RoadkillCowboys & Indians

Saturday, August 24

The hardest thing to figure about Cowboys & Indians is where to put them. They dress up in cowboy hats and boots and, well, the Dallas band's name certainly evokes Western images. Yet their sound owes less to the steel guitar, relying instead on a full-bore horn-section attack with trombones, saxophones, and a snazzy swing worthy of KOOP's Lounge Show. But where's the fiddle? Perhaps they belong at Cedar Street? Or how about a country-oriented dancehall like the Split Rail?

"Well, the band started out going for a Western swing trip, but different members came in and out of the band and we ended up with the two horns, and so that kind of went on to define the sound," says C&I drummer French Acers. "We were sort of going for what Bob Wills was doing in the Thirties and Forties, when big bands were his competition, so he had himself a
30-piece orchestra at one point. He was doing big-band songs as well, but just doing his own take on 'em."

C&I's lineup also includes bold lead vocalist Erik Swanson on guitar and trombone, Billy King on guitar and lap steel, Larry Reed on bass, and Jim Lehnert on sax and trombone. But again, there's no fiddle! Do C&I really think of themselves as Western swing?

"No, we don't. We kind of use Western swing as a jumping-off point -- going back to the example of Bob Wills. We like including a bunch of different types of music and hopefully coming up with something new."

As for the lounge revival, "I think the two things just happen to be going on at the same time. We might be capitalizing on it as far as swing goes; I don't know, do you consider [Austin's] 81/2 Souvenirs lounge?"

Like the Souvenirs, C&I put out a CD last year that has seen some decent sales -- at Waterloo Records no less, which is surprising for an unknown, out-of-town band that has rarely played Austin, or toured much at all, for that matter.

"It's selling pretty good; Crystal Clear has been handling it for us, but we haven't had much distribution because they don't want to put it out any place that we're not going to play. But locally, we're going into a second pressing and selling a lot better than I thought it would by this point."

Maybe bands like C&I are why Waterloo doesn't have sections.
-- Lee Nichols

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