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Style Magazine

Happy Trails

Feb 01, 2010 09:51AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Photo by Dante Fontana

Seeking fame isn’t an act of bravery as much as it is a leap of faith.

El Dorado Hills musician James David Applegate (JDA), husband and father of three, is taking that leap of faith as we speak, with his new band JDA and the Closet Cowboys. Written on his honeymoon a year ago, the first single, entitled “2 a.m. Beauty Queen,” is a high-spirited barroom anthem that has all the humor and hooks of a bona fide country hit.

The philosophy behind JDA and The Closet Cowboys is simple. “My mother, who passed away when I was young, always said ‘you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it. And money doesn’t hurt.’ In this venture I’m relying solely on the mind as I ‘ain’t got the money,” JDA says.

As for the band name, it’s dedicated to the city dwellers who secretly long for the cowboy life, but whose lifestyle dictates otherwise; to all those cowboys and cowgirls who break loose on the weekends and set their wild country, “inner-cowboys” free.

Everything about JDA and the Closet Cowboys is 100 percent “DIY”. JDA put the band together using Craigslist, friends and local musicians. Then, with a video filmed in Folsom with family and local musicians, JDA took his music straight to the people. “2 a.m. Beauty Queen” was posted on You Tube on November 14, and has more than 2,000 views already.

No publicist. No record label. No album...yet, you could say he’s performing “without a net.” Ten years ago, maybe you’d be right. But when you’re starting out, as with any business, it’s all about who you know, and getting your name out to as many people as possible. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter make that a lot easier now and for folks like JDA, it’s a lot cheaper than “paying people in suits.” Besides, what kind of cowboy relies on anyone but himself? “DIY” is totally “cowboy,” and it suits JDA right down to the ground.

Though “2 a.m. Beauty Queen” hints at a stompin’ barroom tune, upcoming songs (there’s at least four more) are more serious and heartfelt. JDA is about to head into the studio with two more songs; a song about a soldier who is close to his heart, featuring JDA and a surprise female on vocals. Musically, JDA’s influences include everyone from Hank Williams, Jr. and Johnny Cash, to Frank Sinatra, Kid Rock, Massive Attack and Michael Jackson. Releasing “2 a.m. Beauty Queen” as the first single was a deliberate choice by using humor and catchiness to help establish an initial following and pave the way for the somewhat more serious, more “mainstream” upcoming tracks where JDA can show his versatility.

What about the future? You can’t tie a cowboy down with goals or guarantees...but every cowboy has a brass ring they’re reaching for, and JDA is no exception. “A dream of mine is to have somebody one day recognize one of the songs I have written,” he says. We think it would be pretty cool too!

To see more about JDA go to: “2 a.m. Beauty Queen,”(or scroll down to view on this page),, and