Grazing with the Electric Sheep
One of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's beloved rock bands can trace its roots to a book club, of all things.
- Story and photos by Pat Murphy
Fast forward about ten or twelve years. I started hearing good things about a new band in the area named the Electric Sheep. I discovered that my architect friend, John Anderson, was a member of the band, along with a physician named Sanjay Chaube whom I did not know.
A short while later I began seeing the band billed as Phil "Smooth" Williams and the Electric Sheep. I knew from the music business that Phil Williams led the St. Rose Men's Gospel Ensemble.
Since I had been a member of the Men's Ensemble and worked with Phil in the ensemble for a period of time, I knew he was a powerful gospel singer and vocal force to be reckoned with.
Eventually Williams branched out from gospel looking for opportunity and started working with local bands like the Relative Unknowns (who were responsible for his moniker "Smooth") and later Jesse Loya and his band.
Eventually Williams found his way into the Electric Sheep.
Phil Williams performed with the Electric Sheep for a couple of years before being diagnosed with terminal cancer. He succumbed to the disease about a year ago. The band values their experience working with Williams for a time, and they continue to move forward, honing their skills and their sound, and just having fun.
Today, the Electric Sheep is made up of guitarist John Anderson, bass guitarist Sanjay Chaube, drummer Landon Parolli, and Parolli’s wife, Jamie, on vocals and harmonica. The band in its present form has been together for about two years.
Singer Jamie Parolli's vocals are deeply rooted in the female rock vocalists of the 1980s and 1990s, and she’s been influenced heavily by performers like Alanis Morrissette, Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar.
Songs from this genre play a big part in the Sheep's repertoire and are regularly included in the band's live performances. This band isn't timid about approaching other male dominated music like Nirvana and Gary Clark, Jr.
The Electric Sheep’s songlist also includes some classic rock tunes by the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Animals and Bob Seger.
The Electric Sheep can be seen live occasionally at Bacchus on the Beach in Pass Christian and the Beach Bar under the Silver Slipper Casino Hotel. If you get the chance, check the Electric Sheep out at one of their local gigs – you will be glad you did.
The Dock of the Bay
How could four walls, a bar and a stage mean so much to so many people? Real all about this fixture of the BSL collective memory.
- story by Pat Murphy
The Early 60s Music Scene in the Bay
Our local music historian waxes nostalgic about the Bay St. Louis of his youth, and how local bands influenced his life.
- story by Pat Murphy
Gal Holiday & The Honky Tonk Revue
This New Orleans-based Country/Rockabilly band that will be performing in Bay St. Louis on March 10th defies all stereotypes.
- Story by Pat Murphy
Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue will be performing at the 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis on Sunday, March 10, from noon - 4pm. Advance tickets are only $15 ($20 at the door). Buy yours online now.
This music would encompass the likes of Webb Pearce, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and George Jones. My Dad's family were rural farm people, and when I was a child he would sing me to sleep at night with old Jimmy Rogers songs.
Several months after hearing about Gal Holiday's performance at Jazz Fest, a number of us made a road trip to Ruby's Roadhouse in Mandeville to see the band perform live. Anyone who isn't familiar with Ruby's should know that it is a roadhouse in every sense of the word. That night at Ruby's I discovered that Gal Holiday was much more than Patsy Cline and that this band could rip through old honky tonk country and rockabilly music with the best of them.
About nine months ago I saw Gal Holiday (real name Vanessa Niemann) when the band performed for an open air concert series sponsored by the Pass Christian library. Though I wouldn't have thought it possible, the band was even more diverse at this event, performing a broad range of tunes from John Prine and Johnny Cash to Leona Williams.
I was extremely excited to learn that the band would be bringing its diverse brand of self-described "punkabilly music" to Bay St. Louis's historic 100 Men D.B.A. Hall on Sunday, March 10, at 1pm for a live performance. Tickets are $20.00 at the door.
The band was founded in 2004 by Vanessa Niemann, and their popularity has steadily grown with regular performances at clubs, roadhouses and concerts in the New Orleans area. The band is regularly featured at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. They continue to perform and tour both in the U.S. and abroad in Europe.
