Big Easy’s Cowboy Mouth takes idea of feeling greatto unprecedented heights
Here’s a powerful statement: Crystal Bay Casino Manager Bill Wood said the band Cowboy Mouth put on perhaps the best show ever in the Crown Room.
In two years, the Crown Room has developed a reputation for presenting some of the top bands in the country.
And who is this band Cowboy Mouth?
“It’s very New Orleans, but at the same time it’s crazy, kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll,” said drummer Fred LeBlanc. “I like to say, if the Neville Brothers and Green Day had a child, it would be us.”
LeBlanc plays drums set up at the front of the stage. He has a penchant for working the crowd into a frenzy – and it starts on the first song.
Cowboy Mouth is named after a Sam Shepherd play, which has a character who is a drummer whose mission is to deliver rock ‘n’ roll in a unique way.
It is indisputable that Cowboy Mouth is unique. The high-energy band has toured with Widespread Panic and the Beat Farmers and, like those bands, has a loyal following because of its live shows. More than 8 million people have attended shows starring Cowboy Mouth since it formed in the mid-1990s. The performance transcends musical genres.
“Everybody says a bad attitude is contagious – well a good one is too and that’s what we like to prove every night,” LeBlanc said. “A lot of it is just celebrating, cuttin’ loose, lettin’ go and not let the world get to you for a while.”
LeBlanc’s attitude was reinforced because of Hurricane Katrina, which caused hardships for all four members of the New Orleans band. Cowboy Mouth was in Atlanta recording its 11th album, “Voodoo Shop,” during the flooding. Some of the songs are about the disaster.
“That’s taking lemons and making lemonade,” he said. “You get to a point where you just have to dust yourself off and say, ‘OK life’s moving on, and I need to move on with it.’ Granted I was one of the lucky ones. My sister and best friend were completely wiped out. It’s all around you.”
The opening song on the album is “Joe Strummer.” It describes how the singer has to leave his girlfriend because she doesn’t know about the lead singer of the Clash.
“The Clash shook me out of my stupor when I was a younger man,” LeBlanc said. “There’s a lot of bands that worry about technical proficiency, especially these days. It’s getting to the point where it’s all about impressing everybody about what you can do. I always tell people who play with the band I’d rather you play the one wrong note with all of your heart than the one right note completely devoid of any emotion.”
While conventional wisdom holds that live shows promote a band’s album, LeBlanc says Cowboy Mouth’s albums are intended to promote the shows.
Internet users who want to see what a Cowboy Mouth show is about should check out some of the videos on YouTube.
LeBlanc said he is happy to get a return engagement at Tahoe.
“I’m not here to do the dishes,” he said. “We’re here to have a damn good time. We’re from New Orleans, and were a little crazy down here, but at the same time it’s intense insanity with a purpose now. The world spends a lot of time just trying to beat people down and make people feel less than. A Cowboy Mouth show tries to make people feel good, make people feel excited and glad to be alive. And you know, that’s a damn good thing to be a part of.”
Where: Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room
When: 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15
Tickets: $17 in advance, $20 on the day of the show