The Cap Gun Cowboys ~ Girls, Cars and Smoke-Filled Bars
Date: Saturday, April 03, 2004 @ 12:16:13 UTC

Artist: The Cap Gun Cowboys

CD: Girls, Cars and Smoke-filled Bars

Home: Cleveland, Ohio

Style: Alt Country/Rockabilly

Quote: "Their sound will often have you smiling to the point of chuckling. Something about a fast, twangy electric guitar coupled with twangy male voices and tight harmonies ... "

By Les Reynolds

If the concept of an alt country/rockabilly band from Cleveland, Ohio has you scratching your head, well, you're probably not alone. If it also arouses your curiosity, then read on.

The twangy Cap Gun Cowboys are billed in their press release as an "unlikely group of country misfits ... " That's pretty accurate, considering where they are based, the kind of sound they produce, and the sometimes interesting instrumental arrangements you'll hear on their latest release Girls, Cars and Smoke-Filled Bars.

The CD, produced on the appropriately named Rust Belt Recordings label, offers eleven original tunes -- a bit of a surprise, since most groups with a country flavor will at least cover one tune by a more well-known artist. Not these guys.

"These guys" are bassist Mark Loncarevic (kind of a Cleveland-sounding name, dontcha think?), drummer Todd Nelson and vocalist/guitarists Phil Verhoef and Greg Yanito, who also contribute on trombone(!) and accordion(!) respectively.

Then look at the photos inside the CD cover jacket. You'll understand the "misfits" reference a little better.

Now, for the music.

While not every tune shines in its entirety, there's something to like in each song. It's never harsh and always interesting. And while the reason is sometimes hard to pinpoint, their sound will often have you smiling to the point of chuckling. Something about a fast, twangy electric guitar coupled with twangy male voices and tight harmonies ...

Speaking of humor, the up-tempo opener "Barrel Gun Road" has some pretty funny parts to it. There's one spot where one of the guys (not specified) intones in his best Johnny Cash impersonation "Johnny Cash on the radio..."

Lyrics here are really humorous, too, and likely based on real life:

Cruisin' down Barrel Gun Road
People lookin' at me funny as I'm drivin' slow
Fuzzy dice keepin' the rhythm
Of the back slow beat
As I'm singin' with 'em
Johnny Cash on the radioooo ...

... Windshield wiper scrapin' the glass
Fallin' off with only one mile passed ...

Well, you get the picture. But in case you need a little more, here are a few lines from the next cut, an even faster number called "Wal-Mart Wedding:"

It's a Wal-Mart wedding takin' place now soon ...
I've been shoppin' for days
I can't find my family
It's a Wal-Mart weddEEEEEnnnggg ...

It's a disposable wolrd where plastic never breaks down

... Bought a three-dollar suit and a striped tie
that's free
Been shoppin' for days and I can't find my family ...

Then either Phil or Greg intones a jaunty "Here Comes the Bride" on electric guitar solo. The only drawback to this tune is that it's difficult to understand the lyrics due to the quick tempo -- but it's funny, nonetheless.

Of course, it's not all racing speed, although those are the most memorable and fun moments. And, of course, there must be the typical country bad luck or negative thinking sentiment thrown in for good measure. "Full Tank" takes the positive and turns it sour pretty quick. As the car's gauge registers full, the song goes "I checked to see the tank's full, the needle's stuck, I swear on the gospel ... This was supposed to be a love song, now it's just a ditty of (pause) love gone wrong."

The group's clever use of words extends to their placement of tunes and song titles. Cut number eight is entitled "The Message." It's an actual 44-second phone message from some ol' man and includes these words: "What seem to be wrong witcher peoples over 'ere? As long as yore feet on top o' the ground, I know you doin' all right ... talk to you winehaids later. (beep) Wednesday, 4:47 p.m." Then, the next cut is called "Phone Call from Texas." This is the tune that includes the trombone -- country with a horn!

Still don't know what to make of this group? You're probably not alone. Still curious? Y'all give em a listen, y heah? You'll enjoy it.

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