In 1981, John Thomas Griffith’s band the Red Rockers were hyped by some members of the underground music press as a potential American Clash. Twenty-five years later, Griffith cemented the connection by releasing a song called “Joe Strummer,” which pinned a failed relationship on irreconcilable music tastes: “She had to go because she didn’t know who Joe Strummer was.”
Between those two bookmarks of punk orthodoxy, however, Griffith’s career has taken some unpredictable turns. In 1983, he and his fellow Red Rockers made their pop move with “China,” one of those early MTV hits you haven’t heard in ages, but could probably sing verbatim if it popped up on VH1 Classic. After that band splintered, Griffith reconnected with his New Orleans roots and put together Cowboy Mouth, a rootsy collective that veers across the barriers between rockabilly, Southern funk, zydeco, and jam-rock.
It’s telling that Cowboy Mouth has already released four live records, in addition to a new, live DVD (The Name of the Band is Cowboy Mouth). This band’s raison d’etre is only clear on stage, when its unabashed showmanship convinces you that crowd favorites like “Jenny Says” and “Hurricane Party” are more than journeyman rave-ups.
Comedic enough to attract Ellen DeGeneres’s brother Vance (who briefly played guitar for the group) and rowdy enough to lure ex-Dash Rip Rock drummer Fred LeBlanc, Cowboy Mouth is a tireless bar band with a retirement plan. $12, 8pm Thu, Nov 29, Jack’s Patio Bar & Grill, 2950 Thousand Oaks,