Cowboy Troy 'Back in the Saddle' with new album

July 10, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Former "Nashville Star" host Cowboy Troy will use a tour stop in Hagerstown to promote his latest "hick-hop" album, "Black in the Saddle."

He will be at Cancun Cantina West on Saturday, where he plans to leak some unreleased, unrecorded material at the hourlong show, leaving it to Hagerstown fans to help decide whether the new stuff deserves a place on his next album.

Troy is signed to Raybaw Records, which is affiliated with Warner Brothers Records. He's been making music -- a rock, rap and country hybrid he calls "hick-hop" -- since 1989. His fame grew when he joined forces with MuzikMafia, a collaborative of music artists founded by John Rich and Kenny Alphin, the country twosome better known as Big & Rich. This led to higher profile gigs for Troy -- like an appearance with Big & Rich at the Country Music Awards.

Recently, Troy hosted season four and season five of "Nashville Star," the country music version of "American Idol."


The sixth season of "Nashville Star" debuted June 9 to a new network -- it moved from USA to NBC -- and new host, Billy Ray Cyrus. Troy says even though his contract for the show wasn't renewed for this season, he still watches the show every week.

But for now, Troy's moving on with his career, writing new songs for album No. 3.

"I told the record label, that for album three, I wanted to push the boundaries a little more," Troy said in a phone interview from his Nashville-area home. But the new material won't be that different.

"It's still going to be a hick-hop album," Troy said.

About Cowboy Troy

City: Nashville, Tenn.

Genre: "Hick-hop," rock "yawlternative"

Influences: Rock, rap and country music

Upcoming shows: Scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, Cancun Cantina West, Hagerstown. Tickets $10.


Q&A with Cowboy Troy

Q: How would you say hosting "Nashville Star" has helped your career?
Being able to go into two to three million homes a week, that helps with name and face recognition. For the most part, people don't recognize my music on the radio because it's in left field somewhere.

Q: What are your plans now that you're no longer doing "Nashville Star"?
Continue to write new music, continue to make sure the fans get a good serving of hick-hop music, and when I'm not doing that, I'm at home with the kids, helping my wife.

Q: So, some people hear "hick-hop," they think gimmick. Why is that not the case here?
I think if you hear the live show, you'll see it's authentic. I don't change because trends change. I do what I do because it's me.

Q: Why not stick to one genre at a time, do straight country? Ray Charles did it.
Ray Charles was a great musician. He achieved so much success that he was able to transcend anything, really. I don't really know how to stick to one genre because I used to listen to rock, rap, country at the same time. It's kind of weird being put in the same breath as Ray Charles.

Q: I kind of used him as a hypothetical. But I am wondering, from an artistic standpoint, which do you think is easier: crossing over or converging genres?
I think it's probably easier to cross over. It's not been a cakewalk molding genres together. I might take a guitar from some classic rock, a fiddle sound from '80s country, with some different kind of rap -- that takes work. If you're not prepared for it, it's kind of like eating sushi, it's hard to wrap your mind around it. At first blush, people are curious, but suspicious.

Q: If you could collaborate with one rap artist, one rock artist and one country artist, who would you pick?
Let's start with the rap artists, I would probably say someone like Chuck D, Ice Cube, maybe Snoop, Everlast. Country artists ... Dwight Yoakam is real high on my list, John Anderson, somebody like Gretchen Wilson, Emmylou Harris. The list is kind of long. ... Now rock, Sebastian Bach. I'm a huge Skid Row fan. Axel Rose, Chris Cornel and Scott Weiland.

Q: All right, who's better, Tupac or Biggie?
Actually, that's hard to determine. They were almost like newscasters, in a sense, because they told you what was going on in their neighborhoods right at that moment. To me, it's a toss-up.

Q: OK, OK, serious question. What would you say has been the defining moment of your career so far?
There's been a couple. The first one I can think of, June 11, 2004, Virginia Beach. Big & Rich were opening for Tim McGraw. I was their surprise guest. That was the first time I had been in front of that many people. The second one was the (Country Music Awards). I think it was 2004, maybe it was 2005. Big & Rich performed and they brought me on stage with them. I believe that was the first time a rapper ever performed at the CMAs. Oh, I can't for get the first time I performed at the Grand Ole Opry.

Q: So, what do you want people to know about you when they read this story?
I'm pretty much an odd duck. I've pretty much been the poster boy for being an odd duck. So if you're feeling the same way, come hang with us.

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