“Maize”–An Interactive Art Piece with an Inspiring Message

If you’re in Davenport and looking for something fun to do with friends and family, head over to the Figge Art Museum sometime this week. The Figge’s most recent special exhibit is Jean Shin’s Maize, located on the third floor of the museum.

What Shin did with the help of hundreds of volunteers from the Quad City area was construct a three-dimensional maze made entirely of repurposed plastic bottles. You can actually walk through the maze and inspect the hard work put into reconstructing thousands of recycled plastic bottles close up. Viewing the piece in person is really amazing. It makes you feel proud to be part of the Quad City community.

The Figge Art museum is open until 9 PM on Thursdays, 6 PM Tuesday – Saturday, and 5 PM on Sunday. ADMISSION IS FREE FOR EVERYONE EVERY THURSDAY AFTER 5 PM!

If you want to see Shin’s Maize exhibit, you’ll need to stop in sometime this weekend because it’s only available until September 24th!

If you would love to take a look at the exhibit but have plans for this weekend already, keep reading. I’ve included pictures from the exhibit and an in-depth analysis of the piece (if you art nerds are interested.)

 

An analysis of Jean Shin’s Maize

Jean Shin utilized the used plastic bottles we would normally throw away to create a realistic maze. Suitably named Maize, this maze of plastic bottles is meant to be explored. Shin stacked and cut the plastic bottles to look like tall cornstalks—a realistic corn maze you might see on a farm. Shin also received help creating the work from hundreds of volunteers of the Quad City community. These volunteers performed a number of tasks including retrieving littered plastic bottles, gluing the stalks together, and cutting the bottles to appear like leaves. Visitors of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa are encouraged to venture through the short maze and make it to the other side. Maize, made entirely out of green plastic bottles on cardboard, can be admired from multiple angles because it’s designed in several three-dimensional chunks of stalks.

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An important element of art Shin utilized in her work Maize was color. In order for the plastic bottles to appear corn-like, she required all of the bottles to be stripped of any visible logos so the audience could clearly see the green color. By using only green bottles, not only does it help the viewer picture the stacks as cornstalks, but it also gives the work unity. Not one stalk or section of stalks sticks out in the piece. Because of the identical green color of every bottle, Maize looks and feels like a unified corn maze.

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The scale of Maize is critical to the viewing experience of the piece because the stacks are approximately the same size as fully grown cornstalks that we might see in a field. Anyone whose been to Iowa understands that the state is riddled with long, winding acres of tall, green cornstalks. A fully-grown stalk of corn is about five to six feet tall. Also, corn seeds are planted tightly together—leaving only a good five or six inches of space between each stalk. In order to convey the height and vastness of corn mazes, Shin stacked about nine to ten bottles on top of each other in tightly-packed groups to give each stack the height and mass of normal cornstalks. From a distance, one might even mistake the stacked bottles for a real corn maze. Only upon closer inspection is it clear that the stalks are made up of plastic bottles.

Line is another key element in Shin’s work because it illustrates the order and compactness of real corn mazes. Because Shin wanted to portray a realistic depiction of a corn maze, she decided to stack the plastic bottles in straight lines. Not only does stacking the bottles in straight lines illustrate a clear image of any cornfield, it also gives the piece a sound, orderly structure. If she decided to glue bottles on the sides of other bottles to create curly or unorderly lines, it would be more difficult for the viewer to recognize the piece as a corn maze. It would also be very challenging to navigate if it wasn’t constructed of straight stacks.

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When it comes to art, sometimes utilizing everyday items, especially items normally seen as garbage, can be a challenge. In order to create something beautiful out of ordinary elements, Shin combined the idea of cornstalks and recyclable bottles to make a grandiose piece of artwork meant for exploration. Shin’s use of color, scale, and line engrave an image and a belief into viewers’ minds—it’s a maze of corn. Aside from the piece being an actual maze people can navigate, its construction being heavily depended upon by volunteers of the local community brings admirers together. Maize is a very interactive piece with an inspiring message—we should recycle our sustainable resources. We might just come together and create something truly miraculous out of them.

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Irma Leaves Devastation In Its Wake

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Many buildings and streets in the Florida Keys have been severely damaged by Hurricane Irma. Photo found on Elite Daily.

