Interstate Cowboy hails from Masonville, CO, a small town in the Northern reaches of the state not usually known for its thriving music scene. Still, bandleader, singer, and main songwriter Tim Champlin has managed to put together some first-class talent for his band. Standup bass man Gene Libbea played with the Nashville Bluegrass Band, pedal steel ace Dick Meis has toured with Loretta Lynn and Roger Miller, lead guitarist and mandolin player Grant Gordy has played with David Grisman. Drummer Oscar Dezoto completes the lineup. Despite the cowboy garb and band name, this isn't your average country band. Their closest antecedent would be Asleep at the Wheel, who whip up a similar blend of western swing, country, rock, and cowboy jazz, but Interstate Cowboy has even more tricks up their sleeve than the Wheel, including Champlin's first-class songwriting. "I Got Nothin'" opens with a bluesy lament featuring Champlin's soulful crooning, a swinging Latin arrangement marked by Champlin's reggae-like rhythm guitar accents and the Subdudes' John Magnie on the big Hammond B-3. "Everytime She Makes a Mistake" hints at rockabilly with Champlin's echo drenched vocal, then Gordy lays down a solo halfway between Chuck Berry and Les Paul that takes the tune into the jazzy ozone. "Rio Grande Lament" is a swaying Tex-Mex number with Magnie's accordion adding some border flavor. "They Always Go for the Heart" is a classic '40s style late-night saloon ballad with an excellent lyric. Champlin's singing is appropriately blue. The traditional "Frankie and Johnnie" is an easy riding Texas swing number that shows off Meis' steel work and Magnie's boogie woogie piano. The Gershwin's "Lady Be Good" and Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" give the ensemble a chance to show off their chops with Gordy's excellent guitar work and the sliding double-note steel guitar runs of Meis stealing the show.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic