I didn't make it to the river this week. There just weren't enough hours in the day(s)! I did manage to do something just as good, if not better - I went to a Cowboy Mouth concert!
The Husband and I go see them whenever they're within driving distance. Luckily for us, they tend to come through town every six months or so.
It's not just the music, it's the show. Cowboy Mouth's live shows are a performance and a celebration. A celebration of music, of positivity and of life. Their front man is a stocky, vibrant, fireball of a man. As he puts it, HE'S the only one allowed to sit during the show - and that's only because he's also the drummer, and drummers have to sit. Audience members are exhorted, cajoled and occasionally physically pulled to stand, clap, jump and 'scream like you're five years old and nothing else matters'. As much as he's asking of you, he's giving back in spades. Fred works so hard that he's drenched before the third song. The energy in any venue that they play becomes so (positively) charged that it's palpable. People who've never met are so close that they're sharing sweat, and they're happy to do so.
The first Cowboy Mouth show that I saw was a loooooong time ago. A college friend dragged me to a POE concert. POE was a one-album wonder. I googled her just now, and can't even remember what her songs sound like. This particular show was in a large local outdoor venue. It was a 'radio tour'. A group of bands touring together. The order of performance denoted the band's current radio popularity / notoriety. This time around, Cowboy Mouth was after a (according to Fred) really-high-on-cocaine Brit-punk band, but before Better Than Ezra and POE. As far as I was concerned, the show was over when Cowboy Mouth finished their set. Fred had come off the stage to pull people to standing. He had climbed the lighting towers to liven up the crowd. Their brand of Louisiana rock set me alight and blew me away. I went out the next day to buy their album.
They've never let me down. Show after show. Year after year. Cowboy Mouth brings intense passion and joy to the stage no matter how small the venue or the crowd.
This week's show was just as wonderful as all of the other shows we've seen. I walked in excited to be there, but tired and stiff. I left there grateful, thrilled, exhausted and limp. I 'let it GO' as I yelled, sang, clapped and jumped. I thanked God that I am alive and that I am so blessed.
In the 16+ years that I've been going to see their shows, I've never stayed around afterward to talk to the band. It always seemed like it would be presumptuous on my part - why would I force strangers (that I pretend to know in my head) to smile at whatever nonsense reason I had trumped up to speak with them? This time felt different. I wanted to say thank you. I wanted a hug. Mission accomplished. Then I started babbling about the first time that I saw them, and Fred's eyes glazed over a bit... but he never lost his charm or his smile, and he made the time to accept the (fragile) bond that I was offering. THAT, my friends, is a Southern Gentleman. That is why fans of the band pay to see every show that they can. That is why the band is able to make a living doing what they love - the connection. Thank you, Cowboy Mouth! Thank you, Fred. I am glad to be alive, and you help me to remember that.