The Band


How did Cap Gun get on its feet? If you reallllly want to know, and realllly want to read about it……here ya go: Of course, the musical influences that impacted The Cap Gun Cowboys were working throughout the lives of the band members… but the seeds of what would become the band were planted at a Jayhawks/Freddy Jones Band concert at the Odeon Concert Club in Cleveland in October of 1997.

Phil had recently moved to the Cleveland area and was settling in to grad school at Case Western Reserve… Greg had recently taken an architecture job. In addition to their keen interest in traditional country music, both were fans of the alt-country movement that was just getting in to full swing at that time, including bands like Uncle Tupelo and its progeny (Wilco and Son Volt), Whiskeytown, the Jayhawks, Golden Smog, the Old 97’s. Both Greg and Phil attended the Jayhawks concert solo…and both played air guitar straight through.

Greg noted Phil’s exceptional skill on the air guitar and suggested a jam session to see if anything would shake out. Both had played in a few bands in the past, in high school and college (one of Greg’s former bandmates, Eric - who is designing this web page right now - has sat in with Cap Gun), and both were eager to get back to musical collaboration.

They played with various other Cleveland musicians, before getting together with the first semi-permanent member of the ensemble, Jeff O’Donnell. Greg had attended grad school with Jeff, and the two had found themselves playing and singing as an acoustic duo at the architecture studio, and at various parties and events. Jeff was a very enthusiastic member of the band (called Tweed at that time) until his first-born daughter claimed the practice room as a nursery…..None of this working out, Phil and Greg played some gigs as a duo, playing a mix of originals and covers, including a twangified version of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” and a Whiskeytown medley featuring the trombone.

In the spring of 1999, guitar-crazy Todd Myers introduced Greg to Mike Chipchak, who in turn brought along bassist Mark Loncarevic to put together the first complete lineup, with bass, drums, and guitars. Mike and Mark had played in bands in the past, such as Barking Dogma, and Inhale Mary, and although a bit skeptical about the so-called “country” music Greg and Phil were playing, they stuck it out and helped flesh out the existing songs, while building a catalog of new material. Always on the move, Phil decided to leave the newly-formed band for a while, as well as the country, and live in Thailand for a year, which left a vacant spot in the lineup. Guitar-crazy Todd filled in on lead guitar for a while, as did his alter-ego Tad Bluhm. The band also took on Erin Kelly, who added another vocal dimension to the band. The band began to gig, playing bookstores, coffeeshops, and parties, and started recording material in Mike’s basement studio.

(Still reading? We’re almost there!!!)

Phil returned stateside in September of 2000, at about the same time that Erin followed some guy to Chicago. Tad had also left the band by this time, leaving Greg to pick up the slack on lead guitar (something that is still in progress!) The band began working harder than ever to solidify material, playing their first gigs at the Maple Grove Tavern, the Beachland Ballroom, the Grog Shop, and Dick’s Last Resort in the next year. By the fall of 2001, things were going well, but Mike took an opportunity to play with the Lords of the Highway. Cap Gun was without a drummer (and a practice space!! Thanks Matt, Willie, and Sugar!!) for a while, and Smitty “drum whore” Webb (The Rocket 88’s, The Red Star Rangers, The Tabloid Twangers ) graciously filled in during the spring of 2002. Will Douglas (Carlos Jones and the P.L.U.S. Band, The Janglers) played with the band for a few months before he too left to pursue other interests. After a summer of auditioning drummers, Todd Nelson (Ace and the Ragers, Tough Guy) became the latest and greatest addition to the band, and performed his first gig with the band after 4 weeks of practice. Hard to believe that was over a year ago, but Todd has really helped bring the band up to speed, so to speak.

The lineup stands with Todd Nelson on drums, Mark on electric bass, Phil on trombone and acoustic guitars, and Greg playing electric guitar and accordion. The band has been gigging regionally, and is currently in the studio recording the followup to its debut release on Rust Belt Recordings (check it out!)

Update 10 Dec 04: Work on the second record is almost finished, and should be released in early 2005 on Rust Belt Records. The album has been recorded entirely on analog tape, and features a few guest musicians and a handful of new songs and a couple of old favorites. Watch for the CD Release party in February/March!