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Shine on Natchez: Bishop Gunn brings new fans to Natchez

NATCHEZ — When hometown band members Bishop Gunn returned to Natchez last weekend to host the band’s second-annual Bishop Gunn Crawfish boil, locals were not the only ones who turned out for the show.

The band brought with them fans from around the world they had gained on a recent European tour with Slash, lead guitarist for the American rock band Gun N’ Roses.

The Crawfish Boil brought crowds ranging from locals who have been “Gunners” (Bishop Gunn fans) from the beginning to people who recently discovered the band and traveled from as far away as Canada, London and Sweden to see the band perform in their hometown.

Even with the rise in recognition, however, the band members said they haven’t forgotten where they first cut their teeth.

“We are really very humble to be in the position we are in right now,” said Ben Lewis, Bishop Gunn bassist, “and very grateful for all the support, especially from our hometown. We haven’t forgotten our roots.”

Bishop Gunn’s recent European tour brought along many firsts for the band, Lewis said, including going from sharing a 15-passenger van to flying to Europe and being picked up in a double-decker bus.

Drummer Burne Sharp said every night on the European tour brought the band members to a different culture and a new language.

“Crowds are insane over there,” Sharp said of European audiences. “At a concert there, it is not a common thing to talk and socialize. They watch the show like you’re at the movie theater.”

Sharp said that during the band’s shows throughout Europe when he raised his hands to get audience members to clap, he got 10,000 people to clap with him immediately.

By the end of the tour, however, Sharp said he was looking forward to coming home and having a double bacon cheeseburger.

“It’s so much more comfortable to come home,” Sharp said. “It’s always good coming back to Natchez, and we try to get back as much as we can.”

Bishop Gunn’s dedication and connection to Natchez is evident beyond just the band holding the annual crawfish boil in the hometown. The band named their 2018 debut album “Natchez,” and the band’s logo is based on the sacred fire symbol from the Natchez Native Americans. The band also has filmed music videos that featured scenes around town with local Natchezians.

Even the band’s name pays homage to Natchez, as “Bishop Gunn” is the name of Catholic Bishop John Edward Gunn, who is buried in the Natchez Cemetery.

“We’re blessed to be from here,” Sharp said, “but there is no better fun than playing right there, though, with the river, the sunset and our people.”

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