Arts and Entertainment

Sandman the Rappin Cowboy returns to Winterland July 24

A roamin, ramblin, rappin cowboy — Chris Sand. - Courtesy Photo/Emily Nash
A roamin, ramblin, rappin cowboy — Chris Sand.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo/Emily Nash

He’s a 'country boy in a hip hop band.'

When he last came through town, Chris Sand sat next to a faux campfire while singing his songs on stage.

Some folks in the audience had brought their own lawn chairs, transforming Winterland into a pseudo campsite for the evening — a fitting setting for the likes of a rappin’ cowboy.

“I need something to ground me and make me feel like I’m more in my own element,” said Sand, AKA Sandman the Rappin’ Cowboy, a Montana boy who’s been a freedom-seeking touring musician for the past 17 years.

“I want it to feel like these are my friends and they’re here to relax,” he went on in his thick country accent. “Something that harkens back to the primal days of cavemen just hanging out, telling stories, making up lies and things like that.”

Even after the years of shows, Sand said he still gets nervous before he performs which will likely happen again on July 24 when he returns to Winterland.

Last time he came around, he left a powerful impression — one that’s resonated in many of the places he’s played over the past decade and a half.

“He just blew us away,” said Pat Makins, local musician and hype man for the band Rewind, who was at the January Sandman show and will be opening up for The Rappin’ Cowboy this time around, with a special project created just for this show.

At the last Sandman show, Makins said he and a few friends pitched in to buy all eight of Sandman’s CDs, which he then combined into a 30-song best-of compilation and would later insist must be listened to before writing anything about The Rappin’ Cowboy.

With a name — or perhaps more so a disclaimer — like “The Rappin’ Cowboy,” the schtick is thick.

Add in the mp3 tributes to Michael Jackson and “Rappers’ Delight” on the Sandman’s myspace page, along with a YouTube video of the awkward skinny country boy rappin’ about how his ‘mama’ loves ‘Obama,’ and the gimmick quickly climbs over the top.

But at his core — and readily apparent on Makins’ compilation disc — the Sandman is indelibly authentic. Insert the ‘Last of the Real Cowboys’ cliche here. Punk Planet called him “Our Troubadour for the 21st Century.”

“I remember in middle school or something, I took one of those tests to find out what you’re going to be,” Sand recalled. “Well, mine was janitor, and I thought, I’d rather not work at all. I thought, maybe I’d be a bum. I just wanted to be free. And this is the closest thing I can find — writing songs, traveling and meeting new people.”

Sand grew up somewhat isolated on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana on a ranch which his great-grandparents had homesteaded nearly a century before. While driving tractors and doing chores in his teens, he would combat the boredom by coming up with poems in his head.

“Those poems were really just songs,” he said. “But I didn’t know I was a songwriter.”

Later hip hop music making its way to the midwest in the mid-80s would light a fire under a young Sand. The influence of artists like Michael Jackson, Prince and Run DMC fused with that which he gleaned from his parents — Dylan, Guthrie, Hank Williams and the like. Then, when Sand enrolled in Evergreen State College, “as a front to get paid for what I wanted to do,” The Rappin Cowboy was born. And at age 38, he’s still roamin’, ramblin’ and rappin’ with his 10th album, and a feature film documentary on his travels slated for later this year.

SANDMAN THE RAPPIN' COWBOY will jam with Pat Makins and Brian Duclos as The Deuce Bags and Neutralboy who’ll be hosting their CD release for ‘Best Sex Ever’ that night, starting at 9:30 p.m., 21+, $7 cover at Winterland, 1220 Sylvan Way in Bremerton. Info: www.therappincowboy.com,myspace.com/winterlandrocks.

ANOTHER RAMBLIN MAN

Wingnut Dishwashers Union — an explosive, often one-man band and front operation for a pragmatic anarchistic theory and practice emphasizing things like a nationwide bus collective and vegetable gardening over dressing in black and breaking things — returns to the Artists for Freedom and Unity, July 24, for a show, with Country Control and guests. All ages, $5, 318 N. Callow Ave. in Bremerton.

Info: www.wingnutdishwashersunion.com, myspace.com/artfreeunity.

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