Catalog Cowboys
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Catalog Cowboys

Band Americana Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music


"Music's always authentic Sundays in Rabbit Hash"

Take musicians from three of the area's finest bands, put them in the barn in Rabbit Hash, Ky., on a Sunday afternoon and you have what band member David Rhodes Brown likes to call "an American roots stew."

That tasty new lineup of what amounts to a local super-group debuts at 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the regular series of Sunday music jams in the Boone County community along the Ohio River.

They call themselves the Catalog Cowboys - fronted by singer/guitarist/dobro player Brown, best know for his rockabilly outfit the Warsaw Falcons, and Brian Ewing, the singer-songwriter with the duo Messerly and Ewing, who brings his fiddle, banjo and accordion playing. Also joining in is Scott Risner, one of the area's finest mandolin pickers, formerly with the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. The group is backed by the Warsaw Falcons rhythm section of John Schmidt (standup bass) and Doug Wagner (drums).

Brown and Ewing have written several original tunes for the project, which spans the Americana feel encompassing rock, folk, bluegrass and a touch of alternative strains. It's wistful, yearning music aided by the two lead vocals of Brown and Ewing.

"Some of it sounds like it was written in the '20s all the way to the R.E.M. sounding stuff," Brown said.

With Ewing's main band of Messerly and Ewing on hiatus, this proved to be the perfect musical project.

"It is giving David and I an outlet for tunes that just haven't fit in with our other bands," Ewing said. "Scott was looking to do something different and I think it just gelled from the start."

Why Rabbit Hash? The historic river town that feels frozen in a bygone time has quietly become the tri-state Sunday showcase for authentic bluegrass and mountain music. That's not news to the town's residents, who have gathered Sundays for years at the town's historic general store for the potluck supper and pickin'. People can see the finest local and area musicians.

For the past three years Brown has brought Cincinnati musicians to Rabbit Hash on some Sundays, usually bands and musicians with a following. Often on those occasions the gigs are moved to the larger barn a field away from the general store.

Brown said at first the Rabbit Hash folks thought his friends might be a little too loud and rocking for their tastes. But he told them, "I know 250 songs. I pretty much play what the people want to hear."

So Brown has helped educate musicians and fans about the Rabbit Hash musical secret. He makes sure the music is authentic and is a unique outlet for many of the area's finest players.

"When we started the barn dances I'd invite everybody I know that plays quiet. I sort of act as the Cincinnati scout going and pulling people down. Then people started showing up Sundays and it's really starting to grow."

For example, a couple weeks ago members of Cincinnati's long-running Modulators got unplugged, bringing 100 of their fans as they performed a barn dance as the Modifieds.

Brown said there is something magical about playing Sundays in Rabbit Hash. This from a guy who has played everywhere from the tri-state to Nashville for 40 years, often 200 gigs a year.

"The first time I played there I realized I hadn't had a real gig until I played in Rabbit Hash. It makes you realize where this music grew from. It is the kind of place Hank Williams would have shown up at. And he probably did."

The Catalog Cowboys hope to have their five-cut CD available for sale at Sunday's barn dance.

"It's $5. A dollar a song," Brown said. "And I'll guarantee if you don't like a song I'll give you a dollar back."

- By Rick Bird - Cin Post


Our first EP "American Roots Stew" is out now. mp3s can be found on our site.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Catalog Cowboys is an eclectic musical outlet for members of three of the Cincinnati area’s best bands. David Rhodes Brown, John Schmidt, and Doug Waggoner where founding members of the Warsaw Falcons. Scott Risner was the long time mandolin player for the Comet Bluegrass all-stars and Brian Ewing is half of the singer/songwriter duo of Messerly and Ewing. The question that gets asked over and over after shows is “what do you call this kind of music?” It’s understandable when you mix up Rock, Roots, Folk, Bluegrass, Alternative, and Alt Country. We like to call it original American Roots Stew. It’s nothing for us of start a set with a blistering Rocker, then move on to a Pop Ballad, followed by at Bluegrass Hoedown. We feel we can play any style with enough conviction to carry the crowd. The thing that makes this band unique is our deep understanding and respect for all forms of American music. We could spend days locked in a room telling stories from the trenches. But even after all the time each cowboy has spent writing and playing music we have managed not to become cynical. We all still truly enjoy getting together each week to play each others tunes.