Sawyer Brown are set to Grand Marshall the Krewe of Orpheus’ Mardi Gras parade through the street of New Orleans on February 7, 2005. The annual party — one last great big blow-up and blow-out before the solemnity of Lent settles over the Crescent City’s predominantly Catholic population — attracts revelers from around the world, and will mark a first in the career of the hardest working band in country music.
“They say there’s only one Mardi Gras,” says the hyperkinetic Miller with a big smile, “and you know, if there’s only one, it’s human nature to kinda wanna see it. Anyone who’s ever come to one of our shows knows it’s all about how much fun we can have… so it seems like the perfect place for us to kick it out. And just in case there’s any question about the industrial strength nature of the good times we intend to throw down, know this, we’re coming loaded for bear.” Considering that a hard-boiled reviewer once wrote “If you can’t have fun at a Sawyer Brown show, you can’t have fun…,” there’s a good chance that the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Award winners will raise the bar on the good times that will be had by all. Having just ignited “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and melting down CMT: Country Music Television with their brand new video — featuring sacred steel sensation Robert Randolph — for “Mission Temple Firework Stand,” look for the band known for “Some Girls Do,” “The Dirt Road,” “Thank God For You,” “Hard To Say,” “The Walk” and unrelenting takes on the classics “6 Days On The Road” and “The Race Is On” to potentially have even more fun than the people they’re there to “reign” over.
“Hobie’s taught me just enough French to say ‘Let the good times roll’,” brags the man who’s been known to kick up a little dust on the stage. “It’s ‘laissez les bon temps roulez…,’ which is pronounded lay-szay lay bon tonmp rue-lay…’ And I’ve been told if you know that much, you’re good to go at Mardi Gras.”
As a reference, the Orpheus Krewe is one of the three biggest groups who mount events as part of the annual carnivale-type celebration that culminates in Fat Tuesday, which is the actual Mardi Gras day. Traditionally anchored by favorite native son Harry Connick, Jr., the Orpheus Krewe parade starts at the legendary watering hole Tipitina’s — where the Meters and the Neville Brothers have held down the night for years — and then winds down St. Charles Avenue to world famous Canal Street. Culminating at the Convention Center, the Orpheuscapade Ball is one of the most sought after invitations of the year — and only the boldest and most pronounced are capable of maintaining the moment.
“They told us that Harry Connick’s Far Eastern tour had extended and there was no way he could get back,” says Miller, “which is a shame ’cause from what I hear, this particular event is an extension of what he’s all about. We’re not suave like he is… We’re not GQ or smooth… What this band is IS a good ole fashioned good time, so we’re not gonna try to cop any of his moves. We’re just gonna come in, have fun, feed the momentum and hope that we can make this year as much as it can be even though their traditional host can’t make it.”
With “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” in meltdown rotation on CMT: Country Music Television and an appearance at the Ryman for the Grand Ole Opry on Feb.5, the year is gearing up to be full-tilt and hardcore for the little band with its roots in Apopka, Florida. As country radio embraces the Paul Thorn/Billy Maddox raver about a man who drops out of a major church to sell cherry bombs along with salvation, it’s fixing to be a year of big bang country for sure.
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