Swashbuckling On the Ohio

Pirates of the Mississippi Come Ashore in Louisville

Louisville's leading country music radio station, WAMZ, compared them to the sizzling-hot Kentucky HeadHunters. The station was touting the Pirates of the Mississippi's upcoming appearance at their three-day 13th Birthday Party celebration scheduled to begin on Friday, July 13.

The comparison was not without merit. With a video on the teevee, the Pirates were no strangers to many who came to Louisville's Waterfront Park to help WAMZ celebrate.

The Pirates: l to r, Rich Alves, Jimmy Lowe, Pat Severs, Bill McCorvey, and Dean Townson. Photo by Jean Metcalfe

In an interview with the five young men following their performance, they were polite, zany, energetic and entertaining. And they were cute, too. They took turns speaking into the mike of my tape recorder.

Pat Severs: Hi, I'm Pat Severs, and I play steel guitar with the band. ("You do not," Bill McCorvey teased.)

McCorvey: Ok, I'm Bill McCorvey and I sing and play guitar. ("And he does," Severs promised.)

Dean Townson: Hello, I'm Dean Townson. I play bass and sing background.

Rich Alves: Rich Alves, xylophone player. (Everyone laughs at the misleading quip.) "Lead guitar player," the others corrected.

Jimmy Lowe: (In a pirate-like voice) Jimmy Lowe, I play the drums there, mateys, and drink lots of ginger ale.

Alves: We wrote that song ("Pirates of the Mississippi"), Bill and myself, and the song is a song on our album (Pirates of the Mississippi) and it's about our drummer who's a reincarnated pirate. We got to talking about that one night, so we wrote a song about it. And it's all about him. And the label (Capitol) liked the song so much they said "That'd be a great name for your band," 'cause they hated our original name, which we won't get into. (Lots of laughter from the band members.)

McCorvey: How we got together was that me and Rich were writing for a publishing company and we were writing for other people and we wanted to have an outlet to do the songs that we like to write for ourselves, so Rich got together and got Pat and Jimmy and Dean and myself and we all got together and started playing in the basement and next thing we knew we kinda had a band. And we started playing around town just for fun, no aspirations of a record deal, ("Yeah, sure," one of the others interjected.) And next thing I knew we had one. (Squeals and wows.) It's great!

Townson: I held down a lucrative career in a local factory in Nashville, Tennessee, when I received a call about a weekend get-together (his voice was purposely sing-song and a bit tongue-in-cheek as though the speech was memorized from having told his story so many times) and it's turned into every other weekend, and now it's going to turn out to every other week, now it's every other day, and it's going to be every day, and we're having a great time. (Much laughter from the others.) We've had a great time in Louisville, too.

Lowe: I'd just like to say that I'm pleased as punch to be here. I've still got my day job. I just turned in my notice. Two weeks from now I'll be a full-time "Pirate," which means I'll be a trashy musician again. And I'm just pleased as punch to be here, and having a good time. These guys are like brothers. We're real close. We borrow money from each other. We steal money from each other. (How long had they been together, I asked.) Three years. Well, all of us played together . . . but this band, yeah, like three years. ("Yeah, and we're an articulate bunch, too, one interjected," when several of the Pirates were talking at once.) It's been a long way coming for us, but . . .

The current group is the original one. No personnel changes. "They only fired me twice," one said. Another offered, "We were going to get rid of Rich, but we were practicing in his basement." "It worked out though," still another added.

Severs: I'd like to say we have a new album out on Capitol Records. It's in your local record store as we speak. It's a wonderful album. We're very, very proud of it. Rich and Bill wrote a good portion of the songs on it, and so it's got a real fresh sound. It's country, it's Southern rock, everyone's gonna love it. Buy it, please, we need the money.

I gave the Pirates a last chance to speak to our readers before I said goodbye and departed their tour bus. Last words:

"Buy the album." "We love Kentucky." "Louisville's great." "Prettiest women in town ... are right here in Louisville." (Laughter)

As they posed for pictures they continually made funny remarks in addition to chanting "Buy our records. Buy our records."

I left the bus with an autographed photograph of Pirates of the Mississippi (and, inadvertently, their autograph pen) and good feelings about the fun-loving guys that comprise the group.

Can't wait to see the next issue of Billboard!