Cowboy brings his band to town

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It's obvious from looking at the liner notes of the CD "Ranch Dance Ruckus" which song Interstate Cowboy is most proud of recording.

Other songs have a line or two explaining their origins, but an entire page is devoted to the story of how "I Want to be a Fireman" was written and how it ended up on the CD. Behind the words are pictures of firefighters and the arm patches of the New York Fire Department.

Interstate Cowboy lead singer Tim Champlin is a fire fighter in Fort Collins and wrote the song as a tribute to firefighters after Sept. 11, 2001. In the 7-minute country song, Champlin sings about a little boy who wants to be a firefighter.

"That song originally wasn't going to be on the CD," Champlin said. "I just needed to write it, because that whole thing just floored me. It knocked me down."

It was when he had a New York firefighter in his living room and he played the song, that Champlin decided more people might want to hear it.

He put down his guitar and saw tears in the man's eyes.

"I'm proud of that song. I wanted to show the positive side of being a fireman," Champlin said. "It's not a song we do very much, because it's pretty somber."

The song opens with a bagpipe solo -- a sound heard at every firefighter's funeral service. Champlin had friends John Magnie and Steve Amedee from the Subdudes play with him on the song.

"If you don't listen to any other song on the CD, listen to that one," he said.

The rest of the album is less somber with music written more in the "tribute to the truck driver" tradition of country music.

Champlin has been around music his whole life. His father, who passed away last fall, was a singer/songwriter who put out a country record in the 1960s and recorded another album four years ago.

"He sounded like Hank Williams Sr. and Earnest Tubbs," Champlin said. "I cut my teeth on that music."

Champlin plays with a member of his father's band from the '60s, Dick Meiss, on steel and lead guitar. They will be joined on stage tonight and Saturday by Grant Gordy on mandolin and lead guitar; Kurt Ohlen, a veteran of the Denver rockabilly scene, on upright bass; and Barry Newman on drums.

Interstate Cowboy goes back to the roots of the genre for its sound, which Champlin compares to Asleep at the Wheel or Bob Wills.

"If you don't play top-40 country, you have to work a little harder, but I think the mainstream is finally pulling into this kind of music."

This will be the band's first time playing in Steamboat.

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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