“A country band is one of the most important aspects of Cowboy Church,” said George McConathy. The Cowboy Cross Band began life soon after the first service of Cowboy Church of Orange County held Oct. 14, 2007 in the blue barn.

It wasn’t a full-fledged band at first; it sort of evolved over time.

“As far as the band goes, I’m the bass player and they force me to sing some of the time,” said McConathy, who is one of the lay pastors at the church.

“The point of Cowboy Church is to appeal to people that for whatever reason just won’t go to church,” said McConathy. “The church doesn’t want them or they don’t want their regular church, for whatever reason, not that there’s anything wrong with any of it, it’s just the way it is. There are people that are not going [to church] and we’re trying to reach them,” said McConathy.

“Pastor Dale says real often Cowboy Church is not for everyone. He says if God is calling you to Cowboy Church, then we want you. If he’s not, then you need to find another church home,” said Pam Scales Crew Honeycutt or “Crew Cutt” as she joked. Honeycutt recently married Rusty Honeycutt, a member of Cowboy Cross Band about two weeks ago and is still working on what the new version of her name will be. She said she greeted all the guests at the door of the church before the wedding and at the end; they jitterbugged out of the church.

“We have three steel guitar players and they switch out,” said Honeycutt. “Our main steel guitar player is a shift worker. They kinda switch out and George calls one of them and all three are good, that’s the best part.”

Paul Welch is the band leader.

“We had a guest band come in the first service because none of us knew anything. I just showed up there in the barn.” The Bent Bucket Band was the guest band. “I think it was about two weeks later that I started playing with them. Members just gradually added people, a steel guitar, drums, and harmonica. Some have left, some came, some stayed, some didn’t. It has been an evolving process.”

“We’re very blessed,” said McConathy. “One of them actually played with some of the big boys, you know, in Nashville and some other places.”

“Got his name on records,” said Honeycutt.

Mel Stephen is his name.

“He tickles me, because he’s been playing steel guitar forever,” said McConathy. “He kinda got burned out one time. He quit. I don’t know how long. It was a few years that he wouldn’t play. We started back playing. Somebody asked him once, how long he had been playing. He said, ‘Oh, a couple years this time.’”

“He’s a really nice guy,” said Honeycutt. “And he’s modest, you can tell. He’s really good too.”

McConathy said, “The thing about Mel is he’s really hard to get know because he’s doing a lot of studio work and traveling all over.”

Another of their steel guitar players is a well-known local musician, Doug Childress. “Doug, if he doesn’t have another commitment, he’ll play with you every time you ask him,” said McConathy.

Sydney Malone is their regular steel guitar player.

Bert Hoffpauir plays rhythm guitar and Pam’s husband Rusty switches from rhythm guitar and lead as necessary. Louis Philips, one of the newest members of the band plays lead guitar. Loren Slabaugh not only plays, but sings sometimes.

“They are always begging George to sing,” said Honeycutt. “’Build me a cabin in the corner of Glory Land’ is my favorite song he sings.”

“He’s a good addition to the band and everybody appreciates George and likes to listen to the old jokes he tells about his time when he lived in North Louisiana.”

The Cowboy Cross Band will entertain this weekend at the Riverfront Festival for the Bassmaster Elite Tournament on Sunday. It was earlier reported the band will play from 1:30-2 p.m., but the time has been changed. They will begin at 1 p.m.

Pictured are: George McConathy, Rachel Harbuck, Paul Welch-band leader, Lewis Phillips, Loren Slabaugh, Linda Carlton, Mike Rector, Bert Hoffpauir, (seated) Belinda Malone, Sidney Malone and Rusty Honeycutt. Photo Courtesy of Stump Weatherford.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.