Regional Bands: Spotlight on Los Cowtones

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Charlie Smith – fiddle, vocals
Nicki Lancaster – vocals, percussion
Dave Gauthier – drums, vocals
Curly LaJollla – bass guitar, vocals
Mark Simpson – pedal steel

Los Cowtones blends a mix of cover and original tunes to weave a web of country, western, jazz and swing into a free flowing, fun-filled set of musical excitement we like to call Cowboy Jazz, though others refer to it as country swing. A few of the artists that are covered by the group are (click to visit the website) Merle Haggard, Gram Parsons, Bonnie Raitt, Hoyt Axton, Fats Waller, Gene Autry, Sons of the Pioneers, Emmylou Harris, Harlan Howard, The Hot Club of Cowtown, and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Some of the tunes are taken from the past and were done by many people, but never quite like we do them. We have other songs written by band members and like to think that these are some of our best material. You be the judge.

Los Cowtones has roots that go back as far as 1974, when Charlie, Mark and Curly teamed with others to start what would become one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier country rock bands (back before there was such a thing as country rock), Country Al and His Pals. New members came as other members went, and the band finally disbanded for good sometime in 1977.

Meanwhile, Nicki Lancaster was cutting her teeth with a group named Medium Rore and doing duos and trios with Steve Bradley, one of Portland’s finest rock and roll guitar virtuosos, and Doug Craven, most recently of the Hard Day’s Knights.

The early 80’s saw Charlie, Nicki and Curly come together in a group simply known as The Deal. It also saw Nicki and Curly tying the knot.

Meanwhile, Dave (our Bakersfield connection) was ripping it up, down in California, with bands such as Sloe Gin, Original Soul, and Danny Lee and the Children of Truth. After moving up to the great Pacific Northwest, he hooked up with Nicki, Charlie and Curly in a couple of local worship bands. Fast friendships ensued.

1999 found Nicki, Charlie and Curly in the basement again. Not putting the old band back together, but forming a new one that would eventually become Los Cowtones. After a few different incarnations, Dave came on board, as did Kay, whose band Shorty and the Mustangs had recently called it quits (much to our advantage). The last addition, and a mighty fine one at that, was Mark, who had spent plenty of time on stages around the NW with bands such as Country Al, Trigger’s Revenge and Arroyo.

It’s mighty fine to take 30 years of friendship, family and talent, and put it on stage for everyone’s enjoyment… especially ours. We hope you enjoy the show.


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