Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 17, 2014

Mustang Sally rides back in town

LAKE PARK — Mustang Sally has never been a one-trick pony.

Granted, the initial appeal has always been that Mustang Sally is a predominantly all-female country band, but that’s not enough to keep audiences coming back. And audiences have been coming back to see lead singer Tobi Lee and the girls for years. Lee says it’s the band’s music and spirit that have made fans of Mustang Sally audiences.

This weekend, Mustang Sally plays Lowndes County for the first time in a while. The band returns to Rascal’s in Lake Park, a place where many area folks became Mustang Sally fans years ago.

Granted, there have been a few changes since the last time the Nashville, Tenn.-based group played here.

While Lee remains lead singer and chief songwriter, some of the band’s membership has changed. The band’s core membership consists of Lee, Lisa Romeo, Teresa Cockburn, and Jake Taylor. Lee refers to Taylor as Mustang Sally’s “token guy.”

Mustang Sally has also enjoyed increased success and public exposure in the past few years. Of course, not all of that exposure is planned.

Tobi Lee’s appearance at the 48th American Country Music Awards was planned. People magazine naming her one of the worst dressed people at the award show was not planned.

Maybe.

After all, Lee wore a strapless, sequined, leopard-print and red-sashed bustier with a layered, ruffled, petticoat mini skirt, bright red platform heels, topped with a punk-pixie haircut.

Lee takes the People designation in stride.

She got to walk the ACM’s red carpet along with Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain. She was part of a Nashville/country music tradition.

Lee already considered herself blessed then People magazine took notice, too.

“People magazine said I was the world’s worst dressed but I was thinking, I’m in People magazine,” Lee told The Times in a recent phone interview. “I don’t care.”

As for the dress, “I really liked it.”

It suited her personality. Lee and Mustang Sally believe in being themselves and not caring what others may think.

“We’re still as wild as we can be,” Lee says. “... The band has no idea what I’m going to do next.”

They communicate with one another through a series of inner-band gestures and looks that keep them bouncing tightly around the songlist. They believe in putting play into playing in a band. And keeping it original.

In the beginning, the band played cover songs to get audiences’ attention but soon looked to writing original songs.

Lee writes on the bus, in motel rooms, on the road and at home. She writes songs whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. She has written numerous songs on Holiday Inn post-it notes and later has to piece the lyrics back together to rebuild the song.

Lee estimates 80 percent of Mustang Sally’s sets are original material. She didn’t want to perform other people’s songs even though she understood the appeal of a band having a full arsenal of cover tunes.

“A lot of people do not want to sit there and hear something they’ve never heard,” Lee says.

So, Mustang Sally slowly, insistently introduced original songs, building a fan base that knew the tunes so soon the band’s audiences could sing along with Mustang Sally.

Mustang Sally’s single, “Jiggle It a Little,” has brought the band more attention, especially in Switzerland, where the song rose to No. 4 on the charts.

Playing Zurich, Lee introduced some cover songs to reach out to the Swiss audience. She also introduced them to her big stage presence, giving Switzerland a Southern take on an Alps yodel.

It’s all part of Lee and Mustang Sally’s philosophy.

“It is truly a blessing to be on stage ... and hopefully make people happy.”

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