Houston artist D. Kosmo knows a thing or two about starting over. Just this year he will see his youngest child go off to college as so many other parents will, “It’s a very strange experience, like that’s it; they are off to a new chapter. It tells you you’re getting old man.”
Kosmo is not “old” but has lived a life full of changes with an always present and sincere passion for art, something that seems to pump through his veins. His father, a man who worked for NASA for years, tracked down blues legend Mance Lipscomb in his home one day and offered to record him right there on the spot. “Those are my first audio memories as a child, listening to those reel to reels that my dad recorded on the porch in Navasota. I grew up in a real musically diverse family.” says Kosmo.
Kosmo had a lifelong interest in music and visual arts but put it all on the back burner to raise his family and work a more traditional day job. It was only in recent years that he left that job and decided to give music a real go. In 2017 he released his first solo album, Honeymoon, a dark and gritty, foot stomping, blues centered reflection of his musical upbringings. “I knew I was different as a little kid, I wanted to play like Lightnin’ Hopkins at ten years old, I didn’t want to learn Dan Fogelberg music.” he laughs. “Definitely achieved that goal.”
Kosmo was building a steady fan base here in town and beyond our city limits but shortly after found himself in a position no one ever wants to be in, “All I remember is I woke up one day, and I couldn’t get out of bed, my legs didn’t work.” Kosmo called his fiancée to help him and was carried away on a stretcher. Almost a year later and doctors still are not clear what caused his paralysis though they suspect it was a case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
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“I got sick and basically paralyzed from the waist down; no use of my hands, my motor skills were shot. I basically don’t know how to tell that story because I’m still oozing a lot of this residual stuff.” says Kosmo. “What it did is it peeled all those layers of my onion to my core and I had to rebuild from my core.”
Kosmo has been rebuilding his life since using his art as therapy, not only for his body and mind but also for his pocket book. He accrued a massive amount of medical debt and is using his art to raise money to pay his bills.
Kosmo’s fiancée and musical collaborator in a project called Black Lung Lucy, Jennifer Wilder, also had a brush with bad health and the couple has banded together to hustle their talents and get ahead. “Yeah I’m bitter, yeah I’m pissed but I’m going to take that in a positive and I’m going to live. I’m going to go do what I need to do and I think that’s where I’m at now. I’m so focused on fulfilling all the things I want to do personally, like the music and the art.” says Kosmo.
Kosmo and Wilder own their strangeness and bring to their art and music an unprocessed and unfiltered genuineness. “I always call it like a gumbo; I got my roux which is my soul and then the ingredients are all these other influences in my life, whether it be art, music or whatever. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse I suppose.” describes Kosmo.
Aside from selling their original artwork online, mostly by posting on Instagram, Kosmo is also teaming up with Texas king of weird J.D. Pinkus, of Butthole Surfers, Melvins and Honky to name a few, for new album. The duo met through a Facebook message and started a deep friendship. “You would think we were brothers.” says Kosmo.
“In my darkest time, when I was sick and went through all that stuff months ago, he dropped everything and stayed with me for like three days. It was incredible and that’s the tie that we have and from there it has just grown.” he continues.
Pinkus is producing Kosmo’s new album, Buffalo Children, and bringing to the table his unique ability to blend strong genres of music. “The way he’s treating this album is really super cool. We are not doing it like a traditional way of recording where you block time in the studio and go hammer out all these songs over days, Jeff’s vision is each song is treated differently with different musicians involved.” describes Kosmo.
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The two have been meeting every other week and bringing in musicians big and small to contribute to tracks. Kosmo is definitely including his frequent backing musicians featuring Willy T. Golden, Dave DeVegas and Shane Lauder. "I don’t have a band in the traditional sense, but I don't know how I got so lucky. I call them the A team of Houston." says Kosmo of his regular backers.
The two friends will share the bill at Rudyard's and feature visuals done by Pat Casey. The show will be a rare opportunity for Pinkus fans to see the artist perform his solo electric banjo songs before Kosmo and his band take the stage with Jennifer Wilder joining for a few songs.
Kosmo sums up his vision humbly, “I’m not really a musician, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if I’m telling a story or I don’t really know. I know it’s entertainment and I know that in the past six months the shows are shifting with a different type of people coming out which is great because I like people to sit down and listen.”
J.D. Pinkus and D. Kosmo will perform May 24 at Rudyard's British Pub, 2010 Waugh, doors at 8 p.m. $8