Thrift Store Cowboys
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Thrift Store Cowboys

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Americana Ambient




"Great American Desert Review"

Once in the desert of the Big Bend area I saw a rabbit run across an asphalt road. Very fast. Almost immediately, a coyote came chasing. I don't know who won that race, but most likely the race was most important to the rabbit.

I'm not exactly sure what that memory has to do with Thrift Store Cowboys, except that they call what they do "desert music," a blend of country, rock, and pop with enough world music hints to drive a country radio programmer crazy.

Deserts lull and entrance with their heat during the day and their cool at night. Deserts have their own often understated, wild beauty.

"The Great American Desert," Thrift Store Cowboys' second CD, soothes with a sound that's fairly mellow, but always has a hint of something wild in it.

It's not just the fiddle, which saors, but the combination of the sounds made by a standard array of instruments played with almost a world beat.

That world influence spreads throughout the CD but is most obvious on the instrumental (except for one insertion of the title phrase), "Man we ran them camels."

Other highlights include the moody "Weigh Me Down," the upbeat dark-eyed senora song "Days We Remember," the downer farm song "The Black Blizzards," and the rapid, disheveled love song "Pictures."

...The Great American Desert is a delight to listen to from one end to the other, and holds real promise for even better performances. There is too much energy here for this to be considered "trance-country," but there are enough elements of that almost-trendy "movement" to flavor the CD. If this music comes from the desert, then it must come from an oasis.

--Tom Geddie
Buddy Magazine - Feb. 2004 - Buddy Magazine

"Denver Show Preview"

In Lubbock, Texas, there's an expression: "Anywhere is walking distance if you have time." Given the never-ending flatness and unblocked sky that dominates the western stretch of the Lone Star State, it seems better to forgo walking altogether and just drive -- double-clutching like a bat out of hell. Then again, all of that eerie, dust-bowl desolation must have done something for Lubbock's golden boy, Buddy Holly -- not to mention a neo-traditionalist six-piece called Thrift Store Cowboys. Bucking Nashville's stodgy music establishment to embrace the wide-open spaces, the Cowboys blend quiet electric guitars, pedal steel, fiddles and occasional mariachi beats into a brand of mirage-inducing Americana that recalls Chris Isaak and Calexico. Touring in support of their second full-length, The Great American Desert (which Rex Hobart hailed as "spooky punky-tonk"), the Cowboys ruminate on the lonely side of the barbed wire: where the old cafe burned to the ground, where time stands still, where the city looks pretty from the prison tonight.

By John La Briola - Westword

"Show preview"

The Thriftsore Cowboys are a promising young band making inroads in Texas music, quickly gaining a reputation as a burgeoning national act. -

"National Public Radio (NPR)"

"A Band to Call Your Own" - All Songs Considered

"No Depression Review"

"The headliners this night, however, Thrift Store Cowboys, came off on those sticky speakers at least a little bit better. Hailing from Lubbock, Tex., these guys drew a small but loyal crew of Texas transplants out for a late Sunday night of roadhouse-like country rock. Shires used to play fiddle for them before striking out to Nashville on her own. The tour they're on now means a reunion of sorts, and I could tell both she and the band enjoyed being back on the road together for a spell. Of course, even though their music rocked quite a bit harder than Shires', the sound system still left a bit to be desired. Can't fault the band, though, their energy and musicianship was tight. - No Depression Magazine

"Napster Review"

It's a neat trick to pull off ambient-gothic-western music, and the Thrift Store Cowboys have been doing it in a unique and spectacular manner for about 10 years now. The Lubbock-based indie band has released a small number of excellent albums and has toured the country a number of times, all the while garnering more and more positive press. The band released their most recent album, Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping, in 2006. After three years, it is, indeed, about time for a new record, but the band suffered a setback earlier this year when someone set fire to the home of two of the band members. So, until TSC can pull it together and finish a new record, check out the genius of Lay Low... It's a haunting and lonesome blend of baritone guitars, sweeping fiddle, understated vocals, and tasty atmospherics. - Napster Blog

"Cause = Time Review"

"Upon first listen, your eyes are taken to a place of desolation, desert, and open spaces. Little Texas towns where the Friday night hangout is a Sonic and the VFW is the local watering hole. Thrift Store Cowboys earnest melodies from Amanda Shires and Daniel Fluitt create the same energy that Caitlin Cary and Ryan Adams were able to create when they were changing the rules in a scene that many have long forgotten. The Americana scene isn’t what is once was, but we have some new direction now. The perfect culmination of violin, glockenspiel, accordion, banjo, hammond, pedal steel guitar, Weissenborn, lap steel, saw, and Wurlitzer create the perfect dust storm of twang. The Red Raider lovin’ Thrift Store Cowboys are galloping on some new dusty trails that are worth check out tonight at the Hi-Dive." - Cause = Time Blog

"LA Weekly"

Cowboys and Engines


Where have the Thrift Store Cowboys been all my life? In Lubbock, Texas, and environs, playing their beautiful rootsy, even surf-y sound. They have a killer instrumental called “Man We Ran Them Camels,” and are also the first of three groups (and only one is classical) that feature violin in this week’s column. Genghis Cohen, 740 N. Fairfax Ave., West Hollywood; Fri., July 29, 9:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 653-0640.
- LA Weekly

"ABC Pick"

Thrift Store Cowboys

Conventional wisdom tells us that if, for instance, your dad were an electrician, you might make a good electrician. If he were an actor, you might feel destined for the stage. Likewise, if you were from a particular corner of the country - West Texas, in this case - that spawned some of country music's most beloved icons, you might know a thing or two about the Art of the Twang. Lubbock band Thrift Store Cowboys is one such group, the members having grown up in the same town that reared Buddy Holly, Joe Ely and Delbert McClinton (okay, Delbert's more of a bluesman, but that's another topic entirely).