Hurricane Irma, the monster storm that wrecked havoc in Florida and the Caribbean in August and September, left behind mountains of damage. According to The Weather Channel, “This is the first time on record two Category 4 landfalls occured in the continental United States in the same hurricane season, much less within 16 days.”

Lives and homes were lost, and now many people come together to rebuild and find hope.

A former Black Hawk College student and 15 year resident of the Quad Cities, Imon Ahmed, experienced Hurricane Irma from Orlando, as well as a Port St Lucie resident, Farida Chowdhury. Ahmed is the sister of current Black Hawk College Professor Ferdaus Ahmad, and Chowdhury is Professor Ahmad’s cousin. You can read about their experiences here. 

 

Quick Facts About the Storm

 

Places Hurricane Irma hit

Hurricane Irma barreled down on Cuba, Florida, Caribbean, St. Martin (Island), St. Barts, U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Anguilla, Leeward Islands, and British Virgin Islands, according to The Telegraph.  The hurricane also impacted some parts of the southeastern United States, namely the states of Georgia and South Carolina.

In particular, the island of Barbuda has been demolished by Irma. In a chilling report by USA Today, Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S., Ronald Sanders, said, “For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda.”

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Barbuda, after Hurricane Irma. Image found on Independent.
Death toll

A report by ABC News says that at least 31 people have died in circumstances related to Hurricane Irma in the United States. At least 24 people have lost their lives in Florida, four in South Carolina, and three in Georgia.

Al Jazeera says the death toll in the Caribbean has now been reported to be at 38.  

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A man in Havana, Cuba, wades through the streets after Irma. Image found on The Telegraph.
Wind and water levels during Irma

Winds from Hurricane Irma reached an astounding 185 mph in the Caribbean, according to The Weather Channel . And that wasn’t just a gust. The Weather Channel says, “it maintained those winds for 37 hours, the longest on record.”

The Weather Channel reports that in Ft. Pierce, Florida, there was more than 10 inches of rain, causing severe flooding in the area.

Additionally, Pine Hills, a suburb of Orlando, was hit hard on Monday, leaving residents with waist-deep water in their homes, prompting rescue missions.

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Miami streets flooded. Image found on The Telegraph.
Response to the storm

Responses to Hurricane Irma in the United States have been immediate and, for the most part, effective. Thanks to advanced warning and heavy evacuation orders, most were able to successfully prepare for this storm.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued emergency declarations for Florida, Seminole Tribe of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the White House website.

Additionally, Florida governor Rick Scott activated all 7,000 members of the Florida national guard for deployment. 

 

Recovery Efforts and Aftermath

 

Crews respond after Hurricane Irma

Millions of Floridians lost their power due to Hurricane Irma. With high temperatures in Florida, this could lead to a potentially dangerous situation. Fortunately, due to the persistent efforts of many workers, millions of homes and businesses have already had their power fully restored, according to the Florida government website.

Law enforcement individuals have been working tirelessly to ensure public safety after the storm. “The entire Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), approximately 1,700 troopers, is on 12-hour shifts,” says the government website.  

Additionally, over 9,000 members of the military went to Florida to conduct missions.

Also, countless devoted volunteers from across the country have assembled in Florida and other areas affected by Irma to offer support in any way possible.

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Doctors fly to Orlando, Florida to provide medical care after the hurricane. Image found on The Telegraph.
Search and Rescue efforts

The Florida Keys have been devastated by Hurricane Irma, homes and lives ripped to shreds by the massive storm. Search and rescue teams work continuously throughout Florida to make sure everyone is safe, but especially in the Keys, which took the hardest hit.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the New York Post that the USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Iwo Jima and the USS New York, were sent to the Keys by the U.S. Navy to provide support for search-and-rescue efforts.

The military also conducted missions by air to rescue Floridians, and emergency crews are working on land to search through the ruins of homes and buildings for people in harm’s way.

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The U.S. Coast Guard conducts rescues in Jacksonville, Florida. Image found on ArmyTimes.
Dangerous flooding in other parts of Florida

The Santa Fe River in northern Florida has flooded over in some areas due to Hurricane Irma. The now fast-moving river spilled over several major roads, closing many businesses because workers couldn’t access them. In High Springs, citizens were told to evacuate due to the Santa Fe’s flooding.

