The Cactus Brothers Biography

Highly arresting and energetic Nashville band, the Cactus Brothers formed in the late 80s as a spin-off from rock band Walk The West, who released one album on Capitol Records in 1986. Former members Paul Kirby (26 July 1972, Alburqueque, New Mexico, USA; lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Will Golemon (b. 16 November 1963, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA; guitar, banjo, backing vocals), John Golemon (b. 18 July 1972, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA; bass) and Richard Ice (drums) were joined by Tramp (b. Michael Halpin Lawing, 16 March 1965, Marion, North Carolina, USA; fiddle, mandolin, guitars, backing vocals) shortly afterwards, while Dave Kennedy took over on drums.

By 1991 Walk The West were no longer a going concern, and as the Cactus Brothers this nucleus earned its first recording contract with Liberty Records in the summer of 1992. Prior to the signing, the group was featured in Pure Country, a George Strait film shot in Texas, which featured the group composition ‘Crazy Heart’, while Tramp and Kirby contributed on two other songs. The Cactus Brothers was released in May 1993, with Sam Poland (pedal and lap steel guitar, dobro) and David Schnaufer (electric and acoustic dulcimers, harp) added to the line-up. It was an excellent introduction to their rough-edged country sound, that showed the influence of bluegrass and rock. Those alerted to the group’s songwriting prowess would not be surprised to learn that both Kirby and the Golemon brothers descend from noted country songwriters (Dave Kirby having penned material such as ‘Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone?’). In promoting the disc the group travelled over 60, 000 miles in the USA, while 1994 brought appearances in Eire, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and at the UK’s Cambridge Folk Festival.

The group has also achieved recognition for their videos, which, despite being recorded on low budgets, have twice (‘Fisher’s Hornpipe’, 1992, and ‘Sixteen Tons’, 1994) come third in the prestigious and highly competitive Worldfest poll. However, the group suffered further personnel shuffles in January 1994 when Schnaufer left to resume his solo career. A month later Poland departed to return to the world of commerce, and was replaced by Jim Fungaroli (b. 28 February 1958, Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania, USA) after a short tenure by Argyle Bell. Kennedy was then replaced on drums by Johnny M. Tulucci (b. 25 February 1959, Miami, Florida, USA). 24 Hrs, 7 Days A Week is less high-spirited than its predecessor, and seems like an attempt to get into the country mainstream. The Cactus Brothers spend a lot of time on the road, even doing some shows in Estonia.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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