Music Fest Spotlight: Cowboy Union Jam
By Joe Bachman
Don’t call them a band — call them a jam.
The Cowboy Union Jam has been live on the local music scene since 2009 bringing something that nobody else has brought to the scene on a consistent basis — unfiltered, impromptu, toe-tapping jam music.
“We’re really not a band that goes out and choreographs their songs, we just play off the cuff.” said 71-year-old member Steve Gardner.
The formula, however, worked so well that the band’s fan base became too big for the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center where they first played their gigs. The crowds became so large the the group had to move their show into the McMillan Library in 2012.
The idea of the Cowboy Union Jam came from his brother, Bob Gardner. The group draws influences from an array of genres, and plays traditional country, bluegrass, old-school and gospel. The group in itself is ever expanding, and with no formula, has an endless number of members.
“We’re running out of room on the stage right now,” said Gardner. “Last month, we had fifteen players, and that was too many — so we’re trying to get back to the basic ten players.”
The jam continually draws crowds to the McMillan Library Fine Arts Center, as their most recent show drew around 150 people — not bad for a 1:00 p.m. Wednesday show. The jam is anticipating even more for Music Fest, as word is getting around for this unique set of players and sound.
“You don’t get that much anymore,” said Gardner, regarding their musical style. “We’re pretty much just geared in on the old country songs and traditional music.”
Cowboy Union Jam will be the first to take the stage at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at Robinson Park.