Fortunately, the river did not spill onto Interstate 75, which The Washington Post says is “one of only two interstate highways leading north out of Florida,” although it was extremely close to doing so.

Additionally, officials drove boats around the flooded areas, to keep an eye out for looters, according to the Post article.  

The city of Jacksonville is also experiencing massive flooding due to the overflow of the St. Johns River. Many other areas throughout the state are covered in water as well.

Despite the obvious risks of flooding, such as drowning, flooding also may lead to serious illness as a result of sewage contamination and/or chemical leakages, serious injury from floating debris, and severe damage to property, all of which those affected need to be aware of.  

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The Santa Fe River floods. Image found on The Washington Post.
Beware of carbon monoxide

Also dangerous and deadly is the use of generators in any enclosed spaces, such as in homes, where lethal carbon monoxide released will kill any breathing it in. Carbon monoxide has resulted in the deaths of at least six people in Florida so far after power loss from Hurricane Irma, according to an article at the Metro website.

Generators should be placed far away from the structure you intend to use them for. Always read the guidelines that come with the generator or call local authorities for suggestions on how far you should place the generator. The Metro article says, “The official advice is to place them outside at least 20 yards from the building.” Doing these things can save lives.

How You Can Help People Affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey:

Donate for Irma relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-irma-donations?campname=irma&campmedium=aspot

Donate for Harvey relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

Donate to provide clean water for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: https://www.gofundme.com/augustanawalkforwater  

Hurricane Irma Hits Close To Home

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Image found on NBC News website. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images.

Former Black Hawk College student and 15 year resident of the Quad Cities, Imon Ahmed, weathered out Hurricane Irma from Orlando. Additionally, Farida Chowdhury, who lives in Port St Lucie, took in her family, who were threatened by the brunt of the hurricane in Ft Lauderdale. Ahmed is the sister of current Black Hawk College Professor Ferdaus Ahmad, and Chowdhury is Professor Ahmad’s cousin.

 

Before It Hit

 

Imon Ahmed lives in Orlando, Florida and works as a Senior Manager of Finance at Brambles, Inc.. Ahmed has several family members and friends in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, Miami, and Tampa. Before Hurricane Irma battered Florida, Ahmed said that people either left their homes to stay with relatives or friends or in hotels, or chose to stay at home. Ahmed decided to stay at home, but was prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Farida Chowdhury lives in Port St Lucie and is a second grade teacher at Fairlawn Elementary in Ft. Pierce. Chowdhury’s family took shelter at her home because they were directly in the path of the hurricane in Ft. Lauderdale.  

Ahmed emphasized that communication about the danger of the storm by officials was excellent, which saved many people from danger. “This has been one of the most communicated natural disasters,” she said. “Media and local government did a phenomenal job in communicating information about Irma. As a result, casualty and property damages were at a minimum. People took mandatory evacuation orders seriously, which saved lives.”

Ahmed noted some steps local residents took to prepare for the storm, such as, “boarding up their windows, bringing in things from outside and putting sandbags in front of their property.” She also commented that residents made sure they had, “canned food, non perishables, water, batteries, generators” on hand.

 

During the Hurricane

 

In her area of Orlando, Ahmed experienced a category one hurricane with torrential rainfall and winds up to 80 miles per hour. Not surprisingly, Ahmed described the hurricane as “quite traumatic.”

Ahmed sheltered in her home as the hurricane raged outside, “It felt like everything surrounding the house was getting ripped off of the ground. It sounded like a freight train for 5 hours straight.”  

And that is just what a category one hurricane feels like. Ahmed said, “I can’t imagine what a level four hurricane would feel like. I hope I never have to find out. I think everyone who experienced Irma will remember that really scary and long night.”

 

Aftermath

 

Fortunately, Ahmed and Chowdhury and their families came out of the storm unharmed. However, property damage will take its toll on many local residents financially. Ahmed’s family wasn’t impacted by flooding, but they still suffered damage from natural debris, “Mainly lots of uprooted trees, damaged roof and windows,” Ahmed said. “I do not know of anyone who suffered flood damage. But there has been significant flooding in Miami and Orlando.”

