Sunday, February 20, 2011

St. Charles band Kampfire Kowboys back together, rustling up a new sound



By ERIC SCHELKOPF

After being on hiatus for several years, St. Charles band Kampfire Kowboys is back together, and they are ready to create a new group of fans.

This time around, the members of Kampfire Kowboys are emphasizing their country influences even more in their music. To that end, they have added a fiddle player, Ray Henaughan, who has played in numerous country and bluegrass bands during his career.

The band's current lineup consists of original members Tom Colton on lead vocals and guitar, Dave Piper on bass and vocals, and new members Henaughan and drummer Nick Gee.

Kampfire Kowboys will debut its new incarnation at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at Penny Road Pub, 28W705 Penny Road Pub, Barrington. More information is at www.kampfirekowboys.com.

I had the chance to talk to Colton about his decision to reform Kampfire Kowboys and his goals for the band.

Q - What's the idea behind the new incarnation of Kampfire Kowboys?

The idea was to put this back together and be a country band, and play country music as close to traditional as possible.

I'm going to play country guitar. I'm not going to play rock guitar as much, maybe a little bit if it calls for it.

The show is about vocals and my lead guitar playing and the fiddle player. And that's different than the old Kampfire Kowboys. It's going to be sort of a rockin' back and forth between fiddle and guitar.

Q - What should people expect from your shows?

I've kind of put together a country band that does covers, songs that people know, and then just throw the Kampfire Kowboys songs at them as we go along.

The energy level is still going to be there for Kampfire Kowboys. That's not going to change. It's still going to be a things flying off the stage type of sound.

Q - You were in a number of rock bands after Kampfire Kowboys had broken up. What made you want to get Kampfire Kowboys back together?

I can sing Tom Petty for the rest of my life. I can sing Styx or whatever else I was doing with Centerfold. But it doesn't do anything for me.

But when I sing, "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down" or "There Goes My Heart" by The Mavericks, I just love singing that stuff. It's just fun.

And playing guitar in a country band, it's challenging. It's constantly moving. It moves from one chord to the other. So you are really moving around a lot. It's almost like progressive rock.

Q - How has adding the fiddle changed the band's sound?

This new Kampfire Kowboys is more about playing country music. The best way to put it is that we are still a country rock band, but with due respect to traditional country music.

We like traditional country music. Traditional could be Brooks and Dunn, it could be The Mavericks or Dwight Yoakam, or even going back to Waylon Jennings.

So it's not like traditional country music that goes back to the 1930s and '40s so much, but more that goes back to the '70s and '80s.

Q - It's certainly not Taylor Swift, then.

No. Although were are doing some Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. I like Brad Paisley a lot. He's probably my favorite artist right now.

He's a fantastic guitar player. I certainly can't emulate everything he does, but I can give it a good go.

In the middle of all that, we're putting in Kampfire Kowboys songs, and they fit right in. They do.

I guess it's what I could have done 10 years ago, but that wasn't in the cards at that time.

Q - What are the band's future plans?

I'd like for the band to release a third CD. I have maybe seven new songs now, but I'm putting that on hold because I want to get this going.

I think this is where I fit in. The music business is really, really rough, so you have to be in the right place and happy in that place. This is the right place for me.

It's not playing Tom Petty. It's doing my music, doing The Mavericks, doing Dwight Yoakam. This is the kind of stuff I really like.

I'm looking for an audience, and I think the country audience is where I need to go.