The existential angst was palpable in the Boiler Room recently, as Baby Cowboy lead singer Julian Sikes sang of death and love interchangeably, as if they were reflections of one another. "Realize it's the madness of the memories," was the closing refrain for one particularly haunting tune.
Perhaps Baby Cowboy is truly an emo-inspired, porch-kickin' roots band, but it definitely has some dark punk influences and newgrass tendencies. Perhaps they make nuevo-progressive mountain folk music. I'm not sure. Regardless of the band's categorization, the crowd was vocal and receptive to the boys on stage, periodically shouting out the band's name in support. Sikes was joined by Matt Dawson on lead and slide guitar, Jeff Loops on upright bass and backing vocals and Lucas Nelson on banjo. Although not in attendance, Baby Cowboy also boasts James Taylor as a mandolin player, according to the band's MySpace page.
The show was well attended for a chilly Thursday night, with a good 50 people hanging out and watching — for the most part — attentively. This band, in some ways, personifies the cliché of an American mountain-music band; PBRs in hand, plaid shirts, banjo, Resonator slide guitar, acoustic guitars — yet there is more than the prescribed accessories to this emerging young group.
One of the more memorable aspects of this band is its easy harmonies, and the musicians' obvious comfort with one another. That comfort translates to extremely fluid movement into double-time rhythm jams and an unspoken understanding between members. You can tell these guys have spent a lot of time working things out.
I felt the show got really interesting near the end of the set, when the band changed vibe and tempo and delved into an almost "CC Rider" kindof fast-blues shuffle. Sikes' vocals changed format completely here, as he pushed the top boundary of his range and belted his way into an awesome and fun place that the crowd seemed to appreciate.
I can tell the boys are still getting the hang of being in front of microphones and not on the front porch, still, this band has tremendous potential. Together since 2008, Baby Cowboy does all original music, and while they're kind of offbeat in character, they seem dedicated to their craft — I think we haven't yet seen the best the band has to offer.
Borrowing some verbiage from their MySpace, if you like acoustic guitars, three-part harmonies, dirty-blues slide guitar, and melodies that get stuck in your head … as well as happy musical accidents that leave occasional room for improvisation, go see Baby Cowboy.
Learn more at myspace.com/babycowboymusic.