Chowdhury’s own property was not damaged, however, her rental properties had downed trees and damage to fencing.

After Irma was gone, other problems arose in it’s wake. Ahmed commented, “Most people lost power, water and internet for several days. That was frustrating because of the heat and having no connectivity. We were under 24-hour curfew in Orlando to keep people safe and expedite clean up and rescue work.”

However, as in any disaster, people always come together to help each other out and join together to overcome any hardship that outside forces might place on us. After Hurricane Irma, the selflessness, courage, and love for neighbor that many people expressed to others was truly outstanding.

“Our community did a wonderful job helping each other with protecting the properties,” Chowdhury said. “Many reach out through religious networks.”

Ahmed said that the support from local government, law enforcement and the community has been extraordinary. “People are notified where to get help. Neighbors are helping neighbors. People are making conscious efforts to buy local to help out the local businesses that were closed for a few days and encountered significant loss.”

The company Ahmed works for, Brambles Inc., made efforts to ensure the safety of all its employees. Ahmed said, “My company sent communications to all employees to find out if they needed help of any sort.”

For more about Hurricane Irma, stay on the look-out for an upcoming article with information on the storm.

How You Can Help People Affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey:

Donate for Irma relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-irma-donations?campname=irma&campmedium=aspot

Donate for Harvey relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey

Donate to provide clean water for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: https://www.gofundme.com/augustanawalkforwater

College Night Coming Up at QC Campus– Quick Facts You Need to Know!

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Students attend College Night. Image courtesy of Black Hawk College.

Get ready for Black Hawk College’s 46th annual College Night!

College Night is a free event at the Quad Cities campus that will take place on Thursday, September 28 from 5-7 p.m. in the gym in Building 3. Students will have the opportunity to speak individually with representatives from a host of public and private colleges and universities.

According to Gabriella Hurtado, Recruitment Coordinator for Black Hawk College and host of the event, College Night is one of the largest events on campus. Looking back at the past few years, this event has averaged around 400-500 students. If you are a student who plans to transfer, if you are undecided, or if you would like more information about other colleges or universities, College Night is for you.

 

How many schools will be there?

 

According to Hurtado, there are 75 schools that have signed up for College Night so far. Schools invited include both four-year institutions and technical schools. For a full list of schools attending College Night, please visit this page. Since so many colleges are gathered in one place, this event is perfect for busy students who may not be able to go far away to visit all the schools they are interested in.

Additionally, if you are looking for tips on how to manage your finances, financial representatives will also be attending this event. “If students are looking for student loan options, if they’re looking to open up their own checking or banking account, we invite a few different financial institutions,” says Hurtado.

Also attending are the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) who specialize in financial aid, as well as Career Cruising, and Quad Cities Career Connections, who assist students in their career search and help students complete job-shadowing experiences.

About seven to eight Black Hawk College departments will be attending so far, such as Engineering Technology, and Nursing.

 

What kind of information can I gain from this event?

 

“It’s a nice opportunity for students to get information about the admissions process, especially if they’re transferring,” says Hurtado. “They can talk about scholarships, they can get on mailing lists for some of those schools.”

Even if you know exactly which school you want to attend, College Night is a great opportunity to learn more essential information about that school. “Get on the mailing lists,” Hurtado encourages students. “Fill out the inquiry cards that a lot of the reps have, so that way you can start receiving notifications about when you should be applying as a transfer student, scholarships, things like that.”

Additionally, if you are undecided in what field you want to major in, this event is an excellent way to explore the programs that different colleges offer.

 

Should I bring anything with me?

 

Representatives from Black Hawk College will be at the event to help students organize common questions they may have. They will hand out a list with some typical questions to have on hand during the event. These lists include tips on how to approach a representative of a school you are interested in.

Students are also given a paper listing the colleges and which row they’re located in before they walk into the gym. “They can start highlighting the top schools that they want to go to,” says Hurtado.

Students are welcome to bring family members or friends with them.

Also, Whitey’s popsicles will be available for students to enjoy on their way out of the event.

