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Exciting music acts coming to annual balloon race

Cowboy Mouth will be just one of the exciting acts to play during the 2013 Great Mississippi Balloon Race Festival.
Cowboy Mouth will be just one of the exciting acts to play during the 2013 Great Mississippi Balloon Race Festival.

Concertgoers at the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race this fall are going to be having a loud and raucous time.

The race committee has set the lineup for this year’s musical acts, and the headline act will be Cowboy Mouth.

Balloon race executive chair Babs Price said she knows a lot of people in the area are big fans of Cowboy Mouth and that she’s enthused the band will be the headliner.

“It has been a long time since we had them here, and we are really excited to have them back,” she said. “They are solid rock-and-roll — the first time I heard them, I thought, ‘Man, these guys are great.’”

Best known for their single “Jenny Says,” the New Orleans-based quartet has released eight studio albums and nine live albums or EPs and play approximately 200 shows a year. One band member has described Cowboy Mouth’s sound as being akin to what would result from the Neville Brothers and The Clash having a baby together.

Rock guitar virtuoso Anders Osborne will also play at the festival. Known for physical guitar playing and intense vocal performances, Osborne’s guitar solos can include simultaneous slide work and finger picking. The rock bluesman has played such venues as The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Bonnaroo, The High Sierra Festival and The Telluride Blues Festival.

“Anders Osborne is really awesome,” Price said. “He was here last year, and he is an incredible guitar player and he is a really great stage presence.”

For those who aren’t into rock and blues, the chart-topping country musician Neal McCoy will play a Sunday set during the race.

McCoy first hit the country charts in 1988, and had two No. 1 hits — “No Doubt about It” and “Wink”— in 1993, following the Top 40 single from the year before with “Where Forever Begins.”

His most recent hit, which peaked at No. 10 in 2005, was “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”

Price said the decision made five years ago to include a country music set at the balloon race has shown itself to be a correct choice.

“In the past, we have had all types of music, but it was predominantly rock and roll,” she said. “But everybody has got different tastes in music, and we are just trying to satisfy everybody. Most of the time, the college kids will come into town on Saturday for the rock and roll music, but most the time it is local people who come to the Sunday festival, and we wanted to have something for everybody.”

Other acts who will play the race include Shannon McNally, The Ramblin’ Letters, Red Hot Brass Band and locals Cheap Tequila.

Red Hot Brass Band — which formed in 2006 and is dedicated to making traditional New Orleans music — will be playing the festival for the first time. One of the band members, Doyle “Red” Cooper, has family from the Natchez area, Price said.

The Ramblin’ Letters is a New Orleans-based bluegrass quintet that plays both musical sets and performs a capella songs. The members play a range of instruments, including guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and upright bass.

Shannon McNally is a singer-songwriter who most recently worked with the legendary Dr. John to record an LP of songs written by the late Bobby Charles, who penned the hits “See You Later Alligator,” “Walking to New Orleans” and “But I Do.”

Jimmy McCarstle, who has produced the balloon race’s musical shows for several years, booked all of the musical acts.

“He has been a member of the crew for a long time, and he wanted to do this, and we gave him a chance a few years ago, and it has really paid off,” Price said. “He has brought some really good acts.”

Balloon race begins on Oct. 18.

For more information about the lineup, visit www.natchezballoonrace.com/music.html.