When was the last time you said, “Yea, the Babylonian Cowboys rock!”?
Probably never, huh? But you probably have said that Dwight Yoakam rocks. But without his backing band, the Babylonian Cowboys, Dwight Yoakam wouldn’t rock quite so hard.
That’s true for most artists, country or not. Often backing bands don’t get the recognition they deserve, or recognition at all. Most backing bands have names, whether we realize it or not. Many are self-aware like Phil Pritchett’s Full Band. Some are tongue-in-cheek, like Jamey Johnson’s Kent Hardly Playboys. Here are the best backing band names in country music.
10. His Large Band – Lyle Lovett
This one you have to think about for a second. Lyle Lovett and his Large Band have been known to play all sorts of music, but one thing they don’t play is big band music, or jazz. In typical Lovett wit, the name of the band is half tongue-in-cheek, half public service announcement to those who insist on calling it his big band. Case in point, the album titled Lyle Lovett and his Large Band It’s Not Big It’s Large.
9. The Dancehall Doctors – Tim McGraw
Unlike most backing bands, the Dancehall Doctors got their moment in the sun with Tim McGraw’s 2002 studio release. The singer went against country recording tradition and invited his touring band to record with him, which ultimately resulted in one of the McGraw’s strongest albums to date. The name implies the band is manipulating the listener, which is really what music accomplishes. Bravo on the band name, boys.
8. The Wrong Reasons – Joe Fletcher
Up-and-comer Joe Fletcher’s music is so full of despair, you have to wonder if there ever was a right reason. They make you wonder if maybe all the right reasons don’t turn out to be wrong reasons in the long run. Either way, this is a truly great band name.
7. Orphans of the Brazos – Aaron Watson
Aaron Watson once said “You’re only as good as the boys behind you.” Those are smart words for any artist to remember. Like any good country name should, “Orphans of the Brazos” conjures up images of lonely cowpokes sitting around a campfire sharing a can of beans. Oh, the Orphans also don’t play encores because if people are paying to see a show, they shouldn’t have to beg for more. Word.
6. The Famous Motel Cowboys – Pinto Bennett
If you’ve never heard of Pinto Bennett and the Famous Motel Cowboys, you are forgiven. But you should rectify that situation as soon as possible. In a tragic and poetic twist, the Famous Motel Cowboys never really lived up to their name, though they wrote some great music. Or maybe they were just being ironic the whole time.
5. The Beat Up Ford Band – Jack Ingram
When you’ve got a song named after your band (or was it the other way around?), you know you’re doing something right. In the track “Beat Up Ford”, Jack Ingram and the band sing , “Driving like he’s got a destination, like he’s got somewhere to go in that beat up Ford.” And with those two heat-breaking lines, Jack and the Beat Up Ford band capture the essence of country music.
4. The Hurtin’ Albertans – Corb Lund
Not often does a band name sound awesome, invoke country heartbreak and give a shout out to their home state all at the same time. And rhyme. Then again, the Hurtin’ Albertans aren’t just any band. They’re Corb Lund’s band and they’re sure to please
3. The Heartless Bastards – James McMurtry
Yes, there is a garage rock band that goes by the same name, by McMurtry’s group came first. The Heartless Bastards is comprised of a grand total of two, sometimes three, members. Their choice of name seems appropriate as they growl their way through another song about the miserable state of just about everything.
2. The Bad Seeds – Nick Cave
This Australian alt-rock band has toed the edge of country for over two decades. We’re going to go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt because their band name is just so bada**. And it rolls off the tongue. Go ahead and say it: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Now say it with a Nick Cave-like snarl, like you just released an album called Murder Ballads and want everyone to know that about 60 people die during it’s playtime, in one way or another. Yea, they’re bad seeds.
1. The Texas Playboys – Bob Wills
This is the band that pretty much set the standard for awesome band names. A play on words that sets themselves up as heart-throbs, the Playboys lived up to their name. Classic and timeless, the rest of us have our work cut out to live up to their name and legacy.
Honorable mentions go to Pam Tillis’ Mystic Biscuits, Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, Ryan Bingham’s Dead Horses, Rodney Parker’s 50 Peso Reward, and, most of all, Buck Owens’ Buckaroos.