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"Say Yes Now, Then Figure It Out Later"

For the past two years, the prolific Georgia-based performer has been a member of Cowboy Mouth, the rollicking Louisiana-based rock and roll band that routinely sings the praises of New Orleans. From originally finding inspiration to perform at a Melissa Etheridge concert in the early ‘90’s, the multi-instrumentalist has truly come full circle. Starting from her home near the Crescent City and then heading to the acoustic mecca of Atlanta and back, her journey as a solo artist and a member of one of Louisiana’s best-known bands is an organic one. Tetlow simply sees both jobs as a way of performing live and sharing songs.

“Music is a live art form, it has to be shared,” she says recently, relaxing at home in Atlanta on a rare day off from the ‘Mouth’s rigorous touring schedule. “If you think about it, back to the troubadours, way before recording, there was just the live performance. It’s all they had. It’s not like a painting, where you can paint something, hang it on the wall and have people look at it for 100 years. If you write a song and you want people to really hear it, you have to go out and sing it. That’s it. You have to go out and play the music. That’s what Cowboy Mouth does. And that’s what I love to do, too.”

Cowboy Mouth has been playing since the late ‘80’s, formed from the ashes of Louisiana’s Dash Rip Rock, another high-energy, roots-rockin’ outfit. With charismatic leader Fred LeBlanc on drums and vocals, the band, including guitarists Paul Sanchez and John Thomas radiate a crowd-pleasing, year-’round Mardi-Gras vibe. And now the effervescent Tetlow is among the ranks. “It’s an honor,” she says proudly.

When her long-time friend, Cowboy Mouth bassist Mary LaSang had to leave the band for personal reasons, she called Tetlow and asked what she thought about playing the bass. “I said ‘What do you mean?’” recalls Tetlow, who owned a bass but had never played one with a band. “Then I said, ‘Let me play along to the album and see how it feels.’ She said, ‘Good, Fred is coming over tomorrow,’ So Fred came over to the house and we jammed on the three or four songs I’d learned that night. You know how it is with a rhythm section, it’s more about if it clicks or not. And it felt really good to me.”

LeBlanc said they were auditioning different people and planned to bring her to New Orleans in a month or so to audition with the whole band. “I said ‘Great, it’ll give me a chance to learn the CD,’ Two days later, I got a call from him: ‘Can you play Friday in Biloxi? I said “Yes, absolutely.’ They sent me a setlist, I learned the songs and that was it. I was in the band! I learned to just say yes, then figure it out later. That’s my new mantra,” she laughs.

“I jumped in and learned a bunch of songs,” she continues. “I was a little stressed out at the beginning, but once I got onstage it was fun. The stress was all in my head, as it usually is. You just gotta do it.”

The first show Tetlow played with Cowboy Mouth was in November of 2004. Now, less than two years later, she’s a full-fledged member with writing credits on the band’s new Voodoo Shoppe, a fiercely rocking blast of an album, produced by veteran heavy-weight Russ T. Cobb.

She quickly waves off the importance of an “album tour.” “A recording is great,” she smiles, “You can have it for when the band isn’t with you, but it’s not the same thing. We’re musicians. We play music. That’s what we do.”

While on the road doing what they do, Tetlow found time to write the majority of her recently-released solo album From A Seed Of Sand, her eighth release. “I’d written one of the songs before I joined, but the rest were done on the road, over the last year or so,” she explains. “We’re in that bus so much, there’s plenty of down time.”

Often working quietly while the rest of the band slept, Tetlow said she’d retreat to the rear of the bus to have a bit of privacy and solitude. “I’d strum and play kinda quietly and then the songs would come from that.”

The exceptional album retains the hushed tone of early morning conversations and late night confessions, offering simmering and intense vignettes from her fertile imagination. It’s not as blatantly loud and edgy as some of her previous work credited to STB (and yes, that stands for Sonia Tetlow Band). “It’s like that line Bono sang on Joshua Tree: ‘Talk without speaking/ Cry without weeping/ Scream without raising your voice.’ That’s what I was trying to do.”

And she succeeded, making a perfect bookend for the raging rock of STB’s remarkable Spit, yet losing none of the immediacy of her incendiary solo performances. “When I go on the road, I have Spit and the new one with me, “ she says, “If you are interested in me as an artist, it’s good to have both sides because both are me. When I do a solo show, if you’re just expecting mellow, you’re going to be disappointed. And if you’re just expecting edgy, then you’re also gonna be disappointed.”

