Christian Serpas & Ghost Town
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Christian Serpas & Ghost Town

Mandeville, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999

Mandeville, Louisiana, United States
Established on Jan, 1999
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Christian Serpas and Ghost Town are a country band in a place not known for country music.

Mandeville resident Serpas grew up in St. Bernard Parish, minutes from New Orleans, the city famous for jazz, rhythm-and-blues and funk. But it was classic country by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Buck Owens and classic rock from Led Zeppelin to the Ramones that mostly shaped Serpas and Ghost Town.

"We were exposed to everything," the singer, guitarist and songwriter said this week. "We were hearing rock and Hank Williams and a little bluegrass, a lot of pop music and the New Orleans stuff. We like to think that we pull elements from all of it."

Ghost Town thinks of itself as a country band, but it makes its own kind of country.

"When we play 'Folsom Prison,' it doesn't sound like Johnny Cash," Serpas said. "But we hope that we have the same spirit that's in those early records."

Many concertgoers are surprised by Ghost Town's performances, Serpas said.

"People are like, 'Man, I hate country music, but I love what y'all are doing.' I tell them, 'Well, you don't really hate country music. If you like Ghost Town, you'll like Dwight Yoakam and the Derailers.'

"So we try to make Ghost Town the country band that we would want to see."

Even being called a country band, though, can be a disadvantage.

"A lot of people, when they hear 'country' pegged to our band, that turns them off," Serpas said. "But we don't play things you hear on the radio. We play the old things revved up."

Being a country band in an area that has few country acts has advantages, too. For instance, Serpas and Ghost Town — featuring guitarist George Neyrey, bassist Brian Broussard and drummer Jeff Oteri — have opened about 60 shows throughout the Gulf Coast for touring country stars.

"We've had some people say to us, 'Y'all aren't a country band, y'all are a rock band.' But if they see us open for Dwight Yoakam or Montgomery Gentry, they go, 'Oh, this is country with rock in it.' "

If Serpas' memory serves him well, Ghost Town played its first show April 1, 1999. Four months later the band won the New Orleans Jimmy Dean True Value Country Showdown.

Ghost Town soon opened for Randy Travis and Terri Clark. Through the years, the band also opened for headliners at Baton Rouge's Varsity Theatre, including Pat Green, Dwight Yoakam and Jerry Jeff Walker.

Many of the stars have been kind, Serpas said.

"We make it a point not to be the annoying opening act," he said. "I never go up to them, 'Hey, how you doing?' But several of them watched our set and told us they liked it. Those Montgomery Gentry guys, they've been really friendly. Blake Shelton was the same way. Merle Haggard was, too.

"When you're shaking Merle Haggard's hand after he just told you he liked what you did, it makes you think, 'Wow, maybe we're getting through.' " - Baton Rouge Advocate 6/8/07


