For singer-songwriter/author/outdoorsman Perry Guy, offbeat Christmas celebrations are one of the many reasons for his love affair with the Gulf Coast. During the colder months, Guy assists his wife at her Magazine Street art gallery in New Orleans. The warmer months bring him to Gulf Shores, where he runs Island Life Beach Rentals & Fishing Charters.
Guy cherishes the days he gets to spend on the Alabama Gulf Coast, whether on one of his kayaks or a fishing boat. He’s also proud to admit his Gulf Coast Christmas tradition is a steaming hot pot of his trademark seasonal dish.
“One thing that’s so special about Christmas in the South is that we have unique and different foods,” Guy said. “Every year, I always make the best seafood gumbo ever. I make a huge pot, and I usually have to do it a couple of times for different people.”
Guy’s holiday gumbo is just one feature in a large work of conceptualized Yuletide art he has translated into book and song. This multi-talented artist is currently promoting his children’s book, “A Gulf Coast Christmas,” and a companion song of the same name.
This mixed-medium concept actually began to take shape last year. “A Gulf Coast Christmas” began as a follow-up to Guy’s 2014 literary debut “Treasures in the Sand.” From regional wildlife to local culture, “Treasures in the Sand” took readers on a textual vacation to the Gulf of Mexico, complete with beautiful artwork provided by Melissa Turk Studio in New York.
With “A Gulf Coast Christmas,” Guy decided to invite the public to the ultimate Gulf Coast Christmas celebration, which is held by many of the coastal animals introduced in “Treasures in the Sand.” Beach Bunny decorates a cypress tree with a fossilized starfish provided by Bama Beach Mouse and Gusty Ghost Crab. A trio of pelicans provide a Christmas dinner from the salty seas, paired with Cuddly Caleb the Bayou Beaver’s vegetable dishes. Even Felix the Fox gives up his natural instincts and celebrates in peace with the rest of the animals. These events are brought to life by beautiful pictures from Melissa Turk Studio’s Bridget Starr Taylor.
Guy received copies of the book in 2015 just a few days before Christmas. He decided to promote the book on WALA’s “Studio 10” and distributed as many copies in local stores as possible. As Christmas 2015 came and went, he determined to heavily promote the book for the 2016 holiday season, and to add to this holiday experience of “A Gulf Coast Christmas.”
“I wanted to write a song to go with ‘A Gulf Coast Christmas,’” Guy said. “It just didn’t come to me until last spring. When the song came together in my head, I knew that I had it. I wanted to encompass the Gulf Coast as I know it. The third verse says, ‘from Destin to Galveston Bay.’ That covered my grounds.”
Serving as a musical retelling of the book, “A Gulf Coast Christmas” is the last track on Guy’s latest album “Island Life,” recorded at Pensacola’s Lucky K Studio. This brand new, 14-song collection represents a musical style Guy calls “Gulf Coast Island Music.” Guy’s sub-genre mixes trop rock with Americana to create what he calls “cool, laid back, easy listening” music.
Much like his books, this singer-songwriter conjures coastal inspiration and weaves it into tracks that exhibit a lighthearted serenity that can be found through a carefree life on the Gulf of Mexico.
“Island Life” is the Gulf Coast seen through Guy’s eyes. “Another Day in Paradise” takes listeners on a motorcycle ride as he travels from Mobile to Fort Morgan by way of the Dauphin Island ferry. With its tale of reincarnation, “Brown Pelican” is a transcendental look at a familiar sight on the Gulf Coast.
Guy says the next single will be “Back Here on the Farm,” a dive into the Louisiana bayou with a mix of country and zydeco sounds. The inspirational groundwork for this song was first laid during his childhood in Kentwood, Louisiana, where Guy says he grew up playing shirtless and barefooted with his cousins and brothers. For him, his life on the Gulf Coast has perpetuated the emotions behind those memories.
“We would run wild and free,” Guy said. “That’s the way it is on the Gulf Coast. I feel right at home with the water right there. I love the coast. With most people, you feel it’s where you belong.”
In the past, Guy’s albums and books have been featured at beachside institutions such as The Flora-Bama and Tacky Jack’s. However, he says the easiest way to get a copy of either of his books or his latest album is to visit his website (www.islandlifegear.com).
Through his blog, potential visitors to the Gulf Coast can also get an inside look at the area. Guy provides information on all the best places to paddle and kayak as well as the wild fruit found in the area. While this appears to be a dream job for him, Guy hopes the potential success of his books and music will allow him to focus on the more artistic aspects of his life.
“I’ve got a lot going on with my music and my books,” Guy said. “My dream and desire is to do writing and have somebody else run the business for me. I’ve got a lot of plans for the future. I’m excited about what’s taking place with my work.”