We are dedicated to the music of Ron Pigpen McKernan, the man Jerry Garcia described as the 'heart and soul' of the Grateful Dead." - Dave Dardine
Cowboys Dead first formed in 2007 to explore the music of Marty Robbins, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Reed, Don Nix, Merle Haggard, New Riders, Rolling Stones, Peter Rowan and more...in the spirit of the Grateful Dead. With a passion for the sound of Dead in the early 70s, Cowboys Dead reaches deep into the the Dead's repertoire, playing great Pigpen era tunes such as Smokestack Lightning, Mr. Charlie, Alligator and It Hurts Me Too.
Cowboys Dead founder and lead guitarist, Dave Dardine, came up with the name from a bootleg Grateful Dead LP with the same name. The Cowboy's Dead LP was recorded live at Harpur College, May 2, 1970. The set list from that show became a loose road map for the band.
"Cowboys Dead" is also a tip of the hat to the late, great "Cowboy" Neal Cassady, the larger-than-life man who infamously was at the wheel and whose ineffable spirit lives on in the writings of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg and Ken Kesey, and certainly in the music of the Grateful Dead.
The core band consists of Dave Dardine on lead guitar and vocals, Ken Duran on rhythm guitar and vocals, Doug Salmon on bass guitar, Ed Anderson on vocals and harp, and Dave White on drums and vocals.
Dave Dardine, an NY native, got on the bus at first his Dead show at Dillon Stadium in 1974 which he credits for turning him on to what happens when the music plays the band. He leads Cowboys Dead with a drive and passion for excellence in live music. Never satisfied with the surface, Dave has spent a lifetime digging deep into the roots of the Grateful Dead sound, especially the music that influenced Jerry Garcia - from bluegrass to blues to jazz and reggae. Dave is a well known musician along the front range, having played in such bands as Common Ground, Vegetable Stew, the Howlers, Rounder, and the Agave Brothers. In addition to Cowboy's Dead, Dave also plays with an eclectic and loose consortium of musicians steeped in blues, jazz and jam called the Dave Dardine Project.
Ken Duran brings a mid-western twang to Cowboys Dead, having grown up in eastern Nebraska before migrating to Colorado in the late 80's. Over the years, Ken has played in several bands including Shutdown Friday, Crow For Day, Bitter Dregs, Dishwasher Safe, and the Dave Dardine Project before joining up with Cowboys Dead.
Doug Salmon hails from SLC Utah and has played in a variety of bands since 1978, including Connie & the Rhythm Method, The Bachelors, The Ambivalents, Mr. Baby, Backwash, Bent, Second Hand Smokers, and the Dave Dardine Project. He has played a variety of styles, including Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Ska, Funk, Soul, R & B, and Rock. He has performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, traveled on a Reggae tour through Montana, and played a host of venues in Utah and Northern Colorado. In addition to playing bass with Cowboys Dead, Doug currently plays saxophone with the Absolutes.
Ed Anderson cut his harp playing teeth at local Blues Jams. His vocals have been compared to the great Willy Nelson, and he plays his harp with his whole heart and soul. Ed is another Nebraska transplant, and he brings to Cowboys Dead a real-ness and authenticity that can best be described by the immortal words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam".
Dave White completes the line up on drums. Originally from the great state of Mississippi, Dave has been a staple on the Front Range music scene for many years, and also currently drums for Peaches Embry. Dave has an encyclopedic knowledge of the early Grateful Dead and can recount shows with amazing clarity and detail. Just try and stump him!