The bad boys of the local country music scene are coming to the Live Nation Music First stage at Montage Mountain before the Brad Paisley/Jewel show, and they aren’t packing light. Iron Cowboy touts six musicians and about just as many different instruments. The group is made up of “Big John” Davis, lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and mandolin; Fran Czuba, lead guitar and vocals; “Jeepin’ Joe” Michaels, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals; “Diamond Dave” Baratta, steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin; Mike “Roscoe” LaNunziata, drums and vocals; and Scott Wenrich, bass guitar and vocals. Davis sat down with The Weekender to discuss the Saturday, July 25 performance.
Weekender: What’s your musical background?
Davis: I started playing drums when I was eight years old, and I started singing as soon as my mom and dad discovered I could carry a tune. My dad is a retired pastor, so I started singing in church when I was a kid. My influences range from Boston and Journey to Black Sabbath and Lynyrd Skynyrd. That’s the case with most of the guys in the band; there’s a real wide variety of interests in music and collectively we listen to all sorts of different stuff.
Weekender: With such eclectic tastes coming together to form the band, what would you say is Iron Cowboy’s definitive style?
Davis: We’re modern country with Southern rock flair. All of us, at one point in time, have been in rock bands. We’ve all played a lot of Southern rock and blues before. That’s where the horsepower thing comes in.
Weekender: You do say that the band plays “country music with horsepower,” and with a name like Iron Cowboy, there’s a big motorcycle feel surrounding the band. Are any of you big bike guys?
Davis: Fran and I actually ride. I ride Victory and Fran’s a Harley guy.
Weekender: What’s your favorite song to cover?
Davis: “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle. I just love the song. It’s got a lot of strings in it; we’ve got three guitars and two mandolins going in the song. It’s also kind of one of those crossover songs that you’d hear on both country and rock stations. We always get an incredible crowd response when we play it.
Weekender: Ever played to a large crowd before?
Davis: We were fortunate enough to open for Craig Morgan a couple months ago, so we’re not really strangers to the big stage. The first time I walked out on a stage and had 6,000 people in front of me, it was a little intimidating. As far as Brad Paisley goes, it’s a total, total rush. We’re excited. It’s cool to know that Brad Paisley will be following us.
Who: Brad Paisley, Jewel, Chuck Wicks, Julianne Hough
When: Fri., July 25, 7:30 p.m.
Music First Stage, 6 p.m.
Where: Toyota Pavilion at
Montage Mountain, Scranton
Tickets: $32.50 (lawn), $42.50-$57.25 reserved
Music First Stage free