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Buck Nickels and Loose Change

Buck Nickels and Loose Change

Buck Nickels learned his cowboy ways in Sonoma, California’s Valley of the Moon. As a little fella, he watched his grandpa work the cattle on the family ranch and soon had his own horse and saddle. The old buckboard buggy was his first lesson in driving and by the time he was old enough to get his license, he was in the driver’s seat of a 1969 Peterbuilt hauling grain for the family cattle-feed business. Western saddles and blue-ribbon rodeo riding were his whole world – until that fateful day. While driving his grandpa’s 1930s sixteen-cylinder Cadillac across the ranch, Buck heard Bob Wills on the radio and he knew he was destined to be a country star. He found an old Martin at the local pawn shop and learned a few tunes. By the time he bought his Telecaster, he was writing his own songs and serenading the local cowgirls. Vineyards have replaced the golden grass and oaks of the valley but barbed-wire fences protect the cattle and horses that still roam the ranch. At the end of a long day, Buck leaves his boots and hat by the door, pours himself a glass of private reserve and picks up that old Martin. He’s workin’ on his latest tune – and he’s comin’ to your town soon.

Larry ‘Loose Change’ Cragg changes gears as easily as his name implies. A respected guitar repairman and Neil Young’s guitar tech by day, as the sun sinks below the horizon, he dons his black Stetson, slips on his finger picks and sits down at his trusty pedal steel. As a boy of five, he would fall asleep listening to the local country station, but his parents were into Mozart and had different plans – piano and oboe. A rebel from the git-go, it was not long before he laid down the oboe and left his classical training in the dust. With his sights set on steel strings he purchased his first banjo and guitar. Rock-n-Roll was blasting the airwaves as he entered high school and he was soon playing bass in a power trio. Then, in the summer of 1967, he hit the trail – heading west in search of gold and the Monterey Pop Festival. He set up camp in the badlands north of San Francisco and played in a number of local rock bands but his heart was still hankerin’ for country so, with one foot in the stirrup, he purchased his first pedal steel and found himself on a runaway stallion. During his many years touring the rock-and-roll circuit he has had the opportunity to play a variety of instruments in bands with Neil Young, Nils Lofgren and Clarence Clemons but he always comes home to country. These days you can find him playing pedal steel in a kick-ass country band.