Van Morrison tribute band The Belfast Cowboys and its off-shoot band St Dominic's Trio have released albums. The Belfast Cowboys have released a self-titled on Frozen Rope Records in 2008 while the St Dominic's trio album is called Switch. Cover bands just don't do this sort of thing! If they do they don't tend to sell well outside of the band's geographic base as most fans of the covered artist would prefer the originals. It does show the band's confidence in itself as interpreters of Van's music. Minneapolis' The Belfast Cowboys not only do Van Morrison's material justice, they capture the vibrancy and energy of Morrison from his Them days.
The Belfast Cowboys CD opens with Cleaning Windows (Minneapolis version); its true to the original version while adding some local flavour. The Funk/R&B underpinnings of this song are as fine as Morrison ever imagined and it gets the album off on the right foot. The album's second song, Wild Night is a treat. Lead singer Terry Walsh performs a bit of musical transubstantiation here, nearly projecting the essence of Morrison for the first of several performances on The Belfast Cowboys. Walsh leads the band through reverent and coherent readings of Into The Mystic, Real Real Gone, Bright Side Of The Road and several other Morrison classics but hits a musical climax on Jackie Wilson Says. The whole band is inspired on this song and you forget for three minutes that you're listening to a cover band. Other highlights include Bright Side Of The Road, Caravan and Precious Time.
The Belfast Cowboys are a first class cover band. The nine-piece band provide a window on Van Morrison the performer 35 years ago. The energy and joy of that young man have been replaced by the wisdom and serenity of the consummate performer who is still musically active today, but longtime Morrison fans will appreciate this honest and reverent look back on the young man he was.
The Belfast Cowboys was formed on St Patrick's Day, 2002. The nine-piece band collapses down to the three piece St Dominic's Trio for some shows. The band features several veterans of the Minneapolis music scene, including singer Terry Walsh and sax man Vic Volare. In August, 2009, The Belfast Cowboys headlined at BB King's Blues Bar in Times Square, New York City.
In July, 2010, The Belfast Cowboys played a three hour set for a crowd of 15,000 while opening for Chicago in Stillwater, Minnesota. In March, 2011 The Belfast Cowboys played shows in Ireland. In July of the same year The Belfast Cowboys played at Moondance Jam in Walker, Minnesota. In 2012 and 2013 the two bands played over 250 shows combined .
The Cowboys have become one of Minnesota's most popular bands, playing monthly shows at Lee's Liquor Lounge and Whiskey Junction, travelling only when their feet get itchy or the offer is too good to refuse. St Dominic's Trio plays every Tuesday at Nye's, monthly at Morrissey's, and one weekend a month at Kieran's in downtown Minneapolis.
Meanwhile if you're looking for a great Van show in Ireland and Northern Ireland this year check out this blog's favourite Van tribute called Celtic Soul. Looks like they have a full schedule for this year. If you're planning a trip to Northern Ireland or Dublin this year check out the current concert schedule below:
31st January 2015 - Black Box, Belfast
21st Feb 2015 - The Hot Spot, Greystones Co Wicklow
28th Feb 2015 - Market Place Theatre, Armagh
21st March 2015 - Spirt Store, Dundalkm
28th March 2015 - Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick
24th April 2015 - Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey
15th May 2015 - Purty Kitchen, Dublin
28th June 2015 - Antrim Castle Gardens, Antrim
26th Sept 2015 - The Black Box, Belfast
24th Oct 2015 - Mill Theatre, Dublin
6th Nov 2015 - Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
21st Nov 2015 - Ardhowan, Enniskillen