COLDWATER CANYON BAND
BREAKING THE MOLD OF THE TYPICAL
NASHVILLE VIBE, HIGH ENERGY L.A.
BASED INDIE GROUP HAS PLAYED VEGAS
AND ALL OVER THE WEST COAST—BUT
IS ‘JUST GETTING STARTED’
INTRODUCING ITS ‘CALI COUNTRY’
GROOVES TO THE WORLD
Led by Charismatic, Tennessee Raised Frontman Howie
Vaughn, Coldwater Canyon Band’s Latest Single
“Nobody Knows” Hit #2 On Billboard’s Hot Country Singles
Chart and the Top 10 On the Hot Singles Chart
Like the long, winding and hilly Los Angeles street for which it’s named, the Coldwater Canyon Band’s rise in country music includes a lot of intense twists and turns that set it apart from most of today’s Nashville bred and based ensembles. The good news for the group’s thousands of fans across America is expressed in the title of their new album—they’ve been going strong since 2006, but in many ways, they’re Just Getting Started.
Charismatic, high energy frontman and songwriter Howie Vaughn may have been raised on a farm in Tennessee, but he’s a California boy at heart. Years after returning to his birth state as a teenager, he’s still firing up the joint, raising the roof at honky tonks and festivals up and down the West Coast and Las Vegas (including Gilly’s and the Harrah’s outdoor stage on the Strip) with a groove intensive, R&B-hip-hop infused hybrid vibe he calls “Cali Country.”
Driven by Vaughn’s intense onstage energy and showmanship that legends like Garth Brooks could appreciate, they held sway for a few years at The Cowboy Palace in Chatsworth (north of L.A.), but have graduated to larger venues since the widespread success of their two indie albums. They’re renowned for their sparkling, devil’s in the strings performances, their onstage give and take and connection to the crowd—taking the outlaw legend and introducing into it a modern day bump, balancing a mainstream polish and a rough, back porch edge.
Vaughn’s unique hybrid, which adds harder bass, beats and cymbals to a mainstream country-pop sound, has been a sensation at country radio since the release of the Coldwater Canyon Band’s 2008 indie album debut Rollin’ on the L.A. based KBE (KOUNTREEBOYZ ENTERTAINMENT) label. Their first single “Country Girls” rose to #15 on the Billboard Hot Singles Chart (indicating great crossover success). “Nobody Knows,” the new single from the recently released Just Getting Started, reached the Top Ten on the Hot Singles chart and #2 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart—all incredibly impressive stats for a country band from L.A. on an indie label. The track is also getting major airplay via online outlets like the country channel on Music Choice.
Folks in the industry have been showering the band with praise from the beginning. Al Bruno, Grammy winning writer, producer and guitarist for Willie Nelson, says, “Besides being an ultra-talented writer and performer, there’s a lot of passion and honesty in Howie’s voice and writing. He brings energy to country music that the format desperately needs. And he is not afraid to cross the line and go for it.”
Kevin Gerhsan, Producer/Director of “Entertainment Tonight,” adds, “Howie Vaughn’s Coldwater Canyon Band is one of hottest young country bands hitting the scene. Their unique and fresh ‘California’ sound really makes them stand out from the crowd. They are certainly among the ‘Ones To Watch’!”
“In many ways, my story is typical of someone who might grow up to become a country artist,” says Vaughn, “because I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Jr. and Tammy Wynette. I was influenced by the unique ways they had in delivering a song. But my parents were also listening to Motown, and later I loved 2 Live Crew, NWA and Notorious B.I.G. So my sound brings over a lot of flavors of urban music and I’m really excited about the way songs like ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Redneck Soldiers’ from Just Getting Started are being embraced by the African American community. But my inspiration doesn’t stop there! I was also a big fan of Metallica and Journey, and one of my earlier songs ‘Weatherman’ was inspired by the group Cinderella.
“The sound of the Coldwater Canyon Band has evolved since I started with the original lineup in 2006,” he adds, “but we love the fact that we’ve never been locked or handcuffed into a certain sound.
In this digital age when most independent artists timidly release singles or EPS, CCB makes the bold move in putting out a collection with a total of 13 songs—a number usually considered unlucky but which for Vaughn makes a statement that luck is on their side. Four of the songs are newly revamped versions of tunes that originally appeared on Rollin’: “Nobody Knows,” “Peace of Mind,” “What About Me?” and the title track.
While Vaughn sees the musical theme of Just Getting Started along the lines of “Here I am, partying with you guys in the trenches, in bars having a good time, bringing you this brand new spin on country music,” lyrically the songs are fascinating snapshots into his dynamic life journey. The mid-tempo ballad “Rollin’” was influenced by his parents. His dad, a veteran trucker who is now the driver of Coldwater Canyon Band’s tour bus, was gone for long stretches of time and his mom was left alone quite often. When the girl of Vaughn’s dreams left him because of his own extended time away, he asked his mom if she ever felt like leaving—a question which led him to write the song.
“Peace Of Mind” is an homage to our soldiers and all those who fight for our freedom, who deserve our love and support; unlike many post 9/11 anthems, however, it also refers to Vietnam, where his dad served many years ago. His parents were also the inspiration behind “Nobody Knows,” in which a performer spots someone dancing alone from the stage and wonders why they don’t want to dance with anybody. It’s largely metaphorical, but it has to do with those days when his mom had a man but the man was frequently absent—which would have meant if she went out on the town, she would dance alone.
When Vaughn was a kid, his Pawpaw in Kingsport, Tennessee told him, “Howie, you’re a dreamer. When you gamble, bet the ranch and let it ride, but make sure you bet on yourself.” From sneaking into honkytonks to sing at eight years old to captivating fans these days with his wild stage performances, he’s always approached his life and music full throttle. Once he came back to Cali as a teenager, he signed a publishing deal with Bruno Bear Records and rode saddle broncs on the amateur rodeo circuit.
Before forming and becoming the lead singer of Coldwater Canyon, he performed in numerous bands that became legendary, including Wild Country, Southern Tradition and Young Country. KBE President Thomas Goodin signed Coldwater Canyon Band after hearing them perform “Country Girls” at the Cowboy Palace. The band has been through various personnel changes since, but original member, drummer Milo Todesco, still performs some live dates with the revamped band.
“Nothing makes me happier than connecting with the crowd, having them feel what I feel through my songs,” Vaughn says. “I put as much passion and emotion into it as possible. I want to create music that soothes, connects and grabs people. To bond with someone on that level – there is no greater gift. People come to shows to get lost from the reality of what’s happening in their lives for a few hours, and I love the opportunity to pull them into my world, where they can worry about the passion and not the pain. It’s like entering another dimension and it’s all about having letting go and having fun.”