Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano enjoys life with animals

Johnette Napolitano made her most recent solo CD “The Naked Album” in the desert. (Courtesy Amber Rogers)

Concrete Blonde mainstay Johnette Napolitano tracked her latest self-released solo effort “The Naked Album” in her secluded cabin in the Mojave desert. For skeletal, bluesy new numbers like “Here,” “She’s Gone” and “Jazz on Vinyl,” she simply recruited her producer chum Brian Mansell, who brought his MobileMediaLab porta-studio to her Joshua Tree digs, with her wooden walls and rafters providing perfect echoed acoustics. It’s where she’s also writing the screenplay — and composing a soundtrack — for a film called “Witch,” about a medium’s real-life 1962 witchcraft trial in New Orleans.

So you’re up early, feeding your animals?

Always. I have a horse, a goat and three dogs. I like animals – they make me feel good. But I’m down to one horse, I had three horses at one time, and that was way too much. And all my animals are adopted, a lot of times through no fault of their own – out here in the desert, people pass away and they haven’t made provisions for their animals. That’s how I wound up with that many horses.

Last time we spoke, you had just beheaded a rattlesnake in your cabin with a shovel.

Oh, yeah. And I feel bad every time I do it. But I’ve killed five rattlesnakes. And the interesting thing is, not one of them rattled. They say that the course of evolution is working out their rattles, and they can’t do it anymore. When they’re on my property, I look around and think, “You’ve got the whole desert, dude! Why are you here?”

Sounds like anything goes out in the Mojave.

That’s true. I’m out here on my own, and if I get bit, it’s bad news. I got bitten by a desert recluse spider, a relative of the brown recluse, and I was f—ed up from my hip to my foot. And if you see one spider, there’s a whole tribe behind them, because they’re a pack. So I had to purge the whole house.

Have you been affected by the drought?

I have a very small footprint. I have a 10-gallon hot water tank, and I think my horse drinks more water than I do. And I don’t have a lawn or anything to water. I’d love to have a garden, but my goat would eat everything.

But your goat can hear your demos and tell you if they’re b-a-a-ad.

Hey, I sing to them all the time, as a matter of f-a-a-a-ct! And they love flamenco – they absolutely respond to that so well. But Billy the Goat likes metal sometimes. He’s a real metalhead.

IF YOU GO
Johnette Napolitano
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 29
Tickets: $23 to $65
Contact: (510) 238-9200, www.ticketfly.com

Concrete BlondeJohnette NapolitanoMojave desertNaked Album

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