Why the Mighty Pelicans? For starters, the brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, the source for most of our musical inspiration. Second, we identify with the pelican’s vibe. Take a look at a pelican sitting on a weathered piling: old, wise, experienced, unconcerned with petty trivialities. Finally, pelicans love seafood just like we do (You ever see them fall from the sky with utter abandon into a school of fish? You ever see Johnny Blue eat a seafood platter? Or Kingfish throw down on a pile of boiled crawfish? ). That’s why we’re the Mighty Pelicans.
Back in the ‘70s, some of Baton Rouge’s best musicians, their brains addled by the events of that tumultuous decade, put together a crazy band prone to outrageous stage antics and satirical songwriting. Shotgun Leboa and the Livestock Show paraded their act, replete with wild costumes and ridiculous stage props, all over Baton Rouge and its hinterlands for a few years before dissolving into the haze of the 1980s. Though the Livestock Show elicited a lot of laughs, their solid musicianship and ability to play well together are what made their shows so convincing (take “Disco Sucks,” for example: yeah, it’s a funny commentary on the ‘70s disco scene, but, man, what a compelling groove!) . Evidently, the band made a lasting impression. Front man Mike DeBosier (“Shotgun”), guitarist Jeff Johnson, multi-instrumentalist Steve Hutter, bassist Doug Johnson, and drummer Kerry Blackmon (yes, the Mighty Pelicans’ bandleader and drummer) met in Baton Rouge in November 2012 for a reunion show at the Varsity Theater. One thing led to another, and the band was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. (To see the official document, on which appear both the words, “Shotgun LeBoa and the Livestock Show” and the official signature of Governor Bobby Jindal, is one of those visual experiences that throws you off balance.) Anyway, ain’t it cool to have a Hall-of-Famer in the band? Kerry “Kingfish” Blackmon moved to Austin in ’82, right after the Livestock Show’s heyday, and had he not, there would be no Mighty Pelicans. So, though it’s a little late in coming, your band-mates congratulate you, Kerry “Kingfish” Blackmon, and we can’t wait for our next gig.
It’s a question we get a lot, and it’s a hard one to answer for people not plugged into New Orleans and South Louisiana music. We’ve adopted the phrase, “New Orleans swamp rock.” We like it because our connections both to New Orleans and to rock and roll are obvious. And we love the swamp. But most of the time, here in Austin, that explanation doesn’t mean anything to anybody. So we probe for a connection: “You know, Gulf Coast rhythm and blues,” or “New Orleans R&B.” Most of the time, no response. So then it moves to name-dropping: Fats Domino, Little Richard, Dr. John, Rufus Jagneaux, Clifton Chenier, the Meters, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint. The Neville Brothers. And then, if we do find a common reference, we have to explain that we do not have a piano player. Or even a sax (well, sometimes). And that we’re not a zydeco band though we do take a zydeco approach to some numbers. And that we’re not a Cajun band though you may hear the influence of Cajun music here and there during a set. Our strongest influence is undoubtedly New Orleans, so let’s look into that. Here’s a link to a 9 min film by David Meirding called the New Orleans Sound—it falls short of painting the whole picture, but it’s a place to start. More on this later. http://vimeo.com/29352148