The Honky Tonk Revue is comprised of talented, seasoned musicians armed with powerful songwriting capabilities. The musicians who make up the band are as follows:
Vanessa "Gal Holiday" Niemann handles the job of bandleader and primary vocalist. She arrived in New Orleans in 1999 from the Maryland area and put this band together five years later.
Justin LeCuyer handles acoustic rhythm guitar and vocals for the group. He came to New Orleans in 2012 to explore the music scene and has been there ever since.
Corey McGillivary is the group's very talented Acoustic upright bass player, and she also sings background vocals.
The lead guitarist for The Honky Tonk Revue is Jimbo Mathus, who I really like because of his ability to play in that single picking country and rockabilly twang style of guitar.
Tony Frickey plays drums for the band and does a really great job.
When Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue roll into the 100 Men Hall, you can expect an afternoon of great old-style country music in the vein of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Leona Williams and Webb Pearce. Also look for a generous helping of the band's original material showcasing their individual songwriting talents. Armed with this kind of versatility, they put on a show that I promise you won't forget.
Their latest CD is entitled "Lost & Found." The band's performances never grow old and continue to delight everyone, from rowdy roadhouse two- steppers to new country music listeners as well.
While the music of New Orleans is most often thought of in terms of funk and jazz, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue continue to prove that the Crescent City always celebrates its musical diversity with a lot enthusiasm. Country music is alive and well, and you'll know it when you experience this band. I hope to see you at the show.
Monsters At Large
Some of the coast's top musicians come together in this band, beloved on the coast.
- story by Pat Murphy, photos by Ellis Anderson
The members of The Monsters At Large are Tommy Moran on guitar, Sam Brady on keyboards, Chuck Lofton on vocals, Casey Lipe on saxophone, Regan Taylor on bass and Gene Moran on drums.
Sometime in 1971 I was playing in Gris Gris and I became aware of another local band named Corruption. The guy on lead guitar was only about seventeen years old but already playing with the seasoned experience of a much older musician. The young musician's name was Tommy Moran and he was from Lakeshore.
It turned out that his family was very musical and that he had been playing from an early age onstage with his father and uncle in a country and western band named The Dixie Revelers. Tommy really made an impression on me and would become my friend and occasional bandmate from that point on.
Tommy and I would begin playing together when I was asked to join Corruption in 1973. Later we became known as Catahoula, traveling and performing together until early 1975 with Tommy always being the dominate musical force in the band. There was never any doubt in any of our minds that Tommy would go on to greater musical things.
By 1977, Tommy was on the road playing pedal steel guitar with country superstar Moe Bandy. This was during the height of the Moe and Joe (Stampley) "Good Ole Boys" popularity. He later toured with John "Rose Colored Glasses" Conlee beginning in 1985.
Tommy was also a member of Jerry Fisher's Dock of the Bay Music Company. Later he went on to record and tour with New Orleans superstar Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack for seven years. Tommy also served as staff guitarist and pedal steel guitarist at Bogalusa, Louisiana’s, Studio In The Country from the late 1970s through the 1990s.
The Monsters' saxophonist, Casey Lipe, lives in Oxford and is a graduate of the Ole Miss music school and studied jazz education at the University of North Texas. He is a member of the Ole Miss Jazz Hall of Fame. Casey has played since 1977 when he began playing with a band named Struttin' at Rossario's in Gulfport.
My first experience with Casey Lipe was when my friend George Reed brought him out to jam with my band at Bennie French's around 1980. We were playing country rock at the time and Casey was a jazz guy and so far over my head musically that he intimidated me greatly. He was a monster way back then and still is. I always enjoy hearing him play.
The keyboardist for The Monsters, Sam Brady, has lived and played in the Jackson (Madison) area since 1979. He has recorded and toured with R&B diva Dorothy Moore along with Jo-El Sonnier. In addition to playing gigs with The Monsters At Large, Sam plays with Mr. Sipp, "The Mississippi Blues Child.”
