MEET THE BAND:Phil Verhoef (vocals, guitar, trombone), Greg Yanito (vocals, guitar), Todd Nelson (drums), Mark Loncarevic (bass), Kevin Hegedus (guitar), and Mike Chipchak (drums)
BEYOND BORDERS: The seeds of what would become the band were planted at a Jayhawks/Freddy Jones Band concert at the Odeon Concert Club in Cleveland in October of 1997. Verhoef had recently moved to the Cleveland area and enrolled in grad school at Case Western Reserve, and Yanito had recently taken an architecture job. "Phil had long hippy hair, and he was playing air guitar and was singing along to all the songs," says Yanito. "I figured I should talk to the guy. I had long hair at the time too. We quickly figured out we had many musical interests in common. We were into what was alternative in the 1980s. We liked R.E.M. and Bob Mould and Uncle Tupelo." The two had played in a few bands in the past, in high school and college and both wanted to start playing again. They began as a duo, and in the spring of 1999, the first complete lineup came together. It would play a gig at Borders Books, and its first club show came in 2001 when the group opened for Devil in a Woodpile at the Beachland.
THE DEBUT ALBUM: In 2003, it recorded its debut, Girls, Cars, and Smoke-Filled Bars, at producer Ken Brown's local home studio. "It was great," says Yanito when asked about the experience. "We were jangly, and the album was rough-around-the-edges. We were fine with that because it captured the spirit of the band. I enjoyed the rough-around-the-edges aspect because it felt more authentic."
THE SECOND ALBUM: The group cut its second album, Atomic Horsepower, in 2005. It broke up that same year. "We released the record and had the last show on the same day," says Yanito. "It was just due to people moving out of state." The band regrouped and played a number of shows in 2007, including Cleveland and San Francisco. It also played reunion shows in 2012.
CELEBRATING AN ANNIVERSARY: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the band plays this week at the Beachland Tavern. "I still talk to everybody, and we're all still good friends," says Yanito. "I can tell you who's living where and who has kids now, which is half the band. Everyone wanted to do an anniversary show and started practicing almost a year ago. I gave them marching orders, and they've been rehearsing in Cleveland without Phil and me." Mike Devine, who gave the band its first show at Borders and currently owns a gallery in Pittsburgh, will be on hand to DJ.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The group has a number of tracks that hold up well to anything by more renowned alt-country acts. "Bible Belt," a track on Atomic Horsepower, features hiccupping vocals and bit of horns as Yanito cheekily sings, "I can't undo your bible belt." The mid-tempo "Long Gone in Tow" includes a beautiful fiddle solo, and the snotty "Walkin' Home Alone" embraces cowpunk.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: capguncowboys.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Capgun Cowboys perform with Zombo's Record Party at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug 16, at the Beachland Tavern.