|The Cow Ponies|
Next up were the Cow Ponies. Just when you think that Tom Tiedjens (who will be forever known as "X-Cleavers bassist Tom Tiedjens" despite his being in a dozen really good bands since The X-Cleavers called it quits) was going away, he's turned up in yet another good act, the Cow Ponies. He's been veering from his new wave/punk roots towards Americana in small steps anyway, and I'll spare you the old thing about how old punks learn to play their instruments and become rockabilly pickers in their old age. He's paired with John Graham on guitar, with Robin Graham on vocals (and really sweet leopard skin heels) and Andy Stilin (another guy in about thirty bands, three of them current) on drums, and they rounded up a good lap steel guitar man named Keith Bolog to frost this alt-country cake they've baked up. Robin has that sweet-but-don't-piss-her-off voice that works with country in general, and the whole thing actually leans more toward the "Western" side of "Country and Western."
|Devil Met Contention|
This all makes them sound like some depressing, overly important band, but no, they were engaging and not every song was dark and full of minor chords. They were loose and comfortable on stage, and you could tell they were even having fun. But they do have a really varied approach to dynamics and are musically versatile, and kept a Chill on the Hill audience interested (no small feat). I've whined previously that Chill doesn't always take a lot of chances with their booking, and this would've been a chancy pick two years ago, before their buzz hit. But they were a perfect way to wind down on a breezy summer night, and reinforced that I really have to get out more and see the latest crop of Milwaukee bands.
Spotted in the crowd: Tim "Otis" Taylor, there for friendly moral support for the Cow Ponies -- that's a guitar I'm going to need to hear soon. Sitting near the soundboard was the dynamic duo of Dan "Myles" Mullen and his latest partner in musical crime, Elvis Thao, a singer discovered by their mutual dearly departed friend Mark Shurilla. Near the stage: Six Wives of Richard drummer Veechka Starr, whose set last month I shamefully missed. Worse yet, she told me they don't have any gigs coming up any time soon. Same with Two and a Half Stars' Trevor Hyde, who I'm told played a terrific set last Thursday at Frank's Power Plant. They don't have anything booked in the near future either. C'mon SE Wisconsin club owners! Get on this.