Papa Coyote
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Papa Coyote

Portland, Oregon, United States

Portland, Oregon, United States
Band World Americana


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"Papa Coyote tunes up for New Year’s Eve howling Zydeco and originals on platter in Zigzag"

By Rob Cullivan

(news photo)

Papa Coyote plays his accordion atop Mount Hood as fighter jets attempt to stop the music.

Contributed photo

He’s originally from upstate New York and moved to Portland a few years back, but Papa Coyote’s musical heart lies in Louisiana, Latin America and points beyond.

Papa Coyote and the Swamp Salsa Ragamuffins perform Zydeco songs and funk/latin/ska originals. The band combines island-shaking reggae, Caribbean rhythms, and swamp-hillbilly.

Papa, a.k.a. Evan Stuckless, plays accordion, keys, and sings, and will be hosting a free New Year’s Eve show at Skyway Bar & Grill in Zigzag.

Papa will be joined on stage with bassist Ben Rougeo, a Katrina-displaced Louisiana native, Kevin Fisher, a guitar performance student at Marylhurst University and drummer Aspen Walker, who also plays bass drum for Portland favorites March Fourth.

Papa Coyote and the Swamp Salsa Ragamuffins are preparing for a New Year’s Eve performance in Zigzag. The Gresham Outlook sat down band leader Papa Coyote (a.k.a. Evan Stuckless) for quick Q&A. Here’s what he had to say.

What is the origin of the name Papa Coyote?

PAPA: Right before moving to Portland, I was homesteading on 36 acres in upstate New York that we named the Coyote Hill Family Farm. My extended family had a band called the Coyote Family Band, so it’s only natural that my stage moniker be Papa Coyote.

East County’s coyote population has reportedly increased in recent years. Any connection between your band and this phenomenon?

PAPA: Back east, I would sing with the coyotes on a regular basis, climbing up on the roof with my accordion and howl. My brothers of the fur are following my song and must have gotten sidetracked in East County.

You’ve chosen to be photographed publicly with an accordion. Has this led to any hate crimes being committed against you?

PAPA: The positive squeezebox-vibrations transform any non-accordion player’s envy into the compulsion to dance uncontrollably.

Who are your major musical influences?

PAPA: Classic rock, Afro-pop, Zydeco, bluegrass and tango. Bob Marley, Buckwheat Zydeco, James Brown and Tito Puente.

How does playing in Oregon compare to playing in New York?

PAPA: I’ve found Oregon audiences really appreciate music in a way I haven’t seen in years. My mission is to get Oregonians to dance, which is the only thing I’ve found a little lacking in Portland music events.

Any plans for a Papa Coyote release in the future?

PAPA: Some of the songs you hear in a Papa Coyote set were released by my previous band, The BuddhaHood, on the albums “Rub the Buddha” and “Welcome.” I have also done a fair bit of mandolin and accordion session work in New York and in Portland. We just completed our six-song demo that is available on our Web site.

What was the most exciting moment for you on stage with a famous band?

PAPA: Playing with Little Feat was huge for me, since they were my heroes in my teenage years. I especially remember talking for an hour with the slide guitarist Fred Tackett about his session work with Tom Waits. Recently, I had a fantastic experience sitting in with the Asylum Street Spankers. I got to play an epic Balkan hoedown with them at the Aladdin Theater.

What advice do you have for aspiring accordion players?

PAPA: When I first learned to play accordion, I rubber-banded the fingers of my left hand together to train them to be able to reach the tiny little buttons. It seemed to work.

Have you ever been haunted by the ghost of Lawrence Welk, one of history’s most famous accordion-players?

PAPA: No ghosts, however, I once picked up a signed, first-edition copy of his autobiography. I got it as a joke, but it ended up being the most inspiring musical book I ever read. He talked about loving the music you play and getting ahead by being really nice.

You’ve been photographed standing like a colossus on top of Mount Hood. Wasn’t that a bit dangerous?

PAPA: I have to be careful about which notes I play on the mountain. A double-stopped bellows shake can cause avalanche events.

Do you think you appeal more to alcoholic middle age divorcees, hip hoppers with their pants hangin’ low or super sensitive fans of indie shoegazer rock bands?

PAPA: Actually, people have told me that they love the extreme variety of styles they will hear in a given show. You can see anyone from grandmothers to goths out there dancing.
- The Gresham Outlook, Dec 26, 2008


1995 Rub the Buddha
1998 Welcome: The BuddhaHood
2010: Harmony and Unity: Papa Coyote



Papa plays swampy funk, reggae, and latin songs dished with a heap of accordion attitude. Their witty lyrics, rockin' accordion, soaring electric guitar and singular but approachable songs will rock the boat and shake the island.

Papa's songs inspire and often amuse, his beaming stage presence is infectious. Papa says "Everybody knows I'm having a great time up there!"