‘A loud and raucous voice’ comes to Vail | VailDaily.com

‘A loud and raucous voice’ comes to Vail

Caramie Schnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily

VAIL, Colorado –As the story goes, Cowboy Mouth’s frontman Fred LeBlanc was singing well before he was babbling “momma” or “dadda.”

“I was born deaf because of a deformity in my ears,” he said earlier this week during a phone interview from the band’s home base in New Orleans. “My parents used to lay my head on the speakers. The story my family always tells is I could sing before I could talk. It’s just in me.”

And really, there’s not much else this “full-blooded Cajun” enjoys. If he wasn’t fronting a band, he’d likely be in jail, LeBlanc said.

“I just went out and made it work for myself,” he said while waiting in line at the DMV. “And I’m lucky to play in what I think is a pretty rockin’ little band.”

Rockin’ is right – New Orleans-style rockin’, to be specific. Cowboy Mouth is also led by John Thomas Griffith on vocals and lead guitar. Then there’s Jonathan Pretus on rhythm guitar and Regina Zernay on bass. LeBlanc sings and plays drums. Yep, drums. Not the typical instrument for a frontman.

“I’m up front, so we’re going to be pretty different anyway,” he said. “Visually, its very arresting and musically, it’s not the norm.”

The foursome will bring their fun, extremely high-energy show to Vail tonight at a free Street Beat concert set for 6 p.m. at Golden Peak. It’s the only concert of the year taking place on the Golden Peak stage, and it’s also the only show happening on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday.

“If you see us, it’s hard not to like us,” LeBlanc said. “The music is very catchy and fun. We’re not out there playing bizarre time signatures. It’s good ol’ Cajun-flavored, melodic, kick-ass rock n’ roll and I guarantee the crowd in Vail will have the best time.”

Cowboy Mouth has been around since 1990 and performed more than 2,000 shows. They also have a hefty total of 17 studio, live albums and EP’s. Shakespeare and Bob Dylan both used the term “Cowboy Mouth” in their poetry and it was also the name of a play by Patti Smith and Sam Shepard. Simply, the term refers to a person with a loud and raucous voice – fitting for a band that’s known for its intense live shows with loud, raucous vocals.

LeBlanc has said if The Neville Brothers and The Clash had a baby, it’d be Cowboy Mouth.

“It’s all about joy, passion, its about cutting loose and letting go,” LeBlanc said. “It’s kind of like a religous revival without the religion.”

“Jenny Says” – which LeBlanc wrote – is perhaps the band’s best-known song. There have been plenty of other notable tunes over the years, which LeBlanc also penned – “How Do You Tell Someone,” “Love Of My Life,” “Disconnected,” “Take Me Back To New Orleans,” and “I Believe.”

New Orleans is the home and birthplace of plenty of bands, and for good reason, LeBlanc said. And while life moves at a slower pace in NOLA, there’s the same level of competitiveness among the city’s musicians.

“New Orleans is a good place to woodshed, meaning you can take your time developing who you are, what your creative thing is. And if you don’t like it, you can change it. It’s very easy to reinvent yourself here.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 9780-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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