Cowpunk!! What it takes to stay on the road..
Neil and I did a gig last weekend at the Global Cafe in Reading supporting Speedbuggy USA. I'd never heard of them, but their style of play and entertainment is given away by their name. Fast don't do it justice. Just about the tightest cowpunk outfit I'd ever seen, tight as a gnat's A-Hole and technically brilliant, it was no surprise to learn they'd been around for a long time. Based in LA, they're fronted by Louisianan Timbo on Gretch guitar and mandolin, with Texan Bassist Brady and lead guitarist Seth and on this tour they had Mark from Didcot on drums, who did a remarkable job standing-in. Pace, grace and power.....and more than a few stories to tell. None of these guys are what you'd call young in years, but are of a age common with a lot of festival performers these days; sometimes it takes nearly 20 years of believing in yourself to make it - and these guys do. It's their life, their mission. Timbo told me he's been in love with the music of Elvis Presley since he first heard it as a baby in the late '60's. Although looks can be deceiving, he's now 51 and he's been doing what it takes for this band to be on the road professionally since it started, about 20 years ago. 7 years ago he suffered a brain aneurysm; it almost killed him. He lost his sight, couldn't walk and couldn't talk. Not good for a professional carpenter - well, or anyone really. He came back slowly and even when functional, couldn't remember the names of some basic vegetables. He's fully recovered now, except for some bad eyesight and for him every additional day is a bonus. He's doing what he loves to do - gigging almost every day of the week. Speedbuggy USA are touring their latest album (which I bought on vinyl) playing big festivals in the UK including Truckerfest in Oxford, Cornberrry Festival being another, where they played the main stage as headliners, then came to Reading to play in a cafe with no stage! Timbo says he loves doing this - going from big to small - he says it keeps the band grounded. They do their own roadie-ing, sell their own merch, drive to their own gigs, write their own songs and do most of their own recording and mastering in various venues around the world. Their latest album was made in the midst of their umpteenth European Tour. Recorded, then mixed and mastered at a studio in France largely by Seth the guitarist. A tight, integral, self-sufficient unit. And a lovely bunch of guys, polite, helpful and lovin' what they do - and not a single prima donna among them. They spread their good energy around the crowd it's no wonder they're a big hit in the rockabilly/cowpunk scene. You can measure the amount of love they've they put into each performance by the amount of sweat dripping on to the stage floor. They go pedal to the metal for a full two hours. Good way to keep fit I suppose. Me and Timbo, in discussion, agree on one key thing - performing music is the one thing that keeps you young. I hope these guys live forever. it was a pleasure supporting you, Speedbuggy USA!