SACRED COWBOYS was birthed from a love of Country, Bluegrass, Gospel and Blues. The seed was planted when a group of friends sat around playing songs at parties and BBQs. It began in 2003 and grew from backyards, to barrooms, to theaters, to Southern California’s Stagecoach Festival in 2009. With the momentum of their rousing festival performance behind them… the band took a long hiatus. The combination of individual careers and schedules proved too daunting to overcome at the time, so the Cowboys were put out to pasture.

Their friendships never ended though. In 2018 that same core group got together, invited some new friends along, and realized there was still a lot of music left in them. Sacred Cowboys ride again.

W. Earl Brown - vocals, guitar

Best known as an actor in film and television, Earl has been a life-long music fan. His earliest memory of the power of music was hearing Hank Williams on his grandmother’s record player. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, a recording so haunting that it could make a toddler mournful decades after its creation, left an indelible impression. When Earl was four, his family went to the county fair to see The Porter Wagoner Show with Dolly Parton. It was Earl’s first live show. It was also the first time he encountered folks he’d watched on television in person – it was an epiphany to realize they were normal, living, breathing, human beings. Going to the 1967 Calloway County Fair was the first step that would eventually lead to a career in show business. As a youngster tagging along with his mother, Earl sat in the audience for just about every major country music star of the period: Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Bill Monroe, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and Tammy Wynette were just a few of the many shows he saw. Then puberty hit. Along with that rush of testosterone came a love for music that packed a wallop. If it was loud and angry, Earl loved it. Kiss, AC DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, -- those bands, and many more, had their logos festooned in hand-drawn ink on Earl’s high school notebooks. The music that defined him had no place for mandolins and steel guitars… or so he thought. It wasn’t until Earl moved away from his Kentucky home to pursue his show biz dreams that the two seemingly disparate musical forms came together. He was teaching himself to play guitar when he heard Chicago’s WXRT (a rock station) play Nashville artist, Steve Earle. “Copperhead Road” combined elements of hard rock and hard country and was written with a literate lyrical bent. The music eased his home sickness and exorcised his fear. Earl grew to love Twang. As an actor, Earl is best known for his roles as “Dan Dority” on HBO’s Deadwood, “Hugo Root” in AMC’s Preacher, “Warren” Cameron Diaz’s brother in There’s Something About Mary, and “Kenny” the unfortunate sidekick of Courtney Cox in the original Scream.  

You can follow Earl on Twitter and Instagram: @wearlbrown

 For a list of Earl’s theatrical credits:  Click here

Peter Spirer - lead guitar, mandolin

Peter was a student in the University of Miami’s film program who made a living as a musician playing clubs, when the nascent MTV sponsored the contest “Basement Tapes.” Any un-signed band in America could submit a music video and the winner was to receive a lucrative management and recording deal.  This sparked an idea.   These were the days before directing music videos was an accepted entry into the Hollywood filmmaking world. Peter had to plead and argue his case with the UM faculty in order to be allowed to make a “music film” as his thesis project. They finally acquiesced, and between the weekends when his band, Z Toyz, was playing clubs all over the South, Peter shot his film. On a whim he submitted it to MTV, and they went all the way to the finals where they were first runner up.    Fresh on the heels of that success, Z Toyz made the move to New York in order to take that next major step towards stardom. Then things went sour. While the rest of the band struggled to make ends meet, Peter was hired to shoot promos and segments for MTV’s House of Style. As time progressed he was hired to shoot videos for other acts. Eventually Z Toyz fell asunder, and Peter found himself as a full-time professional filmmaker.   His film career spans a wide range of subjects including the Academy Award nominated short documentary Blood Ties: The Life and Work of Sally Mann, Emmy nominated PSA for the NBA “You Can Be Anything,” Rhyme & Reason, and in the summer of 2001, Peter directed Dunsmore his first foray into the narrative feature arena. He hired W. Earl Brown to star in the film. While shooting in Florida the two of them spent quite a bit of time playing guitars and talking about music. Being the same age, from similar backgrounds, they shared a love for many of the same bands and songwriters.   However, all that country stuff Earl kept playing wasn’t exactly to Peter’s tastes. Then he attended a “Down from the Mountain” show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. He had never listened to bluegrass music, let alone seen it performed. He was mesmerized by the fleet musicianship on display. These were pickers with the dexterity of the finest rock players and the soul of the finest blues players. It was that desire to expand his own musical foundation that lead him to suggest to Earl that perhaps they could start a band together—maybe play a “rockin’ bluegrassy kinda' thing”—a sort of Motley Cruegrass. That was the birth of Sacred Cowboys.   During the time it took the Cowboys to go from beer-soaked jam sessions to becoming an actual band, Peter directed and produced 12  hip-hop related documentaries with music producer Quincy D. “QD3” Jones, III, including Thug Angel: The Life of an Outlaw (on slain rapper Tupac Shakur),  Beef I, II & III,  and Black and Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop. Peter has gone on to produce, direct and acquire 13 more films under his Rugged Entertainment banner, with three more currently in production.   For a list of Peter’s film credit: Click here  

