Country Rockers Bring Horseshoe Back To Life

Johnson’s Creek
And One Ugly Cowboy
Horseshoe Tavern Toronto
Friday, September 17th, 2021

By Keith Sharp

Live music is slowly but surely returning to Toronto nightlife with a doubleheader of the GTA’s top Country Rock bands; Johnson’s Creek Band and One Ugly Cowboy appearing together at the Horseshoe Tavern before a modest but enthusiastic audience.

Johnson’s Creek Band’s firebrand assault of Country Rock combined their own polished original tracks off their debut EP ‘Light Up The Honky Tonk’ with a skilled selection of covers by the likes of Kenny Chesney “Bar At The End Of The World”, Luke Bryan “What Makes You Country”/”Country Girl”,  Dwight Yoakum “Fast As You”, Eric Church “Drink In My Hand”, Brothers Osbourne “Shoot Me Straight” plus a Johnny Cash medley on “Folsom Prison Blues”. They even pay homage to Canadian talent by covering Tim Hicks’ “No Truck Song” and Aaron Goodvin’s “Lonely Drum”.

Johnson's Creek Band - Photo by Andrew Clowater
Johnson’s Creek Band – Photo by Andrew Clowater

Lead guitarist Michael Lantegne, vocalist/guitarist Glenn Code, bassist Mike Crombez, and drummer Jake Adams are all polished performers who really shine when delivering their own material. “I Like It Dirty” (with an homage to The Tragically Hip’s “Blow At High Dough”) is always a set highlight and other songs like “Ocean Fantasy”, “The Water”, “Light Up The Honky Tonk” and “Boots” exhibit their songwriting prowess with new track “Burn It Up” showing promise of being a hit single from their forthcoming new release.

And they know how to get their audience involved with a set-closing whammy of Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” and Garth Brooks’ classic singalong “Friends In Low Places”.

One Ugly Cowboy - Photo by Andrew Clowater
One Ugly Cowboy – Photo by Andrew Clowater

It’s hard to categorize One Ugly Cowboy. Their tongue-in-cheek moniker suggests them to be a Country Rock band and tracks off their first two albums ‘Get Yer Ugly On” and last year’s `Ride With The Wind’ certainly suggest a strong Country Rock influence with “Recipe For Love”, “Don’t Mess Around With A Southern Girl” and title track “Ride With The Wind prime examples of their originality.

But in lead vocalist Jane Sowerby, you have a bonafide rock star whose on-stage demeanour is more akin to David Lee Roth while her equal rock star guitarist Rick Zwic, bassist Rick Otterbrite, lap steel guitarist Rick Kennedy, and drummer Mike Mann are all at home pounding out classic rockers like Ram Jam’s Black Betty and Three Dog Night’s “Mamma Told Me Not To Come”.

One Ugly Cowboy - Photo by Andrew Clowater
One Ugly Cowboy – Photo by Andrew Clowater

Yet it’s Sowerby’s stand-out vocal prowess that makes this band so special. Whether she is covering Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper’s Academy Award-winning “Shallow” or bringing the audience to their feet with a captivating cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah”, it’s easy to see why Sowerby used to front her own Janis Joplin Tribute Act. And then they have the chutzpah to deliver a countrified version of the Weather Girl’s disco classic “It’s Raining Men”

Impossible to categorize, an apt description of the band One Ugly Cowboy is pure Country Fun!

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