising tide
The force of nature won’t be denied
With nothin’ left to lose, and all to gain
Gonna hit your wall like a hurricane

The shadow from the mountain
The waves from the ocean
The voice of the people
Is gonna roll your way
Don’t say you can’t hear it
Can’t say you don’t feel it
Truth has the power
To blow you away
Yeah, truth has the power
To blow you away

Do The Mudstep

Written By: Damian Coen

When the sky is dry, your throat is too
And you ain’t got the spit to shine a shoe
You wanna know why the Indians danced for rain?
It’s simple – just let me explain
They’d sing and dance ’til they made it flood
And then dance some more in the thick black mud

They went mudsteppin’, yeah mudsteppin’
They went mudsteppin’, yeah mudsteppin’
Do the mudstep, thickstep, to quicken up your blood

When the river rose, the levees broke
It never did bother them Memphis folk
Mosquitoes buzzin’ ’round their heads
Thick black mud everywhere they’d tread
If they weren’t careful, they’d get stuck
Here’s what they’d do when they’s out of luck:

They went mudsteppin’…

If you wear high heels they’ll only sink
And mud on your boots just starts to stink
Dress regulations were made to bend –
Barefoot’s the fashion I recommend
Kick off your shoes, lift your knees up high
Make that sloppy black mud fly

Let’s go mudsteppin’…

Mud in your eye, mud up your nose
Feel that stuff squish between your toes
If you’re feelin’ hot you might want to rub
A little o’ that stuff on the one you love
So follow me down to where it’s wet and deep
If we stick together I’m yours to keep

Let’s go mudsteppin’…


"We Gotta Move" (distributed by Planet/MGM), 2008
12 original songs by Damian Coen (with The Fathers of Necessity). Intermittent airplay by ABC Radio (including Lucky Oceans -The Planet) especially for ASA Instrumental song of the year, 2008, "In My Father's Footsteps".

"Six Lane Highway" (Planet/MGM), 2004.
14 original songs by Damian Coen.
Intermittent airplay (previously) by ABC Radio.
Especially for "Sydney City Rag", which was a winner of ABC Radio's 2004 "Fresh Air" competition

Paul Brasch, "Find My Way" (Burnside, USA), 1998.
Provided harmonica instrumentation for Paul's album.

Played harmonica on numerous other albums between 1995-2004

The Mudsteppers, "Boots N All", 1994

Red Belly Blues, Self Titled, 1992

The Mudsteppers, "Stompin On The Rocks", 1990

Set List

We play a range of original songs, as recorded on my two all-original albums from 2004 and 2008, and others not-as-yet recorded. Typically, our shows consist of two 45-60 minute sets.