Cowboy Johnson
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Cowboy Johnson


Band Americana Country


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The best kept secret in music


"Cowboy Johnson's debut CD,"A Grain of Sand", was selected as number 10 on Texas music writer Tom Geddie's list,"25 Essential Texas-Related CDs from 2004""

25 Essential Texas-Related CDs from 2004
Texas music writer Tom Geddie's list of "25 Essential Texas-Related CDs from 2004" was first published in the January 2005 issue of "BUDDY" (THE ORIGINAL TEXAS MUSIC MAGAZINE).
10. Cowboy Johnson, A Grain of Sand: A Collection of Mickey Newbury Songs, MoonHouse: The combination of newly discovered singer doing classic songs is potent. The performances are so unexpectedly good that they resonate deeply. Johnson almost - without being silly about the thought - channels Newbury on songs.
- Lone Star Webstation Music News

"Texas Platters"

Texas Platters

Cowboy Johnson
A Grain of Sand (MoonHouse) "Cowboy Johnson" isn't a name anyone but the most hardcore Austin music fan is likely to recognize, but A Grain of Sand could very well change that. Johnson, currently a Wimberley resident, has been around the block a few times. UK born with the name Kent, he spent most of his life in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he acquired the nickname "Cowboy." He's been in recovery from alcoholism and addiction for 24 years, gone through four divorces, worked as a carpenter most his life, and moved to Austin in 1996. As his first effort, Johnson has chosen to record a tribute to Mickey Newbury, considered one of the finest of all Texas songwriters when he passed away in 2002. With the production help of Chris Gage, Johnson wraps his silky voice around 12 Newbury tunes, country classics like "Sweet Memories," "How I Love Them Old Songs," and "Why You Been Gone So Long" alongside such obscurities as "Wish I Was," "Lead On," and "You've Always Got the Blues." Performed in a subtle, swinging manner, Johnson sands the edges off of a couple of Newbury's darker numbers like "Frisco Depot." Newbury's ever-engaging way with a lyric and his unforgettable melodies in conjunction with Johnson's relaxed delivery and Cage's understated arrangements make A Grain of Sand an unexpected delight.

- The Austin Chronicle

"Texas Top 10s"

Texas Top 10s

Jim Caligiuri
1) Slaid Cleaves, Wishbones (Philo)

2) Cooper's Uncle, Greenwood

3) Eliza Gilkyson, Land of Milk and Honey (Red House)

4) Grupo Fantasma, Movimiento Popular (Aire Sol)

5) Cowboy Johnson, A Grain of Sand (MoonHouse)

6) Li'l Cap'n Travis, ... In All Their Splendor (Glurp)

7) James McMurtry & the Heartless Bastards, Live in Aught-Three (Compadre)

8) Meat Purveyors, Pain by Numbers (Bloodshot)

9) Old 97s, Drag It Up (New West)

10) Dale Watson, Dreamland (Koch)
- The Austin Chronicle

"CD review of "A Grain of Sand""

by William Michael Smith

MoonHouse Records 2004

The opening strains of Cowboy Johnson's tribute to Houston's songwriting favorite son Mickey Newbury instantly conjure the remarkable resurrection of Jerry Lee Lewis. After his fall from rock and roll grace, the Killer reinvented himself as a country singer in 1968, and his exquisite 1970 interpretation of Newbury's "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye" continued an amazing string of Lewis hits that became legendary hard-core honky-tonk classics and marked Lewis as a singular country stylist.

Wimberley's Johnson, working with Austinite Chris Gage, pays homage to the master songsmith with a 12-track sampling from the songbook of the prolific Newbury. Some of the selections, like "Sweet Memories," "How I Love Them Old Songs" and "Why You Been Gone So Long," are instantly recognizable by connoisseurs of country music, but Johnson also has wisely chosen some of Newbury's most worthy obscurities like "Wish I Was," "Lead On" and "You've Always Got the Blues."

