Cowboy Mouth at the Compound Grill

Categories: Concert Review
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Benjamin Leatherman
The members of Cowboy Mouth perform at the Compound Grill in Scottsdale.
​The musicians of Cowboy Mouth didn't exactly have a most enviable task last night. A majority of the band (including frontman Fred LeBlanc and guitarists John Thomas Griffith and Jonathan Pretus) are proud residents of New Orleans and passionate supporters of the city's NFL team the Saints.

You know, the very same squad who yesterday battered about our beloved Arizona Cardinals and crushed the Valley's dreams of returning to the Super Bowl mere hours before Cowboy Mouth's show in Scottsdale.

So does that mean their performance was marred by distressed Red Bird fans who were demanding the heads of LeBlanc and his bandmates? Not even in the slightest. The sold out crowd of more than 400 seemed to put such feelings aside for the duration of the concert, forgoing partisanship for participation in possibly cone of the most fun and enegetic concerts I'd ever witnessed.

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Benjamin Leatherman
Guitarist/vocalist John Thomas Griffith.
​When music editor Martin Cizmar first asked me to review the show, I had my doubts. I figured that Cowboy Mouth was nothing but a mid-90s one-hit wonder (1997's "Jenny Says...") continuing to tour long after their heyday had waned. Then I did a little research and read up about how the band's live shows were akin to an almost quasi-religious journey of the soul, filled with a frentic energy and unparalleled fervor.

When I arrived at the Compound Grill in North Scottsdale (a music venue that's owned and operated by the folks behind the McDowell Mountain Music Festival), I discovered that description to be entirely accurate. A Cowboy Mouth show isn't just a concert, but rather an experience unmatched by your garden-variety gig. The band was a few songs into their set, blasting their way through "Walk Among the Angels." It was a massive party with the off-the-hook feel of a Mardi Gras celebration (albeit a few months early) complete with Cajun food getting served out on the Compound Grill's patio area.

LeBlanc, who was clad in a Drew Brees jersey (natch) was a sweaty, unhinged dynamo and he unmercifully pounded his drum kit and belted out vocals. About a quarter of the way through the concert, he had this to say for anyone who'd come out to the gig just to hear their signature song.

"If you're here just to hear 'Jenny Says...' and then pay the babysitter, leave now," he said. "Because we're gonna be here all night."

While they didn't play, all night, the roots-rock band certainly put in a long evening. Their set consisted of more than 20 songs and ran more than two hours. It included a majority of the songs that Cowboy Mouth fans have grown to love, including "Disconnected," "Belly," "Joe Stummer," "Crazy Bout Ya," and "Love of My Life."

They also performed "Everybody Loves Jill," a song that includes the a Cowboy Mouth tradition involving the audience tossing hundreds of red plastic spoons on the stage.

At one point, LeBlanc told John Thomas Griffith, Regina Zernay, and Jonathan Pretus to "rip the roof" off the Compound Grill, and believe me, they did just that...and more.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Cowboy Mouth at the Compound Grill.

Better Than: Watching the Cardinals get wasted by the Saints.

Personal Bias: Extreme and admitted, though totally justified.

Random Detail: Fred LeBlanc stated they'd be returning to Phoenix sometime in the next year.

Further Watching: The Name of the Band Is Cowboy Mouth, a 2007 documentary on the band and its fans.

By The Way: I heard some rather "interesting" rumors about this year's MMMF festival. More on that at a later date...

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