"Fred LeBlanc of New Orleans-based Cowboy Mouth is Rick's all-time favorite rock and roll frontman. We asked Fred which frontmen influenced him, what's different about being a band from New Orleans, and why he no longer jumps off the light towers on stage."
John Thomas: Back in the 80s the Red Rockers were on tour with (I think) the Go-Go's. We played what was then the Opryland USA theme park outside of Nashville. They had cut a big circle of the original floor of the old Ryman Auditorium stage and inlaid it into the stage of new Grand Ole Opry. And the mic was right there in the middle of the circle.
I remember calling my mom after the concert on a payphone backstage. I just said, "Mom…" I was kind of tearing up. Because I knew she would be super proud that. I grew up on the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. I called her and told her, "Guess what I just did? I just played the Grand Ole Opry."
When you're standing in that circle… I don't want to be weird about it, but you do feel a magic. There is something poignant about being in that little circle and all the people that have stood there before you. That's a lot of weight. I'm so grateful that I got that opportunity to stand there in the circle.
Matt: Sometimes with songs, Fred has an exact idea of what he wants and directs us to what he is looking for. Other times he leans on us for our own ideas. "Hey, this needs something, but I don't know what, so why don't you do your thing?"
This Saturday, February 13, join Fred for a live stream Mardi Gras show! It starts at 7:30 pm central time at facebook.com/cowboymouth1
Fred: You don’t want to sit there and base your life on something like other people’s opinions. You’ve got to be true to you, and just do your best.
"King Of The World"
Fred: A fan from the deep South told us a few years back that we were “just like a gospel tent revival, but without the religion!“ I have used that line many, many times because I feel like it’s one of the best compliments we’ve ever gotten.
This song is kind of like that. Every once in a while everyone needs a little encouragement – even crazy songwriter drummers. This is a little note to myself to remind me that I’m doing what I believe I was put here for.
I find that when I sometimes write a song that’s very personal to me, there are many folks who relate to my feelings and expressions as well. It’s one of the best parts of this job.
Question: There are two very different versions of "Man On The Run". There is the one on the album "Are You With Me?" that you play in concert with Cowboy Mouth, and then there is the version from your "Apples and Onions" solo album that you play in solo shows. Did you intentionally create that song to be so versatile?
JTG: No. I was trying to find a way to play it live, acoustically, by myself. And I just felt like strumming it really hard didn't hit the nerve like when the band plays it.
Years ago I went on an acoustic duo tour with Fred. I watched the way he took his songs and rearranged them, so that when he played acoustic, he did them a little bit differently. Not every song, but most of them.
I spent the whole second day of the tour in my hotel room rewriting everything in my set. I sat there all day and thought, "How can I redo this song? How can I make this more interesting? How can I make this more poignant?" I rearranged "Everybody Loves Jill", "Man On The Run", "I Know It Shows". It was a turning point in my acoustic life.
Fred: People always come up and tell me about either a song or a show that was a catalyst for something really great and positive that they either chose to do or that happened in their lives, which is always wonderful to hear. Anybody likes positive feedback. And the most positive feedback you can ever hear from somebody is not, "Oh I think you're wonderful." It's, "What you did or what this song said really made me look at things differently and made me want to do better." That's such a thrill. That's the best part of doing this, to be honest with you.
Matt: During this downtime, I am collaborating with various people. Buddies of mine who need some guitar on a track will send the files over. I will drop them into ProTools and start playing around with them. During the pandemic, everybody wants to connect somehow with people. And music seems to be a big outlet for that. So a lot of musicians are sharing these creative ideas, saying, "Hey, this is something I came up with. Do you think you want to put something on top of it?