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.
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