In North Texas, just east of Denton,Mingo Road meets Fishtrap Road at an intersection with a farm, a junkyard, and a beautysalon. It is here that Roger Blevins found a new tire, a slice of Americana, and theinspiration to name his band.
"I had a blowout and needed to replace the tire andremove the spare," said Blevins, leader and guitarist of the Denton-based band, MingoFishtrap. "The directions I got said this junkyard was on Mingo-Fishtrap Road, so Idrove around on this donut of a tire all through the country, trying to find the place. Ifinally came upon this intersection and thought what an unusual combination ofestablishments out here in the middle of nowhere. The name stuck with me andthats what I decided to call the band."
A nine-member band with horn section, keyboardist, andLatin percussionist is certainly an unusual combination in a music scene known for thestandard "bass and guitar" format. Mingo Fishtraps sound has beendescribed as soul, jazz, funk, blues, and rock, among other things.
"Our sound is hard to categorize. I would describe itas deep fried soul with 60s and 70s funk influences and a New Orleanstwist," said Blevins. The Louisiana flair comes from Blevins father, Roger Sr.,who spent time playing bass in bands around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and who has beena member of the current lineup of Mingo Fishtrap for seven months. The original lineup metin 1992 as students at the University of North Texas College of Music.
While the crowd at Antones this particular Wednesdaynight was not large, there were only about thirty in the audience, those that were therehad their heads bobbing and feet tapping. A typical Mingo Fishtrap show has a full dancefloor and an audience ready to soak up the energy being emanated from the stage. But thelack of active audience participation did not seem to dampen anyones enthusiasm.Throughout the show, the horn section pulled off slick choreography and mimicked lyrics,at one point jumping off stage and traipsing through the crowd, Mardi Gras parade style.
Covers of the Cajun classic, "Jambalaya (On theBayou)" and the 70s hit, "Pick Up the Pieces" from the Average White Bandwere there to get the crowd moving, but its their original pieces that reflect thebands tightness and ability to execute smooth transitions between genres. Like onthe tune, "People Person," Blevins delivered vocals ranging from smooth Texasblues through a rapid-fire hip-hop delivery.
References to the dream sequence in Oklahoma ("Oh,What a Beautiful Morning") and numbers paying homage to everyone from Otis Reddingand Wilson Picket to Cameo and Lauryn Hill made the show a mirthful overview of musichistory. Throwing in some vocal D.J. scratching and rap licks that would make Will Smithproud, Blevins provided the hub around which this ragtag crew revolved.
"Everyone in the band is real comfortable on stage.There are no pretensions going on. We are all just having a good time with it when we areup there," said Blevins when asked what made Mingo Fishtraps live show socaptivating.
"The best audiences for us are the ones that are herefor the music. They are the ones that know where we are coming from," elaboratedBlevins. "We had a great show opening up for The Dirty Dozen because they have such agreat following."
Blevins is the bands chief songwriter, but admitsthat the whole band contributes something unique to the finished product. "Thecollaboration process is great, but its crazy. I bring a song to the group andeveryone flushes it out. Eventually, it is totally different than my originalversion."
Mingo Fishtrap has one released CD, "Succotash,"that can be purchased on their web site www.mingofishtrap.com. Fans will be happy to knowthat new music might be in the near future.
"We have enough material for a new CD, so now we areweighing our options," said Blevins. Options shouldnt be too hard to come byfor this multi-faceted ensemble.
On That Note, I'm outta here......