Singer-songwriter Lorenzo “Ledfoot Larry” Michelutti and his band are hitting the road this fall in support of their latest full-length album with hopes of attracting new fans to their style of country music. Titled “Tequila Mockingbird,” the 10-song recording encompasses rockabilly and Tex-Mex as well as earlier forms of country music.
Michelutti, who is a resident of Saint Paul’s West End, wrote all of the songs on “Tequila Mockingbird” with the help of some of his bandmates. Most of the songs are upbeat tunes about romance, with a couple of mournful ballads thrown in for good measure.
Ledfoot Larry
Lorenzo “Ledfoot Larry” Michelutti outside his West End home. Photo by Brad Stauffer


Michelutti has been writing music since his teenage years when he also learned to play the guitar. His earliest influences were Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins. His tastes later evolved to include Dwight Yoakum, the Texas Tornadoes and the Mavericks.

“I don’t know if Minnesota is the perfect venue (for us),” Micheletti said. “There’s not a lot of love for this kind of music in the Twin Cities. I’ve been told I might do better in places like Austin (Texas).”

Michelutti decided early in his career that his given name would not work in the country music world, so he adopted Ledfoot Larry as a stage name from his youthful tendency to drive fast cars. He switched to country after tiring of playing in rock ’n’ roll cover bands, and put his own band together in 2017.

“I wanted to play what I liked to listen to,” he said. “I like about 10 percent of every genre,” including the classical music he now listens to when he is driving his car.

Ledfoot Larry’s music can be broadly classified as country, accented by the Stetson hats and other western garb the band usually wears on stage. In addition to Michuletti on rhythm guitar and vocals, the band features Paul Pederson on keyboards, accordion and vocals; Patrick Dempsey on bass and vocals; Bob Locke on lead guitar; and Mark Haider on drums.

Quality assurance analyst by day

They typically play about 90 gigs a year at venues throughout Minnesota, western Wisconsin and portions of Iowa. Michelutti does all of the booking to avoid having to pay a 15 percent cut to an agent, and he will not book a weekend show that does not allow the band to be home by Monday since all of them have day jobs.

Michelutti is employed as a quality assurance analyst for a computer engineering firm. Few musicians are able to support themselves solely on their music, he said, and those who have families should not let their performing interfere too much with family time.

When he interviews potential bandmates, Michuletti makes it clear that their significant others have to be OK with the amount of time involved. His wife, Beth Vitek, comes to his gigs when she can, he said, but she is often occupied with taking care of their four children.

Band on the road

Negotiating pay with club operators is Michuletti’s least favorite part of being a bandleader. Many venue operators would still like to pay bands what they paid them in the 1990s, he said, or around $100 per musician. “That amount isn’t feasible for a lot of people,” he said.

Most fans of live music do not realize the time that is involved in setting up and tearing down a band’s equipment, according to Michuletti. A typical four-hour gig can easily stretch into seven hours, not counting travel time, he said.

Ledfoot Larry rarely places a tip jar on stage. Although many bands do it, “it feels tacky,” Michuletti said. However, a few venues insist on the practice.

The band also discourages folks from asking if they can sing a song or two with them on stage. “There are a lot of ‘American Idol’ wannabees out there,” Michuletti said. A primary reason for the ban is the band’s use of in-ear monitors. Sharing a monitor with a guest singer would not be sanitary, Michuletti said.

Possible gig for hometown fans

Most of Ledfoot Larry’s gigs are in smaller towns because that is where the bulk of country fans live, according to Michelutti. “I don’t know if Minnesota is the perfect venue (for us),” he said. “There’s not a lot of love for this kind of music in the Twin Cities. I’ve been told I might do better in places like Austin (Texas).”

Ledfoot Larry was scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 24, at Mancini’s Char House on West Seventh Street, although Mancini’s has since postponed live entertainment until further notice. Ledfoot Larry’s new CD as well as its debut album, “Smooches Gracias,” is available on the band’s website at

— Carolyn Walkup


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