“"Like the Grateful Dead before us, we are not a studio band. And not a typical bar band. We are a band that lets Cowboy Neal take the wheel and we just try to hang on and go with it."”
— Dave Dardine
Cowboys Dead is a Wellington, Colorado based Grateful Dead tribute band that has been playing together over 7 years. A Cowboys Dead show transports you back in time and space to the Pig Pen era of the late 60’s/early 70’s when the Dead’s rhythm and blues, folk and country roots were still deeply embedded in their music even as they experimented with the psychedelic jams that became their hallmark. They don't try to exactly copy any one recording or show, instead, they use the music as a springboard for their own explorations, always keeping the music fresh, honest and eminently enjoyable.
Cowboys Dead plays 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, bringing to today's audiences great Pig Pen 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, May 2, 1970. The set list from that show became a loose road map for the band, on a road with no signs or dividing lines and very few rules to guide.
"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.
Dave Dardine 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 R&B to jazz and reggae. Dave is a seasoned musician, and has had the honor of opening shows for Phish, George Thorogood, Winona Ryder, Merle Saunders and Coco Montoya.
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 popular regional bands before joining up with Cowboys Dead.
Doug Salmon 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.
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 Cowboys Dead lineup on drums. A longtime fixture in the Colorado music scene, Dave's knowledge and love of Grateful Dead music comes through in his drumming.