Cowboy Mouth ready to raise hell in the Hub

If you’ve never been to a Cowboy Mouth show, a few alerts are in order: You will be expected to jump up, shout along, hug your neighbors, drop your inhibitions and generally go wild. The New Orleans rockers don’t believe in taking no for an answer.

“Our goal is that you leave a Cowboy Mouth show feeling a thousand times better than you have in a long time,” says Fred LeBlanc, the group’s drummer, singer, main songwriter and resident rabble-rouser.

“The way things are today, we all need to raise a little hell, or a little heaven, or whatever you prefer. In New Orleans one of the first things you learn is to celebrate life because you never know when it could end. Mardi Gras is only a few days and the river could overtake the city at any time. So, celebrating that you’re alive right now is one of the most rebellious things that anybody can do. And believe me, nobody’s going to look any dumber than I do onstage.” The band hits City Winery on Wednesday.

LeBlanc and co-founder/guitarist/singer John Thomas Griffith (from the notable punk band Red Rockers) have carried Cowboy Mouth through numerous lineups (currently there’s bassist Brian Broussard and guitarist “Frankie G” Grocholski), but the trademark sound remains: A little Clash and Replacements, a little Crescent City soul, and a whole lot of fervor. Le Blanc grew up watching local TV preachers and brought some of that style into his stage persona.

“I used to see a local guy, the Reverend Paul Morton, who was on TV right before Bugs Bunny. I was raised Catholic and it was always ‘You’re an original sinner and nothing can save you, now give us your money.’ But then I saw that the Black gospel churches were more celebratory and I wanted to bring some of that to the stage. The gospel influence for me isn’t about a religious context, but saying ‘Believe in yourself and anything is possible. And this moment is going to be great, because we say it is’.”

There hasn’t been a Cowboy Mouth album in awhile but they have dropped a few new singles online, ranging from “12-8” — a thoughtful remembrance of John Lennon — to “The Breakup Song” — yes, a cover of Greg Kihn’s ‘80s hit. Just last week they dropped “Alternate Reality,” a rocker that exudes celebration and attitude.

But they don’t mind if you came mainly to hear their big ‘90s hit, “Jenny Says.” Says LeBlanc, “Not to pat myself on the back but it’s a well written song, and the band always plays it great. We’re always finding new ways to approach it. It’s tom-tom based, so it’s a fun one to play on drums. So it doesn’t bother me at all if people want to hear it.”

In fact “Jenny Says” usually becomes the big audience-participation number at the end. “If I told you I knew what I was doing onstage I’d be lying,” LeBlanc says. “It’s all momentary instinct. But after years of doing this I’d say I’ve become a student of human nature. We have the arrows in our quiver to make sure that we do what needs to happen. I might look at the audience and say, ‘Okay, this guy looks like he needs this show, and that woman is in a bad mood.’ I’ve only gotten punched once in 35 years, so I must be doing okay.”

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