The mellow but anxious Sand balan - Georgia Music Magazine by Lee Valentine Smith


HERMAN PUT DOWN THE GUN, JOEL SEIBEL, MIKE KENNEBREW Tonight, after performances from singer/songwriters Seibel (7 p.m.) and Kennebrew (8 p.m.), comes the debut of a brand-new band with three familiar faces. Multi-instrumentalist Sonia Tetlow, newly emancipated from the constraints of her Cowboy Mouth bass duties, has created the monster trio Herman Put Down the Gun to showcase a batch of new songs. Joined by frequent collaborators Linda Bolley (drums) and Lee Kennedy (bass), the rock-injected results should be equally emotive and energizing. Be there to witness a new phase of Atlanta music history. $7. 7 p.m. Red Light Café. 404-874-7828. www.redlightcafe.com. -- LVS - Creative Loafing

"Record Review - SPIT"

"Those who missed the late-70's and early-80's explosion of often exhilarating alternative music - then called punk although in retrospect it wasn't all that punky - can relive those heady years when listening to this incredibly accomplished debut release. Atlanta's Sonia Tetlow Band, reduced to their initials, grab wiry, edgy melodies and wrap them around a tight three-piece that knows when to play loud and when to lay back, resulting in an album as incendiary as the first Pretenders disc of anything I've heard in the 20 years since.

Tetlow's husky voice, a ringer for a Chrissy Hynde/ Siouxie Sioux combination, alternately sputters and purrs, driving the songs down a bumpy road they call agit-pop, while making the most of a three-piece lineup. Even without printed lyrics, you'll be able to sing every one of these songs after the first listen, but it's the raging energy here, especially exemplified by bassist Lee Kennedy's jazz-like adeptness, that slaps your face like the first time you heard Patti Smith blow dust out of the radio.

Poetic, tuneful and, above all, rocking with a barely contained intensity, the STB locks into a groove and hangs it tight. Whether it's the grinding, slowly creeping closing track "Night" of the crisp brevity of "Running Out of Time," this album is as timeless as the best, and most classic releases of punk's early hey-day. Ignore the blurry cover, nondescript art, blandly initialed band moniker and vaguely offensive title, and dig into one of the most powerful first albums from an Atlanta band in years." - Atlanta Press by Hal Horowitz

"STB's Got Room to Flail, Pick, Pound and Wail"

Atlanta's Sonia Tetlow Band, or "STB" for those like myself cursed with marginal rather than total recall, is the proud parent of a fiery new long-player it has christened Swerve. Comprised of Ms. Tetlow, holding down both guitar and vocal duties, bassist Lee Kennedy and drummer Becky Shaw, the powerful STB prefers its rock and roll be prepared from scratch, using only the basic ingredients, leaving no fat behind on its plate. In the process of cranking out inspired tunes-a-plenty, the band also manages to breathe much-needed new life into the rapidly stagnating pool of power trios that matter.

Propelled by Tetlow's soaring pipes and equally snarling guitar work, the band's tight-as-a-noose approach and knack for well thought upon lyrical ins-and-outs have garnered comparisons to everyone from the Pretenders to the Velvet Underground to PJ. Harvey to Patti Smith. Though there is ample sustenance for such varying degrees of separation, Tetlow, nonetheless flattered, remains a bit perplexed as to the flapping jowls of us hasty-handed (but well meaning) rock critics.

"I think we've been compared to every female-fronted rock band under the sun at this point," laughs Tetlow. "There's a lot of musicality to our songs, by which I mean that we try to make them stand up in any context, not just [in the context] being loud or edgy or whatever. I can see where the Chrissie Hynde and PJ Harvey comparisons come in because of the girl-with-guitar and emotive lyrics thing, but we'd honestly rather just call it rock and roll."

And rock they do, and then some. Swerve's 10 tracks reaffirm the acclaim brought about by STB's debut effort Spit, released early last year. The trio's strength lies not only in Tetlow's uncompromising yet undeniably intimate lyrical stance, but also in its ability to function as a tightly-wound unit giving each member equal room to flail, pick, pound, wail and get her accumulated rocks off in no-nonsense fashion. Though there's always room for a second guitar in some instances (Atlanta scene vet and STB producer extraordinaire Rob Gal filled guit-slot #2 recently at the band's "CD Release" gig), the STB's high velocity modus operandi isn't likely to be tampered with anytime soon.
"I always wanted to be part of a trio for a number of reasons," says Tetlow. "For the most part, it leaves a good amount of space for us to work with. There's a lot going on even with just three people in the band. This way you can enjoy what Lee's doing, what Becky's doing and, hopefully, what I'm' doing without anyone getting lost in the mix. I'm not the most, um, schooled of guitar players so this way it's easier for me to hear what everyone else is putting down and not have to worry about tuning into of following [a second guitarist]."