The Emoji Movie: Sell-Out of The Century

 

SPOILER WARNING

That’s right. It really happened. Sony pictures made an animated movie about emojis. If you’ve been scrounging the internet in search of saucy reviews, odds are you know by now that The Emoji Movie is bad. Really bad. In fact, so bad that it’s one of the lowest rated movies on sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, despite its 50-some million-dollar budget. I mean, for crying out loud, it’s a movie about emojis. How good can it be? Despite the negative criticism, the movie actually made a decent profit. It’s hard to believe that a movie about emojis could manage to round up hundreds of millions of dollars, but it did. After watching the movie myself, I can honestly say that it deserves the ⅕ stars, 2/10 stars, and measly 5% and 12%’s it’s been getting from critics around the world. Let’s take a minute to analyze the awfulness that is The Emoji Movie, as well as its undeniable success.

Sensibly named The Emoji Movie, this film revolves around the life of a “meh” emoji named Gene. He lives in Textopolis–a technological city full of unique and diverse emojis. The hubworld of Textopolis exists inside of a smartphone–more specifically, the smartphone of a young boy named Alex. In the movie, there are two different stories being told; the story of Gene and his struggle to conform to the expectations of society while also trying to discover his identity, and the story of Alex and his struggle to sum up the courage to talk to his crush Addie.

The movie seems pretty reasonable, right? Well, maybe at first glance. The arguably worst part of the movie is the upfront, uncensored display of advertisements.

Throughout the movie, Twitter, Candy Crush, and the Just Dance app are only a few uninhibited product-placements to be found. They’re actually more than product placements, they really are full-fledged advertisements. The Twitter logo has the capacity to assist Gene in his endeavors by flying him from destination to destination. Gene and his friends Hi-5 and Jailbreak engage in an unplanned playthrough of the Candy Crush game–with the logo looming above them the whole time. Gene and his friends also somehow manage to wander through the Just Dance app, and sure enough, their ridiculous heads are blown up onto the dancers while they boogie happily to the licensed music.

If that doesn’t paint a bad picture for a movie, I don’t know what does. Unfortunately, that is one of the movie’s greatest downfalls–the advertisements. Product placements and advertisements should come few and far between when it comes to big production films, but the level of “selling out” in this movie gets to be too much for a mature audience to tolerate. Advertisements always manage to take the audience’s focus away from the movie and onto whatever product is being advertised. You shouldn’t have to go to a movie theater and wind up paying money to watch commercials you’d normally have to sit through at home. We pay good money on theater tickets and overpriced popcorn to sit through 90 minutes of commercials.

While the advertisements play a large role in the movie’s failure to entertain audiences, there’s actually another underlying issue with the film–its message about the role of utilizing emojis to express feelings.

I usually hate spoiling movies for people, but let’s face it, did anyone think for a second that this movie would have an melancholy, surreal ending for Gene and Alex? No? I didn’t think so. In the end, Alex finally talks to his crush Addie. She texts him a question, to which he responds with an emoji. The concerning part of this exchange in texts is what Addie says in response to Alex’s emoji. Instead of losing interest in a person who mainly expresses himself through the use of emojis in order to simplify conversation, she actually applauds him and says something along the lines of, “Wow! You really know how to express your feelings”.

This is not a good message for the children this movie is targeting.

The sole purpose of an emoji is to simplify the conveyance of feelings, not explain them. Emojis are easy to text back and forth because it’s both simple to understand and to text. It just takes a second to select and send a happy emoji compared to a full five seconds to text “I’m feeling great today!” Much in the same way, language is something that has to be analyzed to fully understand. Sometimes people have a hard time reading a text and understanding what the person means by it. It’s much easier to understand a happy face emoji than it is to understand a well-thought sentence explaining the complex way someone feels at any given time.

Ultimately, that’s why The Emoji Movie made so much money–it sold itself out to trends.

Emojis, Twitter, and Candy Crush have been popular for a while now, and they’re likely to stay that way for some time. The sad truth is that a major motion production is more likely to get money off of spending minimal amounts of time making a movie based on a trend than it is by developing intricate characters, complicated story lines, and concise plots. The risk is in the complicated and subjective movie, not the sell-out, trendy movie. The profit is already there, why not capitalize on it?

