Between the Wars

The Gothic Cowboy

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Between the Wars

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This 26 song Americana album varies over time and terrain, from the buffalo hunt to hemp-picking in Kansas a century on, depicting trials of life and temptations of heart and soul.

The Gothic Cowboy (aka M.Litton): I’m a creek-bank-ghetto boy, a two-legged child of the prairie. I been blown between the Rockies and the Rising Sun, and I’ve tumbled up against a few cities. I began my singin’ on the northern tip of the Louisiana Purchase, along the night shores of Edmonton, Alberta. I stayed the whiskey season then caught a warm southeasterly. I’ve touched Canada, the North Atlantic, and mined Colorado all over; I found that Kansas has the softest loins. The military trained me to stand upright and I’ve worked a pick-ax and shoveled my grave a thousand times. The booze has begun to line my face. I’ve got an opinion on everything and I’ll sing till I’m hoarse or the stalls are empty. I consider myself a neo-pagan, a bat-winged balladeer. The earth is my totem and I hold by her and all her species. I fly the banner of the Dagger and the Rose and declare my faith in both; all this is in my songs. The Shepherd of Wolves, moon-mad and musical, I ain’t no socialist jukebox. Mostly I bat my own pitches, though I’ll hit an occasional Jimmie Rodger’s spitter, the Hank William’s slow ball, and that Bob Dylan slider. I’m traditional enough to walk some pretty ballad and mean enough to go down swingin’ against the knuckle ball… *Note: When I retired The Border Band in 2016 after a twenty-year run, I aimed to ride out my days playing solo. But I soon joined up with "Mando" Dan Hermreck, a fine player and even finer fellow. You can catch his sounds on our new acoustic CD "Between the Wars" along with two exceptional guest artists: Jeff Jackson on standup bass, and Til Willis on harmonica...

Between the Wars (cd description and credits) – From the buffalo hunt to hemp-picking in Kansas a century on, these songs vary over time and terrain, depicting trials of life and temptations of heart and soul. “Caspion & the White Buffalo” was inspired by a newspaper article dated 1894; while “Montana Bound” is drawn from a rare little book, Log of a Cowboy, by Andy Adams (1903). Three murder ballads are based on true tales told to me: “Pretty Mary” from my brother Jim; “Murder of Bob Rose” from my mother Neva; and “Cold Ohio City” I heard off an old miner named Roscoe Riddle. Of course I borrow from the great Leadbelly for “Marijuana Song,” though the experience is wholly my own, further framed in “The Creek-bank Ghetto Boys.” And the title track is a tragic ode to a generation of young soldiers sadly used and cast aside, like so many others, left haunted by “The War Wind…” – m.litton

Special thanks to my good buddy Dan Hermerck for hanging with me. Can’t say enough for these two guest talents: Til Willis and Jeff Jackson. And mighty grateful for the keen advice and patience of Tommy Perez. Melvin Litton: vocals and guitar Dan Hermreck: mandolin and backup vocals Til Willis: harmonica Jeff Jackson: bass fiddle (or standup bass?) Recorder/mixed at Wolfdog by M.Litton Mastered by Tommy Perez – Guitar Studio, Lawrence, KS (785-452-1667) CD design-layout by Til Willis Photos by Brian Byers, Til Willis, M.Litton


PHWOAR! for "Between the Wars" from The Rocking Magpie

December 13, 2019 Alan Harrison

The Rustic Heartworn Highway is Re-Opened This album arrived after its release date, which normally means it doesn’t even get a play; but …….. there was ‘something’ about the guys name ‘The Gothic Cowboy’ and the sepia tinged CD cover that made me pick it up a couple of times last week; and again on Sunday morning; which was when I weakened. PHWOAR! Now this is going to be a bit of a brave statement; I was totally engrossed straight from opening track Border Blues, a ‘song of our times’ and ……… in …. deep breath ….. sung in the vein of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Everything from Litton’s weary and grizzled voice through the rusty yet sharp lyrics and story and coming out with a minimal production that makes every note and word as clear as a mountain stream. There’s a lot to get through here; as it’s a Double Album …… 26 tracks in all; and there isn’t much light to balance the shade of the dark and very dark tales; but if you wanted Pop Music you wouldn’t have bought this anyway; would you? You can close your eyes and press ‘random’ to find a killer song; Summer Days are Long, with Dan Hermreck’s mandolin and Til Willis’s mournful harmonica complimenting Litton’s tale of constant sorrow; or it may be Cold Ohio City; a ‘talking Blues’ that genuinely will leave you spellbound; and if it’s Caspion & The White Buffalo you will find yourself leaning in towards the speakers so as not to miss a single word of this harrowing historical anecdote set to music. Just like the songs of Townes and Guy, there’s a real rustic beauty to Yellow Rose Motel and Marijuana Fields; the likes of which most of us never expected to hear again. …….. and that’s only the first album! I normally expect Double Albums to be retrospectives or Live Recordings; but as far as I can ascertain these are songs that Melvin Litton has had on the back-burner during the 20 years of his previous career in the Border Band and this has been his first opportunity to dust them off and let the world hear them in all their glory. The second album opens with the fabulously titled Creek-Bank Ghetto Boys; which if nothing else would make a great t-shirt; but Hell …… it’s powerful Country-Folk song that just may turn your world upside down! Quite often I receive albums of this ilk where the performer is trying too hard to sound like Van Zandt or even early Dylan; but Melvin Litton just sounds like himself which just happens to sound parallel to what those greats sounded like; back in the day. I guess Litton plays a lot of Folk Festivals; but to me intimate songs like The Devil’s Daughter, Sunday Morning and especially Indian Land will be best suited to a small club where the audience are packed in and can hear and appreciate every chord change, let alone these exquisite stories. As I say this is a Double Album made up of 13 songs on each platter; but Litton has a lot to say; and isn’t afraid to let the tape keep rolling, which gives us a couple of opuses too; with Murder of Bob Rose coming in at nigh on ten minutes, and Montana Bound at seven and a half; but if you get that far you will appreciate that these songs need that length to allow the stories to breathe and resonate too. Gosh; this has been a long (and thoroughly enjoyable) couple of days; but selecting a Favourite Song is nigh on impossible. There’s not a single commercial, catchy tune here …… this is Folk Music at it’s finest; but I suppose Holly ‘n the Drifter or Yellow Rose Hotel from album #1 and Help Me Crossover from #2 are all songs I can point you towards; with Yellow Rose Motel probably shading it as a song I’ve come back to to play on it’s own; so that song is officially the RMHQ Favourite Song on this wonderful Double Album of songs and music that I genuinely never expected to like half as much as I have.

"Between the Wars" --

November 12, 2019 Valere Sampermans (Valsam)

“Lots of booze and a heavy life have marked the hoarse voice of the American singer-songwriter Melvin Litton who is performing under the name of ‘The Gothic Cowboy’, assisted by his best friend and mandoline player Dan Hermreck aka ‘Mando Dan’. Together they have recorded 26 storytelling songs on the acoustic double cd ‘Between The Wars’ where several influences from a.o. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt can easily be traced.“ –

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