Johnson's mellow voice recalls Mickey Gilley before he became a Vegas pop singer, and Gage's minimalist arrangements put the spotlight squarely where it belongs: on Newbury's incomparable lyrics. Locals should get a kick out of Johnson's revival of "If You Ever Get to Houston (Look Me Down)," another stone-cold honky-tonk classic, and one that Don Gibson made famous as the title track to his 1977 album. While Newbury could be uplifting when he wanted to, his true brilliance was in gritty details and down-and-out characterizations of men often one step from divorce or the Salvation Army. In "Mobile Blue," Newbury paints an accurate picture of an archetypal Houstonian who "headed south to work the pipeline" and wound up losing his woman. It doesn't get any more down-Houston-home than this: "somebody musta told her that I trifled and I lied / they saw me drunk in Mobile with some wired-up chick from Jacksonville / and, brother, did we look like we could fly."

Newbury remains the only songwriter to ever have songs in four separate charts at once (country, R&B, easy listening and pop/rock), and Cowboy Johnson's Grain of Sand ably demonstrates all the traits that make Newbury's work so diverse and universal.

- Houston Press

"Belgian CD Review "A GRAIN OF SAND""
"A Grain of Sand" van Cowboy Johnson is een erg sober plaatje. Een cd die je snel naast je neer legt wanneer je er met een half oor naar hebt geluisterd aan het eind van een lange dag. Wanneer je echter de tijd neemt voor de debuut-cd van deze zanger voor het label Moonhouse Records, blijkt "A Grain of Sand" een prachtplaat. Dit album bestaat uit een verzameling liedjes van Mickey Newbury, een naam die veel onder u niet veel zal zeggen daar hij reeds op vroege leeftijd is gestorven, maar waar Cowboy Johnson hem met dit album even uit de vergetelheid wil halen. Naast de stem van Mickey zijn er bijdragen van MoonHouse-collega Chris Gage, die de nodige gitaren en dobro voor zijn rekening neemt, Glenn Fukunaga ( die we kennen van o.a. Eliza Gilkyson) op bas, de steelgitaar van Scott Walls en Eddie Cantu op drums. Het door Chris Gage geproduceerde album is misschien geen makkelijke cd, maar het is wel een cd die je vast kan grijpen en vervolgens niet meer loslaat. Bij iedere draaibeurt hoor je weer wat nieuws in de twaalf covers van Johnson, en bij iedere draaibeurt wordt ie mooier. Neem de tijd voor deze cd, je zult er geen spijt van krijgen.
- Rootstime-Belgium


"A Grain of Sand, A collection of Mickey Newbury Songs" on MoonHouse Records, produced by Chris Gage


Feeling a bit camera shy


Cowboy Johnson makes his home in Austin, Texas. The name "Cowboy" has been tattooed on his chest for 30 years now, from his days of rodeo bull riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he spent the 70's working the mines, playing music and living hard. It was there that a disgruntled neighbor, whose mailbox he had shot full of holes one drunken afternoon, declared to the community, "We gotta do something about that damn cowboy!" The name stuck, but has also misrepresented him musically as he is not only a singer of country music. His voice also lends itself naturally and beautifully to R&B. Like many of the great singers, he grew up singing gospel music in the church.

His 2004 CD, “A Grain of Sand” (a tribute to the late Mickey Newbury), has sold well and has been warmly received all over the world. It is currently on radio play lists across Europe and South America as well as Australia. Currently in the process of recording his second CD, this new one will be mostly originals.

In 2004, Cowboy had the honor of being a guest performer at Willie Nelson’s Annual 4th of July Picnic, and has been steadily building a loyal following with regular regional performances.

When the sun sets in the evenings and Cowboy can't work on building/remodeling houses, he can be found at his resident Wednesday night gig at Evangeline Café, in Austin with his trio, consisting of Bradley Kopp on lead guitar and Charlie Irwin on bass.