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Art & About - Better Tomorrow - Cowboys with Attitude 7/28/2010
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The final musical act at the Greenhorn Valley Arts and Music Festival was a band called Better Tomorrow, so called according to Justin Oldham, the band’s lead guitarist, because they weren’t all that good when they first started. This wry sense of humor epitomizes what this band is all about. Country, rock with a Texan twang, Southern boogie-all percolated through a Colorado sensibility and laced with a defiant, often very funny, cowboy attitude. Cow Punk sums it up for me. This style was born in the late 80s and 90s when a younger generation came of age, picked up guitars, referenced the music that had come before them, rammed their Stetsons down over their ears and went on to make a sound of their own. It was fast, very electric, fun to dance to and jam-packed with a new, up-yours attitude. It was a music steeped in Southern tradition and the sweat of a thousand Texan bars and clubs and Better Tomorrow, which only formed in April of this year, come out of this music and a new generation of pickers. The band is getting lots of gigs already; they still play covers but manage to make each song sound like their own and that’s the hallmark of a good band.

“Next step is to learn how to finish a song”, says Cody Scheid, son of Terry Scheid who runs the bar at Viktorio’s and is a familiar and popular face at the restaurant.

“We have started to write our own material, have the words and the music but somehow can’t quite pin it all together yet. Figuring out words that rhyme, tying loose ends together, getting a good ending isn’t easy. Or maybe we’re still trying to refine our sound. We’re finicky, is what”.

The band comprises Cody Scheid on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Justin Oldham on lead guitar, Kyle Spencer on drums, Jason Oldham, Justin’s cousin, on harmonica, Quinn Donell on rhythm guitar and Aaron Cisneros on bass. It’s a classic Southern rock line-up, reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allmans and every band that played the Southern circuit; at the recent Festival in the park, they were the only band that managed to flip the breakers and blow out the sound system- three times!

“We’re hard to label” said Justin. “You can call us Red Dirt or Texas Country and it all comes out of Texas and Oklahoma. But we come out of Colorado and the music takes on its own energy. We’re still a bit rough but we’re learning to play a song our way and something new is coming out of it. Kyle, Cody and I started the band and have been practicing for over a year. Just jamming every week and then we did our first show in April. Maybe we’ve done twelve shows since then and I have to say, we’re still pretty wet behind the ears!”

Justin is the public face of the band- he plays lead guitar, gets the gigs, promotes the band through a page on Facebook and is probably the only real cowboy in the group. He’s married to Kim and they have land out beyond Crow Cutoff on Highway 78, where he works for his father in a roofing business and keeps cows and horses.

He says “I’ve had a lot of help from a buddy of mine, K.C. Messick, who has been around the business a lot and who has taught me that it isn’t always about the music- that business is part of it too, something you have to be prepared to deal with. Sometimes you have to crack the whip a bit and do things you don’t wanna do. Music isn’t always fun and games- sometimes you have to be really be prepared to work it hard. I’ve been playing guitar by myself forever. I’d gone as far as I could alone. I’m not great by any means but I work at it and I’m doing things now that I couldn’t have done six months ago. Being in a band forces you to get better.”

The band members still keep day jobs together; Cody juggles two-as a transportation clerk at the Sheriff’s Dept. in Pueblo and also as a stock keeper at Home Depot while Kyle will take up a position teaching at Craver Middle School next term. He just graduated from college and is looking forward to his new job. They grew up around Colorado City and feel very at home here.

The band’s focus is on playing right now and they’ll work at recording some songs this winter. That’s the next level for the band to go to.

“We’re all pretty green about what we’re doing”, says Cody, “but I know that we’ll get it together and it will happen for us. The more song writing you do, like anything else, the easier I think it gets. We sometimes write together, sometimes we come up with our own songs. We have one good one almost finished but somehow can’t quite get the feel of it right yet. We’re trying to make it a bit raunchier and rougher- and a little more fun.”

Says Justin, “There’s enough sad songs in the world already, enough love songs too. I wanna write fun songs. Songs that make you laugh. That’s what I’m about. I wanna play happy songs. I listen to all kinds of music, depends on my mood. But the only kind of music I don’t listen to is anything violent or hateful. I’m not big on rap or heavy metal music. I like music with a meaningful message, old school jazz, classical. And you get out of music what you want to get out of it. Like life.”

Cody joined in “Justin and I learned music at school in concert and jazz bands and that’s where we learned anything we know. I played trumpet and he played percussion and we learned that music is about the relationship between the instruments and that’s when it sends a message to people. It doesn’t matter if the music has words or not. I like to listen to classical music which makes me think a bit.”

Kyle added “Classical composers like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky put a lot of passion into their music and that’s what we get out of it. It may not be what the composer intended but emotion communicates to the listener. It’s like literature, full of meanings, but the reader may pull something else out of it that the writer wasn’t even aware of.”

The members of Better Tomorrow have had their first taste of success in performance and are addicted to that side of the music. Performance in front of a crowd can be intoxicating and can blind you to what you actually doing up there if you’re not careful.

It seems to me that the members of Better Tomorrow have still got their heads screwed on straight; they love what they’re doing, are amazed that they’ve come as far as they have so quickly and will only get bigger and better. The band has gigs at the Senate Club in Pueblo lined up and will be appearing at the Benefit for John MacMillan on Friday 30th July in Colorado City. Do try and catch them before they mount up and ride out of sight with a “Hi Ho Silver Surfer, Away!” and a cloud of electric dust.

Check out their Facebook page “Better Tomorrow”

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