When a band picks the name Reggae Cowboys, you can assume they’re either being sneeringly ironic in an early-’90s alt-rock way, or they’re making music that combines Caribbean stylings with Texas twang. In this case, it’s the latter, believe it or not, and it works better than you think.
The Reggae Cowboys, based in Toronto, are a complete musical mutation, but in a good way. These guys play git-down cowboy music — not country music, if you get the nuance of the difference — with deadly rock-solid reggae rhythms and traditional Jamaican vocals.
The current lineup of the band has singer-guitarists Stone Ranger and Clic Master Sync backed by Keith and Alex, whom I guess haven’t earned their official Reggae Cowboy stage names yet. I don’t know.
I saw these guys in 1998 or so and bought their first CD, Tell The Truth, at the show. It really isn’t my kind of music, and is, I think, the only reggae in my collection (aside from the obligatory Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits). Come to think of it, I don’t have much country music, either.
So why did these guys touch a chord with me? Couldn’t tell you. But the first time I heard them play, I felt like a high plains drifter, six-gun at my hip, dreadlocks under my cowboy hat. It’s really cool stuff and deserves to be heard.
Their other albums — Pony XPress, Wild West Indian (love that title), Rock Steady Rodeo and Let’s Ride — might not be easy to find, but take the time. You can also order directly from them. Their official site is here.