Monsters vocalist Chuck Loftin lives on the coast but began his career while living in Hattiesburg. He has worked with Rochambeau, Mutharoux, Chuck and Johnny's Spectacular and The Smoke Patrol, among others. Chuck's vocal talents bring to mind Gregg Allman and Joe Cocker, and he is a very popular, talented vocalist.
The combination of Regan Taylor and Gene Moran on bass and drums make up the area's go-to rhythm section. They play with everybody in addition to Monsters at Large. Regan began playing piano at 10, quickly branched out on guitar and bass and has settled in primarily on bass, although he is a talented keyboardist as well.
Regan grew up in Bay St. Louis and played with Shea Michael Ladner for a long time. One of the things I always enjoyed watching as he was coming up was how much his parents always supported him in his music. They would always be out there at his gigs, proudly listening and having a good time.
Gene Moran plays drums for The Monsters and although he is a pretty talented guitarist, the drums seem to be his forte. Gene is Tommy Moran's half brother and grew up within that same Lakeshore musical family background. Gene also played with Shea Michael Ladner for many years and performs with an abundance of different bands both alone and with Regan on bass.
One of Gene's real talents is his timing, which is really solid. That sense of meter coupled with the length of time that he and Regan have played together, equates to a quality, in demand rhythm section.
Although Monsters at Large prefer to work with the larger six-piece band, they do perform as The Chuck Lofton Band in a four-piece lineup with Chuck, Tommy, Regan and Gene. The Moran brothers along with Regan also perform with Hancock County's own America's Got Talent winner Michael Grimm whenever he does appearances here on the coast.
Whether it be the full Monsters At Large band or the smaller Chuck Lofton Band, this band always sounds great and has a good following. I strongly recommend that you check them out when you have the chance.
The BSL Trio
Veteran coast musician Pat Murphy introduces the three musicians who make up the hard-driving local band, the BSL Trio.
I had known drummer Jerry Lenfant since high school when he lived here. Though younger than me, Jerry was the younger brother of a close friend. Guitarist John Bezou and I go back to around 1980 when he began playing with me in The County Line Band. Jerry Lenfant also joined the band as drummer about 1983 when he moved back to the area.
The three of us along with my wife, Candy, played on and off through a succession of bands like The Juke Jumpers and the early Pat Murphy Band.
By the mid-1990s, John and Jerry had moved on and founded a band by the name of The Relative Unknowns. They both continued working together in that band for a number of years. In the later years of The Relative Unknowns, the band also included vocalist Phil Williams.
After disbanding The Relative Unknowns, Bezou and Lenfant would begin an association with bassist Ed Rafferty in 2012 and began playing occasionally at The Ugly Pirate shortly thereafter.
As I mentioned earlier, the trio started out billing itself locally as JJ & Mad Dog. One night fate intervened when, on a gig, a Bay St. Louis trash container was spotted with a BSL sticker on the side. The rest, ladies and gentlemen, is local music history. The name BSL stuck and the band has gone on to endear themselves with local and area classic rock music fans.
The BSL Trio specializes in cover versions of classic rock from Cream and Santana to The Doors as well as some of the blues rock of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
All three of the members of The BSL Trio are also active in other musical projects as well. John Bezou and Jerry Lenfant are both long time members of The St. Rose Men's Gospel Ensemble.
Bezou also continues to play with local R&B band 'Sippiana Soul as well as being involved with The Gulf Coast Jazz Society. Bassist Ed Rafferty continues to pursue his jazz roots and Berkley schooling as a member of The Dave Knorr Trio playing jazz as well as being involved with The Gulf Coast Jazz Society.
The three musicians comprising The BSL Trio are all fiercely proud of their status as veterans of United States military service.
The BSL Trio can be found most any weekend playing locally at Buoy's or The Mockingbird Cafe as well as The Blind Tiger in Biloxi, The Government Street Grocery in Ocean Springs or The Blue Crab on the lakefront in New Orleans.
