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The cowboy life through song

Band brings back, celebrates, and spreads western culture and values

Posted: February 9, 2009 1:05 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The Cross Town Cowboys record and perform original and traditional Western music.

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Not too long ago, Santa Clarita was a bustling center for cowboys. Dirt roads. Rolling hills along the horizon as the sun said goodnight. Get-togethers around a raging campfire where stories and jokes were exchanged and songs were sung. Western songs, of course. "Home, home on the range" style.

As the years went by, paved roads covered dirt ones, big buildings were erected in clusters, cars replaced horses and the cowboy way of life slowly began to disappear into the sunset.

But it's not dead yet. Nor will it ever die out. Not if the Cross Town Cowboys can help it.

Dusty Hart, a lone cowboy singer looking for a musical home, drooled over a guitar at one of the vendors at the 2006 Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. He contemplated buying it.

"I have too many guitars as it is," he thought to himself.

He walked away and enjoyed mingling with other cowboys and cowgirls.

Walking through the crowded street, he ran into an old friend and fellow cowboy, Buck Corbit.

Corbit stood next to a man holding a guitar case.

It looked brand knew.

"Dusty, this is Buffalo Bryan," Corbit said. Buffalo Bryan Marr, also a lone cowboy singer looking for a musical home, reached out his right hand.

"You bought the guitar," Dusty said right away. It was the same guitar he looked at earlier with googily eyes.

Dusty asked if he could see the guitar and strum it a bit.

"Wow, this guy is good," Buffalo Bryan thought to himself as Dusty finished. His style matched his own.

"Want to start a collaboration?" he asked.

"Sure!" Dusty said, automatically jumping into a conversation about potential lyrics for future songs.

And the two lone singing cowboys started writing western music together. Saddled in with their cowboy hats and boots, they called themselves Cross Town Cowboys, united in their passion for western music and spreading the cowboy message to always do the right thing.

The band's goal is to help western music return to the forefront of American culture. They hope to lend the public a hand in the return to the values set by cowboy heroes.

"Being cowboys, we have Christian values," Buffalo Bryan said. "They are cowboy values too."

Sweet ol' sounds
The Cross Town Cowboys record and perform original and traditional Western music.

"This is the kind of music my mom used to sing to me," Dusty said.

About five years ago, Dusty was playing jazz, rock and pop music. One day, he went to a theater in El Segundo which was built in 1910. A band was performing and the laid-back notes of old western music drowned his ears in pleasure.

"I should be playing this," Dusty said. "I can do this."

He's been playing western music ever since.

Buffalo Bryan lives in Acton. He moved there 20 years ago to get in touch with his inner cowboy.

In the spring of 2008, the Cross Town Cowboys released their long-anticipated debut CD, "Save the West!" It's now receiving worldwide radio airplay and has made numerous "Top Ten" lists.

By summer, the two-piece act decided it was time to expand, and started searching for a third cowboy to complete the ensemble.

It was hard for Dusty and Buffalo Bryan to find a third member because most candidates had a hard time committing to the band.

Robby Bausch was one of 200 auditions interested in joining the band.

"We were like kindred spirits," Dusty said about Robby.

Even though Robby had always played solo in the past, his commitment soared higher than any hawk flying in the open sky.

This is the first group he's ever played with.

"And with any luck, it'll be the last," he said.

With Dusty's jazz, rock and pop background, Buffalo Bryan's rock background, and Robby's thumb-picking folk background, the trio produce original and authentic western music.

"If you're going to write original material, you've got to have original sound," Buffalo Bryan said. "I think we have that. We're trying to sound like cowboys. Cowboys in harmony."

Western music should not be confused with country music.

"Western music is about the big sky, campfires," Buffalo Bryan explained. "Country is about dysfunctional relationships."

Dusty plays guitar, mandolin and the fiddle. He's also the lead singer.

Robby plays the guitar and Buffalo Bryan plays the contrabass. Both are learning how to play the accordion and the banjo.

"What burns faster? A banjo or an accordion?" Buffalo Bryan asked. "Who cares?"

"What's the difference between a banjo and a trampoline? You take off your shoes to jump on the trampoline," he joked.

With rehearsals twice a week, these cowboys spend a lot of time together.

"We never missed a rehearsal," Buffalo Bryan said.

"That's not true!" Dusty interjected. "Buff missed one, but that was due to a snowstorm."

"Yeah, I couldn't get out," Buffalo Bryan said. "Not my fault."

The boys believe very deeply in the positive power of music to inspire. Nothing is more gratifying to an artist than to touch and impact someone through music, they said.

"We want to make the world a better place, introduce a kid to acoustic guitar, or open a person's heart," Dusty said. "Sick children have a special place in my heart. Songs make them happy."

The Cross Town Cowboys performed in Rosamond early in the year at the Rosamond Center for Performing Arts. It was part of a fundraiser for a scholarship.

"Young kids are very open-minded," Buffalo Bryan said referring to their view on music. "It's kinda cool."

The band enjoys playing for new crowds of people who don't typically listen to their type of music.

"It's fun to play for people who don't expect us," Buffalo Bryan said. "We don't want to play at western-only events. We want to play at places where people won't expect our sound. We want to see other people's reactions."

The Cross Town Cowboys always walk away from a show with a new friend.

Sweet ol' words
There is a message behind western music and living the cowboy life, a message worth supporting and spreading.

The Cross Town Cowboys want to "use music to spread the word to do the right thing," Dusty said. "Doing something right because its right. Too many people do whatever is easy."

Many fans are touched by the band's music and message and get involved with the band.

"People are reached by our message and they want to help spread it," Buffalo Bryan said. "People want to volunteer for us. It's nice to have people go up and bat for you."

The boys will continue producing authentic western music, spreading good cowboy values wherever they can - at shows, at festivals, on the radio.

"There are stations that play our music," Dusty said. "It's exciting for us and good for western music."
"Yeah, and our outfits are just the icing on the cake," Robby joked.

"What outfits?" Buffalo Bryan asked.

Despite their desire to play everywhere and anywhere they can, the purpose of playing western music is to perform for the people.

"We're not just musicians, we're entertainers," Robby said. "When we finish a show, people are just happy."

"I've been a musician a long time," Dusty said. "The biggest reward is the applause."

The western music culture consists of a lot supportive musicians.

"They listen to us and we listen to other musicians." Buffalo Bryan said. "We've got to get the message back to us, too."

Gene Autry, a wildly popular recording, movie, and television cowboy superstar of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, created a set of rules known as the Cowboy Code, or Cowboy Commandments, in response to his young radio listeners aspiring to be just like him in his day.

His cowboy code reflected the characters he portrayed: Men of high moral character that stood for everything that was good, decent and fair.

Some of the commandments included "The cowboy must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him," and "He must always tell the truth."

These messages continue to thrive in today's world because of western acts like the Cross Town Cowboys.

Autry's old cabin still exists in Santa Clarita. Buffalo Bryan frequents it whenever he can.

"I sit in the green room," he said. "Soaking up the Gene. It's a spiritual place for me."

People often mistake these good ol' western lads for something they're not.

"When people see hats, see boots, they think rednecks," Buffalo Bryan said. "No. We're cowboys."

"We're good to everybody." Dusty said.

And so the Cross Town Cowboys are out to "Save The West" with their music, one good cowboy and cowgirl at a time.

For more information about the trio, listen to samples of their music and see upcoming performances, visit www.crosstowncowboys.com/blank.html.

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