Movies like The Emoji Movie are always going to exist. Let’s face it, they’ll never be good movies until the people in charge of producing them attempt to build on characters and stories. Unfortunately, the simpler the product is, the easier it is to market.

Additionally, just to set things straight, if you use emojis frequently when you text your friends and family, that doesn’t make you a bad person. If anything, it makes you a culturally-aware subject of our society. It also means you don’t like to waste time! Where we should draw the line is the point at which we as a society accept emojis as a conventional display of our emotions. As coexisting human beings who text every day, we need to retain that essential, humanistic tendency to explain our most complicated feelings to one another in our own language–words.

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The Name of the Band is Cowboy Mouth

The best live show you will ever attend.

 

Have you ever gone to a live show of a band that you really like, but left disappointed, thinking the live performance just didn’t sound as good as the music recorded in the studio? Or maybe the concert was all right, but somehow it felt impersonal, like you were expecting the musicians to interact more with the audience?

When you attend a Cowboy Mouth concert, you will never experience these letdowns. Cowboy Mouth truly thrives in a live setting. This band works hard to make sure that every fan, at every concert, is having an amazing time. On August 26, I attended their concert at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. This concert was a whole lot of fun and an all-around amazing experience.

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Fred LeBlanc, leader of Cowboy Mouth, at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.

Who is in the band?

 

Fred LeBlanc is the head of the band, lead vocal, and drummer. LeBlanc’s singing while drumming is one really fantastic aspect of the band that sets it apart from others. This unconventional style, along with his high amount of crowd interaction, successfully adds loads of energy to the performance. I was grateful to be able to interview Fred at the Navy Pier concert, and that interview can be found in this earlier post. One of the guitarists of the band is John Thomas Griffith, a veteran member of Cowboy Mouth. The bassist is Brian Broussard, and the other guitarist of the band is Matt Jones.

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John Thomas Griffith, Cowboy Mouth guitarist, at Navy Pier.

What genre of music do they play?

 

Cowboy Mouth is a rock band that, according to their website, incorporates punk, blues, and their New Orleans roots into their music.

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Brian Broussard, Cowboy Mouth’s bass guitarist, before the Navy Pier concert.

Where is the band from?

 

Formed in the 1990’s, Cowboy Mouth is proudly from New Orleans, Louisiana. They often refer to New Orleans multiple times throughout their shows, as they did at the concert I attended.

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Brian Broussard, bassist, and Matt Jones, guitarist, rocking the stage at Navy Pier.

Some significant accomplishments of the band?

 

Cowboy Mouth is well known for their high-energy, entertaining live shows, which incorporate a lot of crowd involvement. So far, according to their website, Cowboy Mouth has had over 2,500 concerts.

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Cowboy Mouth fans at Navy Pier hold up red plastic spoons for the song “Everybody Loves Jill.”

Names of a few popular songs?

 

A couple of their songs include “Jenny Says” and “Everybody Loves Jill” (during which the audience throws red plastic spoons at LeBlanc). To listen to some of their songs, you can click on the links found at the end of this article.

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Younger audience members at the Navy Pier concert got to go onstage and try out the drums.

What makes Cowboy Mouth so unique?

 

The level of crowd engagement is what makes this band really entertaining for fans. For example, at the concert I attended, they added some humorous commentary about a classy party that was going on upstairs in a nearby building at the time. LeBlanc suggested that when a song started, we all scream as loud as we could so the people at this party could hear us clearly.

Sometimes, LeBlanc will even pick out specific members of the audience. At the Navy Pier concert I attended, he called out some kids and they got to go up on stage with the band and play the drums during “Jenny Says.” This was really neat because it’s not often a band will interact with an audience that much. This no doubt created an awesome memory for the kids.

A longstanding tradition during a Cowboy Mouth concert, the audience throws red plastic spoons at LeBlanc while John Thomas Griffith sings “Everybody Loves Jill.” After you listen to the song, you will know why. Also, at the Navy Pier concert, LeBlanc had a bunch of drumsticks next to the drums and he will throw these for the audience to catch several times.

