Fred LeBlanc loves North Mississippi. Maybe it’s because it’s the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, a genre his band, Cowboy Mouth, has made its own by infusing punk and funk with it. Or maybe it’s because his wife is from North Mississippi.
Whatever his reasoning, LeBlanc can’t wait for the Tupelo Elvis Festival this weekend.
Lead singer and drummer LeBlanc and his band mates, Regina Zernay, John Thomas Griffith and Jonathan Pretus, are known for playing hundreds of rowdy shows a year, and the festival is just one stop for the New Orleans-based band.
“The Tupelo show is the beginning of a long summer tour. I’m very fortunate to have a job I love doing in this day and age, and it brings a lot of people a lot of joy,” LeBlanc said in a phone interview. “We’ve played the Elvis Festival before, and obviously, I have a pretty strong fondness for the area.”

Hail the King
LeBlanc said Elvis’ influence is undeniable.
“Elvis is the alpha and omega when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. Without Elvis, “you couldn’t have the Beatles. …You couldn’t have a Cowboy Mouth, and obviously not a Miley Cyrus or a Taylor Swift. I’ts all part of the musical, cultural lineage. People forget what a thunderbolt Presley was.”
What roads Presley tread before are what led Cowboy Mouth to do what it does best. The band has been performing its loud and rowdy rock since forming in 1990, and has seen success with hits like “Jenny Says” and “How Do You Tell Someone?”

Fun, joy, passion
After all these years, LeBlanc still relishes finding new fans.
“I always enjoy festival shows, simply because, not only are there more people there to see us do our thing, but it’s an opportunity to win over new fans,” he said. “It’s in my nature to say, ‘Put me in front of a bunch of new people, and, ha ha ha, let me see if I can get them.’ I enjoy the challenge.”
Cowboy Mouth is something to see live, LeBlanc said.
“It’s kind of like a revival without the religion. It’s all centered on having fun. Joy. Passion,” he said. “A Cowboy Mouth show is all about the joy of being alive.”
LeBlanc wants to spread the joy, and invites music fans to check out Cowboy Mouth at the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival.
“If you give us a shot, you just might see one of the most fun bands you’ve seen in a long, long time,” LeBlanc said. “Also, the lead singer is very fond of the great state of Mississippi – with good reasons.”

All shook up
– What: Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival at
– When: 5 p.m. Friday, Noon Saturday
– Where: Fairpark stage, Tupelo
– Cost: $15/day in advance, $17/gate
– Info: (662) 841-6598 or tupeloelvisfes-
– 5 p.m. – Jon McLeod
– 6 p.m. – Braden Land
– 7 p.m. – Rocket 88
– 8 p.m. – Nash Street
– 9 p.m. – Shannon McNally & Hot Sauce
– 10:15 p.m. – Robert Earl Keen
– 12 p.m. – Kevin Waide Project
– 12:40 p.m. – Just Playin’
– 1:20 p.m. – Cadillac Funk
– 2 p.m. – Stone Lizard
– 2:40 p.m. – Full Tilt
– 3:20 p.m. – Crashing Broadway
– 4 p.m. – Frankie & the Boys
– 5 p.m. – Cooter Brown
– 5:40 p.m. – Velvet Jones
– 6:20 p.m. – John Milstead
– 7:10 p.m. – Busted Screen Door
– 8:15 p.m. – Cowboy Mouth
– 9:30 p.m. – Paul Thorn

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio