Two pop relics have found themselves a new life in the Blue Shadows, a hot new country band based in Vancouver.
Billy Cowsill, former lead singer of an American family band, called the Cowsills – the group responsible for hits such as Hair, The Rain, The Park and Other Things and Jeffrey Hatcher \; a onetime member of Canadian pop/rock groups The Fuse, The Six and the Big Beat, are the singing and songwriting team that forms the Blue Shadows’ core.
They met in Vancouver about two years ago, when Cowsill was playing old pop, rock and country tunes on the club circuit. Hatcher remembers checking out Cowsill’s band one night in a Vancouver bar.
“They played three 55-minute sets and I sat there the whole night. I as at the back of the club singing along, singing harmony and thinking I could do what the guitar player was doing,” Hatcher says.
Manager Larry Wanagas introduced the two and they hit it off almost instantly. The other band members – bassist Elmer Spanier and drummer J.B. Johnson – called Hatcher “the missing link.”
“It just seemed right,” Hatcher says. “My guitar playing fit in with the way they all played and I loved singing harmony with Bill. It was all very natural.”
But how do two pop stars end up harmonizing on country songs?
Again hatcher says it just seemed natural. When they first got together to write songs, Cowsill’s management was trying to get him a deal in Nashville, so Hatcher was bringing in the country songs he had already written.
“I think we were in country mode, but we weren’t thinking, ‘Let’s write country songs,’ “ Hatcher says. “We were just going for a certain sound that suited our voices.”
With harmonies that rival the work of the Everly Brothers, songwriting as tight as anything by the Beatles and down-to-earth instrumental backing (based on upright bass, crisp drumming and Hatcher’s high,olonesome guitar work), it’s an organic sound that has already attracted plenty of attention.
Attention, even, from major label Sony Music, which this summer released the group’s first album, On The Floor of Heaven.
“It’s not very Nashville country,” Hatcher admits. “But it seems pretty accessible and people are getting behind it.
“It feels like the right time – without planning for it, things have fallen, and keep falling into place.”
The band plays Zaphod Beeblebrox a 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept 22 with an 8 p.m. opening set by Ottawa country-rockers Black Boot Trio