And, of course, LeBlanc repeatedly calls out the famous question that every Cowboy Mouth fan everywhere knows the answer to: The name of the band is…? Cowboy Mouth! Often this is said several times in a row, like a chant.

Most importantly, Cowboy Mouth is one of those bands that brings people together. At their concerts, people can just let loose and have a good time. This is reflected in the band’s song choices, such as the unexpected inclusion of selections that everyone knows, like “Amazing Grace” and “You Are My Sunshine”, both of which were performed at the concert I attended. Their great song “I Believe” also really exemplifies this concept of bringing people together.

The concert was a fantastic, moving experience and I would highly recommend seeing them.

To hear some of Cowboy Mouth’s music, feel free to click on the following links:

“Jenny Says”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mm0KFOq9ag.

“Disconnected”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnMH9ko6EI.

“Everybody Loves Jill”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlcIJWWLbEk.

“I Believe”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWYXHSfguzc.

Q & A with Fred LeBlanc, leader of the band Cowboy Mouth

 

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Fred LeBlanc, leader of Cowboy Mouth, at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.

Cowboy Mouth is a rock band that, according to their website, incorporates punk, blues, and their New Orleans roots into their music. With loads of entertaining crowd interaction and a high level of energy with every performance, Cowboy Mouth is truly one of the best live shows you will ever see.  

Cowboy Mouth is headed by Fred LeBlanc, who is lead vocalist and drummer. What’s unique about that is LeBlanc plays the drums as he sings, something rare in the music scene. He also incorporates a lot of interaction with the audience into his performances, making for a truly exciting concert that fans want to attend again and again, because every concert is different.

On August 26, I attended a Cowboy Mouth concert at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. The concert was a blast, and I got the chance to meet all the band members and interview LeBlanc before the group’s  performance. Below are the questions I asked him, and his answers.

EB: “When did you first start mixing your singing with your drumming?”

FLB: “It’s always come to me. It all came to me at once.”

EB: “That’s amazing.”

FLB: “Thank you. I was very lucky. The old story is that I was born deaf because of some deformities in my ear, and they couldn’t operate on me because my lungs weren’t fully  developed. So, my folks laid my head on stereo speakers when I was a child in order to get me to hear something, and I could actually sing before I could talk. At least that’s what my family always told me.

And so when they fixed my hearing when I was three, it was like it all just kind of came back easily.

EB: “That’s really interesting. So what inspired you to begin your music? Who would you consider your biggest inspiration?”

FLB: “Oh, I don’t know. It’s always just been in there. It’s something I kind of knew I was going to do. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be happy, I’ll put it that way. I could’ve done other things– you know, I was going to be a commercial artist when I was a kid, because I could draw. And my parents thought that would be a “respectable” career.”

EB: “I want to be a writer, so I know how that feels.”

FLB: “Oh, yeah, I know, I do too. But, see, I noticed that every time I finished a picture, people would say, ‘Well, that’s nice.’ Every time I finished a song, people would be like, ‘That’s awesome!’ You know, girls would come around, and I’m like, ‘I like this job better. This job’s better.’”

EB: “There you go! That’s awesome. Do you have any favorite moments when you’ve performed live?”

FLB: “Always.”

EB: “Any favorite shows?”

FLB: “The next one.”

EB: “I’m looking forward to it.”

FLB: “Me too. This should be interesting.”

EB: “The last question is did you get your instruments back in Memphis? The ones that were stolen?”

FLB: “No, we did not. But, fortunately, we have insurance. So, you know, it should all work out. We’re working on that now. I was really surprised by all the good will. It was around the country, everybody knew and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ That was really great.”

EB: “That’s really inspiring.”

FLB: “Yeah. It was really nice to know that people care that much. Sometimes you forget. You forget that what you do does have an effect on people, even if you don’t realize it.”

EB: “Yeah. That’s one thing I love about this band, it just brings everybody together. It’s just really cool– I love it.”

I will post again with more background of Cowboy Mouth and the concert I attended, so be sure to keep on the lookout.

To hear some of Cowboy Mouth’s music, feel free to click on the following links:

“Jenny Says”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mm0KFOq9ag.

“Disconnected”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnMH9ko6EI.

“Everybody Loves Jill”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlcIJWWLbEk.