Cowboy Band Doconstructs the Prairie (and Conrad Benjamin)

Cowboy Band is composed of students from New England and Boston Conservatories. It is a rough and tumble, cerebral group of growing stars, with a plethora of alternative/cool takes on country and western music. Deft, with spot-on arrangements and interchange, they can be rocking, heartbreaking and ironic. Songs change abruptly as they go along, shifting from one of these qualities to the next, and back.

Andrew Clinkman, singer and guitarist, draws much inspiration from The Band. Bassist Jesse Healy has fine, swooping range, rubber-banding and boomeranging the group and songs into new places at every turn. Ethan Parcells is the drummer, and he’s got good rolling power, and he’s like a kitchen appliance, electric mixer, say, transforming the songs into something tasty and edible for a party.

I saw Cowboy Band perform last night at a house in Jamaica Plain, first alone, second with shy, charismatic singer/songwriter Conrad Benjamin, who goes by “Con Tex”, who is a litter older and just got back from a national tour shepherding the younger guys through cities, from Detroit to Chicago.

I’ve seen both acts before and after the tour, and it is clear how much they grew from the touring, especially together, where Benjamin has evolved some good qualities as a leader. Together they are like a happening Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, so good the girls’ eyes were glistening in admiration as they watched on at the party last night.

Benjamin has been producing some limited run CDs out of his home, which are intelligent and good in a rough around the edges kind of way. He’s a great writer, both of melody and lyrics. Cowboy band also has a great new self-titled CD out. But it’s when the two are together that they really shine, and you see a great new star act in the making. Let’s hope they do more playing around town and some recording together.

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