This young quintet is of the newest generation of musicians to blend West Texas country with blues and bluegrass, two of America's other beloved musical traditions, all while paying homage to their predecessors. All the members shine on the Thrift Store Cowboy's sophomore release The Great American Desert, an independently-released album that recalls the sounds of genre-bending artists they've opened for on past tours (the Old '97s, DeVotchKa, Billy Joe Shaver and others), as well as their Lubbock forefathers.

Colt Miller (banjoist, accordionist and lead guitarist) is the group's secret weapon, laying down some greasy, bottom-ended sounds that spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone might envy. Amanda Shires (fiddler, backup vocalist, Thrift Store Cowgirl) also adds to this eclectic mix of styles, with a schooled yet simplistic take on bluegrass fiddling. The Cowboys' music falls a little short of being virtuosic, but then, that only highlights the band's attentiveness to the songs themselves, tightly woven little pieces of a distinctly American quilt that they are.

Both local shows feature recent Athens transplant Nic Goodson and his Sleepy Horses project, currently on a tour of the Southeast with the Cowboys.

Mark Sanders
- Athens Flagpole


Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping - 10th Anniversary Vinyl - July 2016

Light Fighter - October 2010

Thrift Store Cowboys/One Wolf 7" Split vinyl - June 2009

Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping (LP) - July 2006

The Great American Desert (LP) - Nov. 2003

Nowhere With You (LP) - July 2001



Thrift Store Cowboys fourth studio album Light-Fighter (October 12, 2010) could be called their post-arson period, as Daniel Fluitt and band wrote the record after a stranger torched their gear and merchandise-filled trailer parked next to Fluitt’s bedroom, nearly taking his life. Produced by Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Neko Case, Iron and Wine) Light-Fighter’s indie rock shapeshifts through ambient and Gothic western music for songs that touch on death, loss, fear, redemption, the Spanish Civil War and West Texas ghost stories. All buoyed by soaring violin, draped against bottom-ended guitar and pedal steel sounds that spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone might envy.

The Lubbock based sextet, which includes Fluitt, Colt Miller, Clint Miller, Cory Ames, Kris Killingsworth, and Amanda Shires on fiddle and vocals, have been touring together for a decade after meeting at the musical South Plains College. They are neither of the typical Texas-based types of bands – a country-rock mélange or strictly indie rock. As Buddy Magazine points out, “Thrift Store Cowboys' feel is more, for a lack of better description, gypsy desert music - the free sound of spacey, heat-induced delirium…a sure, confident sound backed by thoughtful vision.” Schumacher produced their 2007 release, Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping, of which Austin Sound said, “the album is to country music what Jim Jarmusch’s film Deadman was to the western.”

“Probably one of the most uplifting songs I’ve ever written in my life,” says Fluitt of the billowing lead track “One Gentle Inch to Nine Violent Miles,” about “that moment that you stop staring at the ground in strife and disbelief.” It’s followed by “Bright Fire,” a jangley roots rocker. But the western spirit starts creeping in with the felon-charged “7s and 9s” and then significantly on the haunting “Scary Weeds,” penned and sung by Amanda Shires, who started as a sidewoman at the age of 16 with the legendary Texas Playboys and released her own solo album West Cross Timbers last year. She also contributes the begging and beautiful “Lean Into the Sway.”

As for ghost stories, Fluitt wrote the epic “Nothing” about a division of Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1880s, in pursuit of attacking Comanches, who knowingly led them in disorienting circles around a buffalo-grassed and treeless flatland to die of thirst. Fluitt interestingly “takes this story as a call and response, between a dead soldier and his wife, showing the tribulations each had, him on the plains, and her at their house. Both were left with nothing.”

Fluitt also explores the Spanish Civil War via a character from The Cypresses Believe in God, by Jose Maria Gironella for the song “You Can’t See The Light.” “In the book, ‘Caesar’ who was studying to be a priest, was imprisoned by the Anarchists, and in strange twists, he was executed instead of rescued. This was the first song of a concept album I hope to write about the trilogy of books.”

Thrift Store Cowboys have been slogging out consistent touring with growing audiences for 10 years, but historically most young bands implode at year three, crammed in a smelly van together. This band makes it because they “keep growing and changing musically,” says Fluitt. True too, they initially and wrongly got lumped in with the Texas country-rockish bands that essentially write the same songs over and over again, but ducked that subset pretty quickly. They met Schumacher while playing with DeVotchKa, says Fluitt, and did both Light-Fighter and Lay Low While Crawling and Creeping at the heralded Wave Lab Studio in Tucson.

For the new record, “we tried to capture the dynamics of our live shows.” As well the band up until now, has been doing everything 100% themselves -- and for this record they are working with TopSpin, as well as indie distribution and marketing. “It’s like getting to the top of a mountain and finding a 300-foot wall, you gotta throw a rope over to help you get to the other side,” says Fluitt. From September through November of 2010, Thrift Store Cowboys toured the United States in support of Light-Fighter and expect to go back on the road in early spring.

Band Members