Ralph Stevens -  keyboards, banjo

Ralph grew up in Southern California singing and playing piano along with AM radio to sounds of the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, Motown and the country music that was crossing over. When Uncle Sam called Ralph ended up in Viet Nam where he became the music director for Command Military Touring Shows, a branch of Special Services providing entertainment for the troops. He performed and produced bands who flew out in helicopters into the field and performed on makeshift stages; it was a situation dramatized in the film, Apocalypse Now,  Back stateside Ralph returned to school and received a master’s degree in Music Composition from USC. His songs were recorded by various artists including Jackie DeShannon, Kelly Garrett and Nigel Olson (longtime drummer for Elton John).  Inspired by the avant-garde work of Frank Zappa, Ralph formed Raw Meat with his friend PR Paul (cast member of tv’s Fame). The two musicians recently reunited the cast of Fame to record a new composition of theirs, “Satellite”. Ralph first crossed paths with Earl Brown when they became neighbors, several years prior to the formation of Sacred Cowboys. When the band expanded, both in scope and size, Ralph was invited to saddle up. It was the perfect fit, giving him a new platform to write and perform with great musicians.  One of Ralph’s Sacred Cowboys songs, “Tell me Your Secrets,” was licensed for the film Bloodworth, starring Kris Kristofferson.  Ralph recently collaborated with multi-Grammy award nominee, country artist Deana Carter, writing the closing credit song “Celebrate Life” for the film, Queen Mimi. In the fall of 2015, Ralph fulfilled a long-time dream when he and his wife bought a small ranch in NE Los Angeles. He converted the guest house into a professional recording studio. It’s the perfect space for Sacred Cowboys; plenty of room, great sound, and it’s right next to the barn.

Jeff Robertson - lead guitar, harmony vocals

Jeff was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. His obsession with music began prior to age five, sparked by The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer” and fortified by a box of 45’s filled with late-sixties singles – Motown, the Beatles, and other classic Rock and R & B sides -- which were passed along by his music-loving teenage uncle. His musical training began at age ten with piano and organ lessons and continued with guitar lessons two years later. By the time he had turned fifteen, he’d cut enough lawns to afford a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Deluxe. Thus began the Garage Band Years. Barely past his 20th birthday, Jeff turned pro, spending five years playing guitar, bass, and keyboard in touring bar bands throughout the Southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean. The thousands of hours onstage, often in the company of older more experienced players, gave him a rock-solid musical foundation. Abandoning the road in favor of family life, he has nevertheless remained active in music. Since relocating to Southern California in 1988, Jeff has played a variety of styles in a variety of bands at a variety of well-known Los Angeles clubs: The Roxy, The Baked Potato, Harvelle’s, B.B. Kings, and the House of Blues. He is also musical director at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Burbank, which is where his association with Earl Brown began. Today, Jeff spends each and every minute of his limited spare time perfecting his execution of the absurdly dangerous, yet breathtakingly beautiful, F-flat minor sharp seventh diminished fifth arpeggio complete with a Chuck Berry dismount.

