Coyote Joe Daigneault. Photo by Erin Ward

By Jim Headley

“I came to Maricopa to create a music scene, and it’s damn hard here.”

Coyote Joe began playing music when he was 7. Today he’s one of the busiest musicians in the Valley.

Blame his wife. Joe Daigneault said he met his wife Cathy at 12 and knew she was the one for him.

“I’m the first boy that ever kissed her,” Coyote Joe said. “We got married at 21. I said, ‘Kathy, I’m going to work really hard for five years and pay the house off. As soon as I get the house paid off, I’m going to go and be a ful-ltime musician.’ I paid the house off when I was 57.”

Kathy told Joe to become a full-time musician and live up to his end of their deal.

“If you want to have health insurance and a new car every four or five years, maybe go on a vacation now and then and fix the air conditioning unit when it breaks, you better have a different career than music,” Joe said.

He said playing music in Arizona allows him to make some good pocket money.

“The average guy, who’s a weekend warrior in Arizona, goes home, if he’s lucky, with $80 a night,” he said. “I do a little better than that, but I play a lot. This time of year, I play all the time. Sometimes, I’m playing because I want to play. Sometimes, I’m playing because I want the money.”

Coyote Joe playing at Copper Sky in 2018. Photo by Bruce P. Jones

Instead of Daigneault, he’d rather just be called Coyote Joe, on and off stage. It gives him an identity as he tries to rally Maricopa musicians to gather and mentor each other.

“I think I’m doing who I am,” Coyote Joe said. “I came to Maricopa to create a music scene, and it’s damn hard here. The Raceway Bar and Grill has been great, and I play there often. I also play at A Latte Vino in Casa Grande. It is our job for every musician in this town to get to know each other. What this town is missing is some of those more soulful things. We need some cool little coffee shops and a little wine bar.”

While best known for his five seasons as host and writer for ABC15’s Emmy Award-winning television cooking series, “The Sonoran Grill,” Coyote Joe has also made over 400 appearances on ABC15’s “Sonoran Living” and authored an impressive catalogue of southwestern cookbooks.

He also sculpts and writes poetry.

Coyote Joe said he’s been “serious about playing” for several years now. He spent almost two years learning one specific guitar-picking technique and “getting it right.”

It is a hybrid method with strumming and a finger pick at the same time.

“I try to get my music down first, then I think of a melody and then I think about lyrics,” he said. “I’m thinking about the drums and I’m thinking about the baseline. Then there’s a melodic line over the top. At the same time, I’m thinking about the kick and the snare.”

What this all boils down to is Coyote Joe’s unique sound on stage.

Professional musician J.C. Scott is one of Coyote Joe’s friends and they often play music together. Scott said he first met Coyote Joe about 10 years ago.

“His nickname is actually Mad Coyote Joe,” Scott said. “When we first met him, he was delivering bread and food to people. He is a musician who is very entertaining. His selection of songs – he’s the only musician I know that plays a plethora of TV tunes. He has a very eclectic group of songs, and he has a broad range.”

Coyote Joe developed his style inside a group of peer/mentor musicians in the Valley. He works a lot with Blade Wilson of Blade Wilson and the Mixups and Tim Brady with T-Bone and the Bastards.

“For me, what has been the valuable part of learning has been this peer/mentor relationship,” he said. “When you first start playing with somebody and I say, ‘you’re not getting your pitches,’ what most people hear is … you’re a bad person and you don’t deserve to be an artist. I need a group of people that will dispassionately analyze my music with a critical eye and understand how to deliver that information in a way that I’ll understand.”

Scott said Coyote Joe is well known in Cave Creek, where he is “one of the crew” among a group of musicians.

Coyote Joe plays around the area including at Raceway Bar & Grill, The Havoc at Harold’s and Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek, and hosts A Cuppa Joe, every Saturday morning at Janey’s in Cave Creek, The Tavern at Tarbell’s, JJ Madison’s in Mesa and many more locations.

bit.ly/MadCoyoteJoe


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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