Up from their Deep South birth in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in a studio by the levee of the mighty Mississippi, the Louisiana Riverfront Band (LRB) was most recently sonically magnified by their new recording near the Spanish Lake Swamp at co-producer Harold Cowart’s studio in Prairieville.
Raised on Rock R&B live performances in southern dance-halls, high school and college parties, nightclubs and roadhouses, and later studio certified with their ace rhythm section and solid songs, the Louisiana Riverfront Band materialized for this recording after several manifestations of the three musicians in various bands.
Their most common denominator was with the classic R&B dance band John Fred and the Playboys, the killer R&B/R&R horn band that was playing across the South. The Playboys became an international household name with their hit record "Judy in Disguise," a Billboard #1 worldwide hit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaWaQBxc0aI
The LRB founders, Lynn Ourso, Luther Kent and Harold Cowart, first played together while Lynn was guitarist/songwriter with John Fred and the Playboys. Each of the three artists performed with the Playboys together and separately over the years, starting with Lynn on bass and his moving to guitar for several years after which he became the band's manager.
While the Playboys were playing at Thunderbird Beach, a few miles outside of Baton Rouge, a then unknown 15-year-old Luther Kent (a/k/a Dynamic Duke Royal) was invited onstage to sing with the band.
Soon after, they started recording together at the Montel Records studio by the Mississippi River. Harold joined the Playboys as a trumpet player only to find that his true calling was as an electric bass player. John Fred, a guest vocalist on this Louisiana Riverfront Band CD, was with the Playboys almost from their beginning to the mid-nineties.
The original Riverfront Band came together when Lynn and Harold were working in Montel Record's unofficial studio rhythm section. While recording with studio drummer and production partner Cyril Vetter for their CYLYN Records label on Front street by the Mississippi River levee, Cyril came up with the Riverfront Band name. That is when CYLYN launched the band's soulful roots R&B party sounding cover of "High Heel Sneakers."
Background vocals were provided by the original Passions, a female group the boys had just signed to CYLYN as artists. The master was to be leased by Island Records A&R man Jimmy Miller, producer of "Let IT Bleed" and several other Rolling Stones albums. (Here’s a little trivia. Due to lack of communication with the CYLYN distributor, the Riverfront Band did not find out about the offer for over ten years when by chance Lynn found the offer letter in a discarded file!)
Luther was recording solo as Dynamic Duke Royal and Blues, Inc., for the Montel label, and Lynn and Harold were recording with the Playboys for N-Joy and Jewel-Paula Records.
The Playboys first record release was "Boogie Children" with Lynn on guitar, and it stirred international interest (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6Oi5jeIYD4). It was a favorite of the world famous DJ Wolfman Jack. Broadcasting on super station XERF radio (the “X”), a Mexican clear-channel 250-kilowatt border blaster, Jack played the song over and over, back to back for hours into radios throughout the US and many other countries. While he played the record, he would echo in the background in his best authentic wolf voice “Boogie Children” with an added wolf howl.
As an added note, when John Fred met Elvis in Las Vegas, the first thing Elvis said to Fred was, "Boogie Children!"
Around this time, Cyril attached his famous Greek Fountains college band name to the Riverfront Band performing and recording an LP. Lynn, John Fred and Luther all performed a bit with that group while each carried on with their other career bands.
The guys all went their separate ways through several bands and musical adventures, but still worked together periodically. Luther performed with Blood Sweat and Tears, Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders, and at His own New Orleans French Quarter night club with his big band Trick Bag and The Real Thing band for some years. Lynn engineered sessions for Harold and his Cold Grits group to land a record deal with Lou Adler's A&M/Ode Records (Carole King, Spirit, etc.)
Harold eventually headed to Muscle Shoals and Miami studios to record for Atlantic Records with Aretha Franklin, Brook Benton, Wilson Pickett, and for other major labels produced by Barry Gibb. He would ultimately record many gold and platinum records with artists such as The Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, to mention a few. He played on many hits such as "Islands in the Stream," "Rainy Night in Georgia," "Too Much Heaven," "Grease," and many more.
Lynn, after playing some with the Greek Fountains and ultimately with John Fred and the Playboys for some years, moved to Miami to play with Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders. Wayne Cochran was known as the white James Brown. His band included five horns, two drummers, a B3, bass and Lynn on guitar. They performed nightly at The Barn, a famous club in Miami that attracted a top-drawer crowd such as professional football players from teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts as well as Jackie Gleason and cast members from his “Honeymooners” TV Show.
Lynn eventually returned to Baton Rouge to start GSA Music Management, a business and production complex, partnered in Louisiana’s first 8-track and later a 24-track recording studio, and managed John Fred and the Playboys for some years. He also continued playing with the band off and on until Fred's death.
Along the way Lynn conceived of and helped draft the legislation to create the Louisiana Music Commission in the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. He served on the original board and as Executive Director for years, and helped develop the music, film, live performance and interactive programs into today’s Louisiana Office of Entertainment Development. On departing LED, Lynn reactivated the Great South Artists, Corp. office. The Louisiana Riverfront Band’s “Roots Rockin’ Blues” cd is the first project from the new GSA.