The Blue Shadows
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; 1990-1995
In the late 1960s when family singing groups were in vogue perhaps the most well known next to the Partridge Family were the Cowsills. They played jingly feel good tunes mostly by teenage heartthrob Billy Cowsill (I still remember a horde of nubile girls squealing and screeching with delight during a Cowsills performance at the State Fair of Texas). After the Cowsills faded, Billy tried his luck around the U.S. as a musician (with J.J. Cale and Joe Ely) and bar owner and failed at both. Finally, in the early 1990s, he went to Canada (Vancouver) where he formed the Billy Cowsill Band, a duo with Elmar Spanier specializing in Hank Williams and Roy Orbison. It evolved into Blue Northern and then the Blue Shadows when Jeffrey Hatcher and Jay Johnson were added. Calling their sound "Hank Goes to the Cavern Club," Cowsill and Hatcher began writing originals, and this resulted in On The Floor of Heaven which delivers some fine 1960s-1970s country rock a la the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the New Riders, et.a. Cowsill and Hatcher trad off vocal duties on country rock ("If It Ain't Rockin"), honky tonk ("The Fool is The Last One to Know"), and tender ballads ("Think On It," "Deliver Me," "Is Anybody Here"), and their Everly Brothers style harmonies are a real treat.
After Barry Muir replaced Spanier in 1993, the Blue Shadows recorded Lucky to Me which offered more of the same although at a more vibrant pace. They toured with a number of major acts (The Band, Crash Test Dummies), had a showcase at SXSW, and were building a following among fans and critics alike when suddenly with everything going their way, they broke up on December 25, 1995.
Billy Cowsill (g,v); Jeffrey Hatcher (l.g., v); Joy Johnson (d); Barry Muir (b); Elmar Spanier (b, 1990-1993)
On the Floor of Heaven/Bumstead Sony Can/1994
Lucky to Me/Sony/1995
The Continental Drifters
Los Angeles, California 1992-1993/
New Orleans, Louisiana 1993-
The Continental Drifters emerged quite by accident when members of established bands began playing together informally at a local A.A. nightspot called Raji's in the early 1990s. Susan Cowsill (Cowsills, Psycho Sisters), Peter Holsapple (dBs, REM), Carlo Nuccio (Tori Amos), Vicki Peterson (Bangles, Psycho Sisters), and Mark Walton (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn, Giant Sand) kept their performances deliberately low key and felt free to experiment with a combination of style including country, rock and soul. They adopted the name Continental Drifters to reflect their commitment to a free flowing arrangement. In 1993, they drifted to New Orleans, developed a following on the local scene and made appearances at the New Orleans jazz Festival and at SXSW in 1994. The core of the Drifters made their first recording as the Walkin' Tacos contributing "A Song for You" to the Gram Parsons' tribute album Commemorativo. After adding guitarist (Robert Mache), the Drifters recorded a self-titled debut album for the fledgling New Orleans label Monkey Hill. The Continental Drifters reflects their early commitment to a loose interpretation of a variety of Americana. In 1996, the band's touring and recording schedule was disrupted somewhat when Nuccio departed and Holsapple joined Hootie and the Blowfish as their temporary keyboard player. However, they quickly found a new drummer, Russ Broussard (ex-Blue Runners) and gained wider exposure after opening a few concerts for Hootie. A live single, "Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway" b/w "Meet on the Ledge" (Richard Thompson) was released in July 1997 on Blue Mountain's Black Dog label and a new full-length, Vermilion, came out in 1998 on Germany's Blue Rose. Recorded in a studio in rural Louisiana and named after a river, Vermilion wraps up the Continental Drifters' trademark roots rock in one neat package. Ex-Drifter Carlo Nuccio made his country rock solo debut in 1998 with Loose Strings.
Russ Broussard (d. 1997-); Susan Cowsill (a.g.,v); Peter Holsapple (b.g, ky,md,slg,v), Rob Ladd (d, 1996-) Robert Mache (e.g., sl g, 1994-); Carlo Nuccio (a.g, d, v to 1996); Vicky Peterson (a.g., e.g., v); Mark Walton (a.g., b)
"A Song for You" (as the Walkin' Tacos) on Commemorativo: A Tribute to Gram Parsons/Rhino/1993
"I Can't Let Go" on Sing Hollies in Reverse: A Tribute to the Hollies/eggBERT/1993
The Continental Drifters/Monkey Hill/1994
"Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway" b/w “Meet on the Ledge”/Black Dog/1997 (7”)
"Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway" on Revival2: Kudzu and Hollerin’ Contest/Yep Roc/1997
"Mixed Messages" on The Blue Rose Collection, Vol. 2/Blue Rose Ger./1997
Vermilion/Blue Rose Ger./1998
Loose Strings (Carlo Nuccio)/Monkey Hill/1998
"When You Dance I Can Really Love" on This Note's For You Too!: A Tribute to Neil Young/Inbetweens Dut./1999