Murphy's Musical Notes - September 2019
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
Some years ago (before Hurricane Katrina), I worked as a sales representative for a line of windows and doors, calling on a lot of architectural firms. John and Allison Anderson happened to be among my customers and even employed my windows and doors in their personal residence.
One day I happened to be at the Anderson residence talking to John, and I noticed a set of drums and a bass guitar in his living room. When I asked about this, John told me that he and his kids played some at home.
The story of The Electric Sheep's foundation and growth begins with a wives' wine and book club that met periodically. While the wives enjoyed their wine and literary discussions, some of the husbands (John Anderson included) gathered at another residence, playing instruments and jamming together, working up songs. From these humble beginnings, a band grew from there.
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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.
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.