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Davis, California

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

A sit down with Cowboys After Dark

The local band shares how they formed and their experiences as musicians


By FAITH DEMEULENAERE — features@theaggie.org 


Many students and Davis residents are familiar with the local band Cowboys After Dark. Whether it’s by attending their shows or seeing their posters downtown, Cowboys After Dark has accrued quite a reputation in Davis.

For those who don’t know, there are seven members in the band. As a group that’s on the larger side, they call themselves similar to Earth, Wind & Fire and Santana: “Bands that move around and add fun with audience participation,” band member Jacob Johnson said.

Cowboys After Dark portrays this high-energy performance through their stage presence and joyful music. As many fans know, the group often plays covers of older bands such as Pink Floyd and ABBA.

As for the members of Cowboys After Dark: Mason Johnstone is on the drums, Dewey Patterson on the bass, Eric Aguilar on the guitar, Henry Humphrey on the keys, Rosie Mendoza on the trumpet, Jacob Johnson on the saxophone and Bernadette Grace on vocals.

Many of the members are currently students at UC Davis. Mendoza is a third-year English major, Johnstone and Grace are third-year biology majors and Johnson is a fourth-year PhD candidate in animal behavior. 

The band was formed through Aguilar putting up posters downtown looking for various musicians to join. 

“I printed out some sketchy-looking posters, and I found most of my bandmates that way,” Aguilar said. “But now we are as strong as we’ve been.”

“It was my first day of college, and I saw said sketchy-looking flyer that said ‘lead singer wanted,’” Grace said.

The band has fluctuated in members, but the trusty flyers built Cowboys After Dark into the band it is today. Being a completely self-made group, each member agreed that they had the most trouble with technical complications. 

 They set up and take down all their own sets and agree that carrying the large speakers they connect their instruments to is the worst part of this since only a couple of people in the band can even lift them at all. 

Although each member described the band dynamic differently, they all agreed on how close the group is. 

“Siblings, we are all just a family,” Mendoza said. “These are [like] my brothers.”

“Alive,” Humphrey said. “It feels like a living thing. There are so many moments where we feature an individual and the way we interact with the audience is more unique than many other things I’ve seen.”

“Eclectic,” Aguilar said. “We all come from really different musical backgrounds, so it is definitely a big combination in the best way possible.”

“Chaotic,” Johnstone said. “I don’t think we’ve had a single show that hasn’t had really chaotic moments. That’s not even a bad thing. There is some really good chaos, and sometimes not-so-good chaos. When there’s so much happening at once with the lights and everyone screaming, it’s great chaos.”

The “Cowboys” express gratitude to fans who come to most or all of their shows, especially to those who are enthusiastic about their music. 

“When the energy is reciprocated by the audience, it’s what we love. I really love it,” Johnson said. 

The group encourages everyone to support local bands and find their next favorite song at a Cowboys After Dark show. Those interested can keep an eye out for more information about upcoming shows this quarter on their Instagram account, @cowboysafterdark


Written by: Faith DeMeulenaere — features@theaggie.org



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