If recent engagements, not to mention the new slab, are any indicator then the STB's signal is coming in loud and clear. So if the "Hit Me Baby One More Time" crowd or that whole "Survivor" massacre-en-MTV are your idea of estrogen-driven rock and roll, maybe you should plug those ears and wipe those noses. The STB's about to kick things into high gear, and you've not even had the chance to buckle up. - The Flagpole by Michael Andrews

"KickAss Girl Rocker"

Sonia Tetlow has a rather unusual background for a rock chick. Her childhood was filled with arias sung by her professional opera singer mother and the classical music preferred by her father. While most children had posters of teen idols in their bedroom, Sonia and her sisters had signed 8x10 glossies of famous opera singers from the family's frequent visits to the Metropolitan Opera. "I was around 9 or 10 when one of our neighbors threw out a radio that was filled with cockroaches," Sonia fondly reminisces. "I asked them if I could have it, sprayed it with RAID and that's when I started listening to rock music."

However the music bug didn't fully take over till she attended a Melissa Etheridge concert at age 18. "After that I was talking with a friend of mine (fellow New Orleans rocker Brian Perry) on a concert road trip to Texas," she says. "I asked him what he wanted to do with his life and he pointed to the radio and said 'that'. Then I said 'me too'. I just knew this was what I was always going to do."

That youthful passion has continued and since been honed into skillful guitar playing, songwriting and singing. When asked about her intense, rocking performances, Sonia replies, "Because I'm passionate about what I do, it gets labeled angry girl rock. And when the boys play rock, they just say it rocks. But this is what I write, this the way I am. This just feels right to me."

It must also feel right to many others because she has steadily been garnering fans, critical acclaim and landing gigs at venues like CBGB's, the Roxy and House of Blues alongside musicians like Patti Smith, Indigo Girls, Train and Soul Asylum.
- Louisiana Jukebox by Kathy Goode

"7" Single Review"

A seriously rockin' slab o' tuneage, this is no-nonsense power garage at its best. The shuddery banshee vocals of Tetlow lend the Atlanta-based band a P.J. Harvey vibe, with a distinctive Velvets wallop informing the rhythm section/ rumble-fuzz guitar interplay. The trio as a whole locks into a groove so effective you'd need a professional burglar to break it, and even then he'd ruin a briefcase full of tools in the process." - MAGNET by Fred Mills

"Record Review - FROM A SEED OF SAND"

Sonia Tetlow does not make my kind of music. She’s bluesy, for example, and the blues aren’t my thing; even the classic stuff doesn’t get that far under my skin. The production on her new album is absolutely vintage 1990s Atlanta, too, with that sharply echoing Rob Gal sound that makes the studio sound tiny. Her guitars are dirty in a way we’ve largely gotten beyond in our popular music.

All that considered, it’s impressive how much From a Seed of Sand endears itself even to the fundamentally suspicious. Tetlow’s voice is a large part of this - thin, breathy, wailing and ultimately haunting. The darkness in it isn’t studied, and it isn’t off-putting. It’s less Amy Lee and more about the enjoyment factor of being scared and perhaps a bit depressed, the feeling you might have gotten back in your school days being the only person left awake after a night of deep conversation, the sky lightening but the sun not warming anything yet. Is it a Louisiana thing? Folks from that state do tend to be able to go more over the top than the rest of us without annoying.

This record is quieter, more contemplative than some of Tetlow’s others, with hardly a song breaking a sweat in energy seemingly expended or tempo. It’s mostly a collection of three-minute mournful, country-influenced howls, from the opener (“Bittersweet”) to “Whiskey Dream” to the penultimate “Quicksand,” all driven by a guitar that mimics Tetlow’s cries, a banshee/siren having a late drink on her front porch, pulling you in against your will.
- The Flagpole by Hillary Brown


We are a brand new BAND!!



They came from Michigan, Delaware & Louisiana during the great Atlanta migration. They can't remember who met who first, but sometime long ago, perhaps at a party, there might have been a basketball involved, a bottle of vodka, a pitcher of margaritas, Guns 'n Roses in the Little 5 Points Bazaar... The details are a little fuzzy. But somehow they all met and sometime after that, music was made. Linda and Sonia played together in a Go-Go's cover band, Linda and Lee played together in Michelle Malone's band & Lee and Sonia played together in STB.

There were other bands, of course. Sonia toured for a few years with Cowboy Mouth and fronted STB, Lee toured for a few years with Moanin Malone and played with the Little Bobby Taylors & Shrunken Head and Linda also toured with Michelle Malone and played with Elroy's Big Machine & Straw Village. But in due course, the time was ripe for the three friends to get together and kick it.

And so, HERMAN PUT DOWN THE GUN, was born in December 2007.

HERMAN is a band based on songs and the swelling sounds that bring them to life; harmony, melody, the sweet soul, the rock edge. The band can sound like Led Zepplin one moment and the ghost of Jim White the next. From post-punk to americana and everything in between, HERMAN is not afraid to explore all the shades, trade instruments, swap songs, mix it up, make it up, whatever will keep the heart pounding, the body moving and the music taking hold.