Band name: Mississippi Queen
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Karlo Starcevic aka "Don Karlos" (vocals/rhythm guitar)
Jurica Stelma (double bass)
Gvozden Sopp (lead guitar)
Kruno Krapec (drums)
Booking contact: Ivan Kupresakovic (juanes94&yahoo.com
Merchandise purchase info: http://rhythmbomb.com or directly from us
How would you describe your style of music?
In the beginning, we played almost every root style (country, blues, hillbilly, rockabilly), but after some time we've turned to a plain country-rockabilly, authentic style like they say today. However, on our new album you can expect something new. A little bit "more powerful" sound due to a new member, the drummer.
How did you get into this style of music?
We officially started in the fall of 1989. Before that, we were just hanging around at the parties and parks singing do whop and playing guitars. After some time, that became Mississippi Queen.
How did you come up with your band name?
Well, in the beginning, there were several names for the band. So we made a questionnaire among our friends and the name that won was Mississippi Queen. The famous steam boat Mississippi Queen seemed to suit just fine. At that time, we didn't play strictly rockabilly music but also hillbilly, rhythm and blues and even some gospel. So the boat Mississippi Queen that connects southern US states where all that music came from stayed with us all through the years.
What is the background of your band members?
We all share more or less the same background as far as rock n' roll is concerned. Karlo and I met in 1989 when I was just 14 years old. We both still have full and greasy hair and pearly white teeth...haha..and feelin better than ever. Okay, but differences are present. we all share a passion for the 50's music and culture. I am the only one who has a professional music career. I play in the National Opera House Orchestra. I also play with many different combos-from jazz, latin music, classical music, blues, etc.. Karlo has a strong influence of country and folk music, especially Croatian traditional accappela singing. Gvosden and Kruno have their regular jobs. Kruno being most known as a bar owner and a chairman of the great and most famous Croatian Rockabilly festival "Tear It Up!!"
Who are they as individuals?
Like I said, we all have our regular daily routine, either working or playing music professionally. Married, divorced, divorced, married..hahaha
Where can people purchase your music and or merchandise?
You can buy our CDs from the official shop of our label "Rhythm Bomb Records" , and also directly from us.
Official website: http://mississippi-queen.weebly.com
FB Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/rockabillymississippiqueen
How long has your band been together?
This year we celebrate 25 years from the very first live performance.
What do you like the most about the Rockabilly scene?
Diversity, you can hear traditional rockabilly like it was played in 1956 (until that year was over, haha). There are more modern types of it-either based on honky tonk sounds, garage or punk sounds. Every effort is worth listening, there is only quality music and good musicianship on one side and one that is not. Nowadays, it is all mixed into a big pot that people refer to as "rockabilly". I often hear my other band Billie & The Kids labeled as Rockabilly. I spend a lot of time explaining the difference between rhythm & blues and rockabilly etc.
Who are your music idols, who infulences your music?
There are more than a few influences, but here they are- Johnny Burnette, Sleepy LaBeef, Johnny Cash. we love what Grady Martin did in the 50's. Then we have some influence in the outlaw country scene from the 70's like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, David Allan Coe and George Jones. There is so much that infuenced Mississippi Queen, I could go on forever.....
What future events do you have planned?
In June, we played the Walldorf Weekender in Germany and the Rockabilly Rave in the UK. In September, we play the Rockabilly Deluxe Festival in Luxemburg. In October we plan a tour to promote the new album CD (more info about that tour can be found on our website).
Do your band members have day jobs or do they make their dime as professional musicians?
Oh, well, I was just talking about that, haha...I didn't mention that our guitar player Gvozden is the swimming coach for the most popular swimming club in Croatia. He can swim the ocean and every deep blue sea. However, he can't climb the mountain, although will try to get to you...
If day jobs, what type of work do they do?
During the day we sleep and at night, we go out and play. Uh, I only wish that were true. The truth is that we can hardly get together for a rehearsal. We also struggle with the days off from work to be on the road.
Do your or any of your band collect records?
Of course, I am the one that is building towers in my apartment. Annoying my kids with these small, black round "somethings" that can only play 2 songs. Apart from USB stickers that carry thousands to choose from! I have everything, mostly rhythm & blues. They are on all types of vinyl, especially 45's and 78's.
If so, what do you/they collect?
I started with Rockabilly and then went to 50's country music. I then switched off to almost only "black " music from the 40's and 50's. I believe the reason was when Billie & The Kids started playing. I just couldn't believe what I was missing. All that R & B material, just incredible.
what is your most memorable experience at a concert?
The best for Karlo would be talking to his teenage ideol Crazy Cavan and the band. Again after 23 years and remembering their first visit to Croatia.
What was your funniest memory at a concert?
We have been in this thing so long, I can't even remember all the stuff. I'll point out the last one. It happened a month ago at the Cruiser Spring Bounce. Karlo was really sick and his legs were going numb due to a Guillain-Bare syndrome, he could barely walk. During the stage act, he almost fell down three times. He looked like Forest Gump in that scene when he was dancing in front of Elvis. I think everyone thought that he was dead drunk! We all had a good time laughing. He recovered not long after.
Is there anything that you would like to add about yourself or your band?
We will continue to play as long as we can. It is actually now, after 25 years that people are hearing about us, our music. It feels really good.
Last but not least, what makes this band tick?
Our hearts.....Nothing beats that......
The story of Mississippi Queen began in the fall of 1989 in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. It was formed by Jurica Stelma (upright base), Karlo Starcevic (rhythm guitar/vocals), Renato Zgrablic-Pit (second rhythm guitar, harp and vocals) and Vedran Zanko (lead guitar, vocals). They played together for over a year and recorded a few sessions. The songs from these sessions stemmed into the published tape compilation " Rock This Town". These were to be the first official recordings of Mississippi Queen. 1990 was very successful for Mississippi Queen as it brought to Croatia the first ever line up with a slap base. They had many concerts in that year with several national TV appearances. By the end of 1990, Pit took over lead guitar when Vedran left the band. Over the next couple of years, the band performed as a trio and only recorded one session. From this came the bonus tracks for the first album "Golden Years" in 1993. This saw the addition of two new band members, Gorana Cehic (fiddle/vocals) and Igor Balent (drums). This album featured the first self penned song of Mississippi Queen. However, no record label showed interest at the time so Mississippi Queen produced it on their own. Another year saw the loss of the drummer and the groups return to a trio once again. The next album "Ten Years After" was recorded in 1999 with cover songs similar to the ones they played at concerts. After a few years, the band got fed up with doing covers. They wanted to do their own and to find an audience that would appreciate it. The band started to write their own stuff and soon the album "Did You Say Love" came into existence. This album was recorded in its entirety at the Lightning Recording Studios in Berlin in 2004 for Rhythm Bomb Records with Ivan Semes-Sammy on lead guitar. Things started to heat up for the band with great critic reviws and they took part in the festivals and clubs around Europe. In 2008, Sammy left the band and Axel Praefcke took over at lead guitar. Mississippi Queen recoreded the album "Rock-a-Billy Heaven Bound" with Axel for Rhythm Bomb Records.