Mike Johnstone - pedal steel guitar, mandolin 

An incorrigible youth, Mike was sent to the Castle Heights Military Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. They may have been able to cut his hair, but they were not able to stamp out his passion for music. In fact, it was there that his true musical education began. Mike’s classmate and friend, Duane, was dedicated to learning his guitar and its musical foundation like no one Mike had encountered prior. Mike would watch for hours on end as Duane would manipulate with his toe the old B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and T-Bone Walker records on the phonograph, which sat on the floor, while trying to decipher the chords and lead progressions with his fingers. It was Duane who opened the door to all sorts of musical landscapes for Mike. While in the Military Academy, Duane started a band, the Allman Joys, with his brother Greg and invited Mike to play bass. After school ended, they went their separate ways but stayed in touch until Duane Allman’s untimely death in 1971. In the mid-60s, Mike played lead guitar in a band led by the pop singer Keith, who had a top ten hit on Mercury Records in 1967 with the song “98.6.” As Keith was climbing the charts, the Allman Joys changed their names to The Allman Brother’s Band and went on to quite a bit of success in their own right. After touring with/opening for/ hanging out with acts such as the Beach Boys, The Yardbirds, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Animals, and Cream, Mike traded his rock and roll guitar for a pedal steel. In the 70s, he toured and/or recorded with various artists such as Charley Pride, Ferlin Huskey, and Tex Williams. Others Mike has played with over the years include Leon Russell, Billy Swan, Randy Meisner, Dale Watson, Jim Lauterdale, and Riders of the Purple Sage. In addition to his work as a musician, Mike is also a music engineer and producer. In 2005, expanded his artistic palate by landing on ongoing featured background role on HBO’s Deadwood which is where he came in contact with Earl Brown and, in turn, the Sacred Cowboys.   Mike also plays solo gigs as a pianist, playing Latin Jazz and Standards from the American Songbook. He also continues to challenge himself musically, recently learning the Chapman Stick.

Alan Strommer - drums, harmony vocals

Alan was born in Los Angeles, CA and grew up in the San Fernando Valley, less than 10 miles from the epicenter of local music, Hollywood. Coming from a musical family (his father being an accordion/piano player and band leader) they knew from the age of 3 when he would bang on the pots and pans in the kitchen with wooden spoons he was destined to be a drummer.   In his youth, Alan was exposed to a wide array of music, but it was hearing drummer Ian Paice from Deep Purple play “Highway Star”, that set the course of his life. Alan’s thirst for music expanded to include blues and Motown artists such as B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and James Brown. However, his discovery of Led Zeppelin brought him to his skin-hitting hero, John “Bonzo” Bonham. Alan’s playing style is that most influenced by Bonham, but he attributes his diversity to an array of others, including Louie Bellson, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Stewart Copeland and Neil Peart.   Alan began drums lessons at age eight. By age thirteen, he’d saved enough money to buy a brand-new jet black Slingerland kit. At fifteen, Alan formed his first band with high school classmates. Not long after, he began gigging with the band “Boys Say No” at various local clubs, including the Country Club in Reseda and the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. By his late teens and early twenties you could find Alan in Hollywood EVERY weekend watching live music on The Strip. While Alan was not old enough to experience The Doors and Van Halen at their birth, he frequently saw both Motley Crue and Guns & Roses in their infancy.    By the time of his early thirties, Alan’s musical career was put on hold for to start a family. Unable to commit to full time to any one band, he continued to practice and sit-in with bands whenever the opportunity arose. In 2009, he went to hear a friend’s band perform at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. While he loved the sound and original songs, he knew his style of playing was a perfect fit. It didn’t take long to convince the band’s guitarist, Peter Spirer. With Alan behind the kit, they changed their name from MLC to Barnyard Cocks and went on to play bars and clubs in and around Los Angeles for several years. When Peter’s old Country/Rock/Americana band, Sacred Cowboys, reformed, Alan was recruited to hold down the beat.

Bruce Duff - bass
Former teen idol Bruce Duff grew up in the Inland Empire of California and moved to Hollywood to seek fame in 1979.  He has played punk rock with the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (ongoing), Jeff Dahl, the Adz and 45 Grave, outlaw country with Simon Stokes, and an unusual strain of heavy metal with Jesters of Destiny (ongoing).  Working behind the scenes in the music industry as an artist manager, label exec and publicist since the mid-‘80s, Bruce is also the author of “The Smell of Death.”
All other inquiries:  info@sacredcowboys.com