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Cowboy Mouth looks to the bright side for it's latest CD. 

Mouthing Off

Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth has his hands full. Not only is the band revving up for a month-long East Coast tour, but LeBlanc is also trying to move into new Uptown digs in his New Orleans hometown. The painter and electrician are bugging him for some answers, he still needs to meet with the finance folks, and the new place needs to be cleaned. Tack on an interview about the band and its new release, "Easy," and his schedule sounds a tad hectic. But LeBlanc is all cheer about his state of affairs.

"What do I have to complain about?" asks LeBlanc as he runs through his list of chores. "A lot of people these days really take the easy, negative way out. It's easy to bitch …. The hardest thing in the world is to be positive [and] to do the best you can."

This attitude shows up in much of the new music Cowboy Mouth will bring to Mayo Island Sunday, July 23. The Crescent City-based band hits on myriad human strengths and weaknesses in its music, but there's an underlying affirmation in many of the songs. LeBlanc, who sings, plays drums and writes songs for Cowboy Mouth, says he and mates Paul Sanchez, John Thomas Griffith and Rob Savoy had no musical agenda when they got together in the early '90s. But there was a hard-rocking, positive mood in the air.

"There was a state of negativity in music, and I guess it's come back around to where it's 'Everything Sucks…,'" LeBlanc says. "We just thought, 'Why don't we see what would happen if we took a more positive spin?'" He pauses and adds a slight disclaimer. "I mean, we're not Up With People or the Osmonds."

Cowboy Mouth's music could never be confused with such, as its new CD offers 15 distinctive variations on modern rock 'n' roll. Live onstage with his drums and antics out front, LeBlanc can come off as the focal point of the band. But on disc, lead vocals, writing chores and influences from each member carry more obvious weight, and since they all write songs, there's plenty for a producer to draw from. Griffith, Sanchez and LeBlanc write catchy, crunchy, stage-friendly rock, while bassist Savoy jumps in with three offhand snippets of Cajun Mardi Gras madness to perk things up. The overall effect hits a commercial groove that boasts plenty of big drums, guitars and upfront vocals. The project is the band's first for Atlantic imprint Blackbird, and after some unpleasant years on another label, Cowboy Mouth is pleased with the change.

"We're on a 'real' label now," LeBlanc says, with get-even glee in his voice.

As the current tour cranks up, LeBlanc remembers the band's formative days when he booked a string of North Carolina shows before the group's lineup was set. Fortunately, the band came together in time and Cowboy Mouth hit the road. A decade later, LeBlanc says it's still a matter of doing your best every night — and doing it for the right reasons.

"It's not what the world thinks," he says. "It's what you think about yourself."



Cowboy Mouth plays an all-ages event to benefit Stop Child Abuse Now with Sister Hazel, Pat McGee Band, Fighting Gravity and Peter Searcy on Mayo Island, Sunday, July 23, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $16 at the door or $12 in advance at Ticketmaster locations, or by calling 262-8100.
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