WAUKESHA - The sounds
of Willie and Waylon’s idols will boogie down the downtown streets of
Waukesha for the final night of Waukesha’s Freeman Friday Night Live of
the summer music series.
The country western
sounds of the Western Starlanders will take the stage at Magellan’s.
Starlanders combine classic country, western swing, hillbilly boogie,
blues and jazz into their mix of original music.
“It’s from an era
when people took the time to craft songs, not only lyrically, but
musically,” lead vocalist and bassist J.P. Cyr said. “(They) took
their time, arranged tunes, brought in elements of swing of blues and
hillbilly music and western and folk. And some of the Celtic and British
Isles fiddle music was brought in. It encompasses every mood possible for
me. It’s a one-stop shop.”
Cyr came from a
musical family and took up the bass simply to fill the void in a family
full of guitar players. He ended up loving it.
grew up listening to a lot of the music he plays, and his grandfather even
had a band in the 1930s. However, as a child, Cyr was not interested in
country music. When he finally rediscovered it later in life after
frustration with the current generation of music, he fell in love with it.
Guitarist Bobby Rivera
began in the punk rock genre before venturing his way into the roots music
and rockabilly. Rivera said western swing and country are especially fun
for a guitar player because there are so many different aspects to it.
This version of the
Western Starlanders started a little over two years ago and has played a
variety of venues from classic car shows to the Dubuque, Iowa, County Fair
to Las Vegas. In addition to Cyr and Rivera, the band includes Bill
McRoberts on steel guitar, Blaine McQuinn on fiddle and vocals and Brian
Kreutziger on drums and percussion.
perform and record a large amount of original music. Cyr and McQuinn were
also nominated for 2013 Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards in their
respective categories. McQuinn won a 2013 WAMI Award for Best String
Starlanders also play some original songs but try to avoid performing it
exactly like the original and instead try to put their own spin on the
“We like to add our
own treatment to it without losing the integrity of the song,” Cyr said.
Cyr and Rivera said
the band likes to write in a style that listeners would have heard in the
1940s or the early 1950s but with all of their own experience and
materials, as well. As far as they’re concerned, if a listener wants to
hear a verbatim replica of the original, then listen to the record.
“At least that’s
how we feel about it,” Rivera said.
“We try to keep it
so that it’s our interpretation of it, but it sounds like one of those
bands from that time covering that song,” Cyr said.
Some of the
Starlanders’ musical influences include Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, Hank
Williams, Hank Garland and Merle Travis. One of the covers they are most
proud of is “Palm Springs Jump” by Slim Gaillard, a jazz artist.
“We wanted to take a
jazz tune that had not been done by a Western swing band,” Cyr said.
“People love it.”
“We took an old jazz
tune and made it a western swing song in our style,” Rivera said. “A
lot of the bands back then, they did the exact same thing.”
Cyr and Rivera said
another fun thing is that they never perform a song exactly the same each
time. The musicians have the freedom to add in solos or add their own
unique musical touch when needed or desired.
One of the band’s
greatest rewards is having listeners approach them to say that they
don’t usually like country, but they liked the Western Starlanders.
“It’s fun to bring
this kind of music to people who don’t know it,” Cyr said.
Willie and Waylon’s idols,” Rivera said. “This is country music.
It’s so old and forgotten.”
Cyr said it is so old
that their music goes as far back as Jimmie Rogers, the yodeler from the
And the Starlanders
never disappoint at a performance with their western garb.
“I think part of it
is just seeing it live,” Rivera said. “It’s a lot different than
watching a YouTube video or playing a record. To see it done properly
makes an impact. It’s a whole package. Part of that is keeping the
integrity of the music.”
www.westernstarlanders.com for more information.