The band served in an opening act capacity for The Glory Rhodes (a popular 1960s New Orleans Beatle-era band) at New Orleans' popular Rock'n'Bowl. The BSL Trio will also be playing at The Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale on Saturday, December 29th.
The Dave Mayley Band
In this new Shoofly Magazine column, veteran coast musician Pat Murphy writes about the local music scene - and kicks off by introducing the members of the Dave Mayley Band.
Mayley's also passionate about music and is the namesake and bandleader of the The Dave Mayley Band. The five-piece musical group is creating quite a big splash on the musical scene in Hancock County. Playing "Radio Rock Hits From The 1960s Forward,” the group proclaims itself to be a "true fun loving radio cover band.”
David Mayley has been dabbling in music since the age of twelve when he began playing drums in a "real garage band" named Black Granite. Later, in college, Mayley went on to play with Roger Dodger & The Darts, and he founded Kool Breeze in 2005. Kool Breeze would morph into The Dave Mayley Band of today.
The other member of Kool Breeze was Australian-born lead guitarist Richard Pohl. Pohl, another very talented multi instrumentalist, joined Mayley shortly after Hurricane Katrina and shares vocal duties with the other five members of the band.
Pohl covers songs from The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and beyond, while David sings rocking numbers like "Taking Care of Business" and "Wild Thing.” David and Richard also play in a Christian Rock ensemble for a weekly Sunday evening service at the Main Street United Methodist Church (162 Main Street) in Bay St. Louis at 6:30 PM.
Leslie Henderson began playing music as a young child both for her own enjoyment as well as in church, and she is also a multi instrumentalist. She has been playing with Mayley and Pohl for about five years. Currently she is playing bass and sharing vocal duties with the other members of the band.
Leslie's vocals include tunes by John Prine, Chrissie Hynde and Tommy James and The Shondells among others. She previously played in a bluegrass duo with Walt Moskal and continues to play Christian music at the Diamondhead United Methodist Church. She and husband Mark are the principals in Hancock County's successful Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company.
Keyboardist David Sallis was raised in Jackson and has lived on the coast for over twenty five years. He is a software engineer at Stennis Space Center. Sallis is another multi instrumentalist playing piano, cello and drums.
David has played keyboards with The Dave Mayley Band for well over a year and sings some of the band's more soulful numbers with his covers of Bill Withers, Dobie Gray and Ray Charles songs.
Rounding out the band is rhythm guitarist and vocalist Kevin Estrade who, although born in Gulfport, has lived in Bay St. Louis his whole life. Kevin holds a degree in theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi and is the branch manager of Keesler Federal Credit Union in Waveland.
An extremely talented musician, Kevin is on his maiden journey as a professional musician with The Dave Mayley Band. His vocal talents are utilized on songs that run the gamut from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Van Morrison and Tom Petty.
This band's repertoire encompasses straight ahead cover material from the 1960s through the 1990s. It's all middle of the road (MOR) FM radio rock which is always well received by theiraudiences.
The Dave Mayley Band is working a good bit locally, playing mostly private parties, weddings and concerts in the parks. The band also continues to be in rotation with several other musical groups playing in the new Beach Bar venue at The Silver Slipper Casino at Bayou Cadet.
The group is a true fun-loving cover band whose members all get along and complement each other's styles. Collectively, the band seems to aspire to nothing more than enjoying themselves while making music and improving their sound as they continue to play dates.
The members of The Dave Mayley Band all seem to stay so busy with family and business careers that they aspire only to make music whenever they are able. Their personal enjoyment along with that of their audience seems to be their main goal. This band plans on rocking Hancock County and the Mississippi Gulf Coast with their cover tunes for a long time to come.
The band has a Facebook page titled The Dave Mayley Band. Check the band out at one of their upcoming Silver Slipper Beach Bar gigs. David Mayley can be contacted at (228) 380-0285.
10/25 - Silver Slipper - 5:30 - 8:30pm
11/9 - Bay Town Inn, Five Year Anniversary and benefit for Brenda's House - 6pm - 9pm