Ghost Town wants a hit, but they want it their way


At a recent performance by roadhouse country band Christian Serpas & Ghost Town, an audience member shouted, "Black Sabbath!"
"I guess he thought we didn't know who Black Sabbath was," bandleader Serpas recalled. "We were doing a song with a section where we sometimes (improvise). So we went into the riff from Black Sabbath's 'Electric Funeral.' I think he was stunned."
Had he known Ghost Town's pedigree, the Sabbath apologist might not have been so surprised.
Serpas and his bandmates grew up on a steady diet of Hank Williams and early Elvis Presley, icons of the country/rockabilly canon. But they also rocked Led Zeppelin and the Ramones. Serpas took his first shot at stardom with True Faith, a rock band that paid its dues in Los Angeles.
"We come at country from a unique position," Serpas said. "There's a lot of rock in our country. Hopefully you can hear all the influences. When we play a Hank Williams song, it doesn't sound like Hank. It sounds like how Ghost Town hears a Hank song.
"A comment we often get from people seeing us for the first time is, 'I hate country music, but I love what you guys are doing.' It's obvious that they don't hate country music -- it's just that they've been listening to the wrong kind of country music. If you hear us and like us, then you're going to like Dwight Yoakam, too."
Christian Serpas & Ghost Town perform Saturday night at Carrollton Station. The show is a CD release party for the band's new six-song "Six Pack," and will also be recorded for a future live album. Opening the show is Ovis, the producer of "Six Pack"; he scored a minor pop hit in 1993 with "Regular Thang." Country cover band Louisiana Southern Junction closes out the night.
Serpas grew up in Arabi and graduated from Holy Cross High School. An inability to play others' songs spurred him to write his own anthems inspired by the Alarm, Big Country and other earnest '80s rockers. He formed True Faith in 1984, then moved with the band to Los Angeles. That proved to be their undoing; momentum flagged, True Faith broke up and Serpas came home.
After a hiatus, he took a spin around the Nashville singer-songwriter circuit, but found he preferred working with a band. He and former True Faith drummer Jeff Oteri began recording Serpas' country-leaning songs, and formed Ghost Town in 1999.
Original country music does not figure prominently in the New Orleans market, for good and ill.
"The positives are that there isn't a long line -- it's not like being a rock band in L.A.," Serpas said. "The negatives are there aren't a lot of places for us to play. A lot of 'country' clubs really want you to be a Top 40 band. Or they expect you to play the new Tim McGraw song, and that's not what we do.
"We've had people approach us and say, 'If you play 'Brown Eyed Girl' and these other five songs, we can book you at this club.' Well, that's not what we do. If it works, great. If it doesn't, we're going to go out with our boots on."
As evidenced by "Six Pack" and Ghost Town's two previous CDs, Serpas is in tune with country songwriting convention, churning out the clever word plays that Nashville adores, often gleaned from conversation.
"You hear it in your head and then you realize, 'Hey, that's not a song I've heard on the radio. I guess I'll write it down,' " Serpas said. "It's keeping your antenna up and being able to recognize when you hear something interesting."
His "Miss Maybe," the title character from a "Six Pack" song, may or may not evolve into Miss Right.
"I had an opening line about a girl that didn't like Hank Williams, and how that might turn a guy off," Serpas said. "So I tried to figure out how could he see a girl and instantly know she was in the same ballpark as him. Our T-shirts say 'God Bless Johnny Cash.' So I figured that if you saw a girl wearing that shirt, that tells you that she might not be Miss Right, but she might be Miss Maybe."
Ghost Town recorded "Six Pack" in the spring of 2005, with Rob Savoy, formerly of Cowboy Mouth, sitting in on bass. Hurricane Katrina's disruption delayed the CD's release. Oteri's home in Eden Isles flooded, as did bassist Jason Mancuso's eastern New Orleans home. (Mancuso subsequently moved to Florida; longtime Ghost Town fan Brian Broussard took his place.)
Guitarist George Neyrey's Metairie home survived relatively unscathed, as did Serpas' house in Mandeville. His parents, who lost their place in Arabi, now live with Serpas and his wife.
Ghost Town's circuit consists mostly of regional festivals, fairs and opening shows for Jerry Jeff Walker, Montgomery Gentry, Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton. They plan to continue to plug away, making their kind of country, hoping to land a song on the radio.
"Our goal is to be a one-hit wonder," Serpas said, only half-joking. "Give us one hit, and we won't complain. You'll see us at the casinos 30 years from now, with a big smile."
Will Ghost Town be the sort of band that refuses to play its hit?
"We'll play it twice," he said, laughing. "We'll open and close with the hit. For $100, we'll work your name into it.
"If we get on the radio, that's great. But we've been able to do it the way we've wanted to do it. We've been able to build and present Ghost Town as the country band that we would want to see." - The Times-Picayune 9/15/06


Discography

Electric Hoedown - Independent, 2001
Giddy Up - Ralph Records, 2002
Six Pack - Independent, 2006
Hoot and Holler(Live) - Independent, 2008

Open Road - Independent, 2011

Revved Up and Ready To Go - Independent, 2014


Photos

Bio

“They’re a twangified rock ’n’ roll
band. Like Led Zeppelin playing Johnny Cash.”

– Offbeat magazine


Christian Serpas & Ghost Town
are the sound of country music revving it’s engine. Blending the best elements
of classic honky-tonk country and scorching rock ‘n’ roll into their exciting version
of Americana roots music –what they call “Revved up Country music”.


Armed with six CDs worth of their
own catchy, memorable songs, plus their rip-roaring interpretations of country
and rock classics, Ghost Town have built a reputation as one of the Gulf
South’s best live acts, making new fans every time they hit a stage with their boot-stomping,
hip-shaking, high energy performances.


Ghost Town’s road has been
highlighted by many awards and accolades. The band, Christian Serpas (vocals, acoustic guitar), Jeff Oteri (drums, vocals), George
Neyrey
(guitar, vocals) and Don
Williams
(bass guitar, vocals) have performed
nearly a thousand shows, raising roofs from Texas to Nashville and everywhere
in between. They’ve done it all: clubs, fairs, festivals, casinos and concert
halls, along with dozens of TV and radio show appearances. They’ve landed songs
on Country Radio charts, and received honors from respected Louisiana music
magazines including Album of the Year, Musician of the Year, Male Vocalist of
the Year, and Top Louisiana CDs of the Year.  
   


Along the way they’ve shared
stages with everyone who’s anyone in country music (Kenny Chesney, Merle
Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Montgomery Gentry, Blake Shelton, Pat Green, Jason
Aldean, Zac Brown Band and over 70 others), winning over audiences everywhere
they go.

Christian Serpas & Ghost Town discography

Electric Hoedown – CD 2000


Giddy Up – CD 2002


Six Pack – CD 2006


Hoot and Holler: Live in New Orleans – CD 2008


Boot Stompin’, Hip Shakin’ DVD 2010


Open Road – CD 2011


Revved Up and Ready to Go – CD 2014


 (985)
892-6234         
www.csghosttown.com         
cpserpas@cs.com


Band Members