Helena singer-songwriter Cowboy Bob Benda and his band, Gypsy Dust, have put some toe-tappin’ tunes on their new album. The brawny sound of Benda’s deep baritone voice colors his 13 originals, cooked up musically with five bandmates: Tim Pool, drums; Chuck Porte, bass; Wally Benjamin, harmonica; Felicia Hellems, fiddle; and Doug Melton, electric guitar. Benda adds rhythm guitar and whistling. Yep, that’s right. It’s hard to do, and Benda can pull it off.
Genres like country-rock, western swing, and what Benda just calls “cowboy music” provide the spice for the collection. I’m also hearing a more exotic sound. For example, “Gypsy Dust” has throaty bites of harmonica and a Cajun rhythm, as Benda sings about the mojo of a ghostly crew of cowboys, à la Ghost Riders.
“Sweet as a Peach” has a spicy New Orleans flair, too, with its bubbly tempo; Benda swings and sways with praise for his sweetie on this one. The drum and bass work are first-rate, and harmonica, fiddle and guitar glue the piece together.
“Cool Mountain Breeze,” with its infectious beat, is a good dancer, and the lively two-stepper “Howl at the Moon” has wolf howls, natch. In “Rockin’ Chair,” a peppy blues song, the band gets to jam a bit.
“I Love You Like You Are” is imbued with a jumpin’ jive sound, and “Buffalo Range” has a moody tone, with heart-rending fiddle answering Benda’s mournful opening. It’s a song about how we’ve lost so much of our heritage by all the fast-moving changes of late.
The title song, “Rise Up Warrior,” has a western flair and a strong message for us to come together and make this world a better one. It’s an inspirational finale.
Visit the band on Facebook.
– Mariss McTucker