The Boxcar Bandits


“…Boxcar Bandits are perfectly comfortable creating controlled chaos. With acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin, dobro, banjo and more these Texans unleash a veritable whirlwind of bluesgrass goodness.” –


Review of Live at Dan’s Silver Leaf, Dallas Observer:

“Recorded throughout the month of April 2011, this live effort serves as the sophomore release from Boxcar Bandits, longtime stalwarts of the Denton music scene, following up debut Smells Like Grass. The band’s Monday night residency at Dan’s Silverleaf has become one of the better hootenannies in the area, and nothing more accurately represents the ensemble’s “skunkgrass” than a recording in front of their faithful horde.
Indeed, the 14 songs presented here are recorded with such precision one starts to question whether or not the audience reactions were dubbed in later. The playing is so skillful on “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” “Mixed Up Mess of a Heart” and “Fool’s Prayer” that it serves as testament to both the instrumentalists and the sound engineer.
And while folk and alt-country can sometimes be played with too much skill, the picking and fiddling of Austin Smith, Andy Rogers and the rest of this group is always just ragged enough to engage instead of impress. Special kudos go to accordion player Ginny Mac and percussionist Grady Don Sandlin for adding details that actually embellish the songs and never serve simply as window dressing.
What works best about Live at Dan’s is the lack of hayseed silliness that sometimes accompanies music of this nature. There are no “Aw, shucks” moments in the entire show, no embarrassing stabs at Hee Haw humor. As a matter of fact, the best use of humor is the album cover, a clever and spot-on send up of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Even the inside photos mimic the album. Rarely does a band, local or otherwise, create an effort where the album design is as intelligent and unique as the music contained within.” – Daryl Smyers

“After Foe Destroyer’s set, fellow Denton band Boxcar Bandits played their own brand of music they like to call “skunkgrass.” The band is a revolving door of Denton musicians – including Paul Slavens – and the current lineup is guaranteed to get your boots stomping and your hands clapping. The band features a single snare drum and washboard played by RTB2’s Grady Don Sandlin, plus an upright bass, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and some of the best vocal harmonies this side of the Red River.

Boxcar Bandits would be comfortable playing on a stage, a street corner, or a front porch. Their mixture of gospel, country, and bluegrass – or “fastgrass” as they call it – is exactly what was needed to get fans to the dance floor at the Boiler Room.

After Boxcar Bandits’ furious picking skills, fans were warmed up for the headliner of the evening.”-Jessica Harp,

August 3rd, 2010 by Travis McAnally

On a Monday that topped out at 105 degrees the Boxcar Bandits packed in a healthy sized crowd to Dan’s Silverleaf with the draw of a free show filled with a few hours of amazing bluegrass and the relief of two dollar beers and air conditioning. The Bandits even graced the crowd with two sets. The band, normally a six piece outfit, had two guest performers, Burton Lee on the Dobro (from the group Eleven Hundred Springs) and Andy Rodgers (the former bass player for Oso Closo on banjo) sitting in on the first and second sets, respectively.

Few bands have the unique gift of every member being a virtuoso at their instruments; the Boxcar Bandits are one of those lucky few. Fiddle player, Austin Smith has the fastest fingers this side of the Horseshoe Casino card sharks and accordion player Ginny Mac sets her accordion aflame with her knockout solos. Not only can they play, each member is a talented singer which showed as they traded off vocal duties for nearly every song, with percussionist Grady Don Sandlin, bass player Ryan Williams, guitarist Hillary Early and mandolin player Texas Rex Emerson taking most of the leads. The great thing about this group is that Sandlin and Williams, who are mostly rhythm section players for other bands, get the chance to show off their excellent skills as lead vocalists.

The Bandits played through a set list of original material from their album “Smells Like Grass,” and covered songs like ‘Operator’ by Jim Croce and the traditional ‘All for Me Grog’ where they sang “It’s all for me beer and tobacco!” The Bandits seem to have a knack for blending the traditional bluegrass sound with Caribbean island rhythms to create their self-titled ‘Skunkgrass’ sound.

This show was the last show the Bandits will be doing in Denton for the next couple of weeks because they will be embarking on a US tour with stops in North Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Colorado, and then back to Texas. The show was a fine send off for one of Denton’s hardest working bands, and when a band says that their “Highway is my home” in their lyrics, you know they’ll have a great tour.

Denton Record Chronicle, Denton TX 3/10

Boxcar Bandits offer mountain jams anyone can enjoy

by Tim Monzingo
Sat. March 13th 2010

There was hardly a foot that could stop tapping. The people on the dance floor cast aside all inhibitions for the sake of pure, unadulterated joy. The patio was packed with barely enough room to stand and bounce to the mountain tunes pouring out of the mandolin, banjo, snare and stand-up base. The accordion and violin player’s faces were contorted in ways that only lightning bolts of musical energy can create.

The Boxcar Bandit show at Sweetwater can be described as nothing less than religious for fans of the bluegrass genre. From classic bluegrass tunes to homegrown jams, the band played a show that could compete with such names as Old Crow Medicine Show and Yonder Mountain String Band.

The urban-rural feel that has been attributed to Denton has no better example than the people in cowboy hats dancing next to hippies and hipsters on the crowded Sweetwater Grill & Tavern patio. The end of each tune brought more than a cheer from the crowd; more like the enthusiastic death-by-bluegrass scream exhaled by Appalachia’s deepest rooted families.

They couldn’t get enough of it and if that was all they could stand in life, so be it. The fervor of the crowd was unrivaled by any show so far at the conferette. Fans of anything with a palpable soul and a living energy should look into Boxcar Bandits for a romping, roll-in-the-hay good time. (DFW, TX)

“It’s nothing but fun when these Denton dudes get together to play loose, beer-soaked bluegrass. There are two shows this weekend – one in Little D and another in Fort Worth.”

Amarillo Globe News, Amarillo, TX 6/09

Boxcar Bandits Call Style “North Texas Skunkgrass”

Look for the beards.

That’s a sure sign you’ve arrived at a Boxcar Bandits show.

“We’re all very hairy fellows. Everybody has a beard of some form or another,” explained band member Rex Emerson. “When we roll up to a place, it’s like the barbarians have arrived.”

Barbarians, maybe, but with bluegrass in their blood.

The Denton-based five-piece band will play at 9pm Thursday at the Golden Light Cantina, 2906 S.W. Sixth Ave.

The group’s sound is rounded out by guitar, percussion, bass, fiddle and mandolin.

“We call it North Texas Skunkgrass,” Emerson said. “We’re influenced by that old ragtime style.”

The band’s first album, “Smells Like Grass,” was released in August. The nine-track record includes all original songs.

A second project is in the words. “Far Mountain Gravy” will be released later this year, Emerson said.

The band will play a series of shows in June, take a break for recording in July, and then hit the road again to wrap up the summer.

Performances are lively, with an emphasis on quickly paced bluegrass rhythms, Emerson said.

“A lot of people come out and start dancing around right away,” Emerson said. “It turns into a big party, beards and all.”

Tickets to Thursday’s concert are $6.

For information, call 806-374-0094. (Denton TX)

This Friday Night is your chance to bend Friday the 13th over and take proper care of it

Here’s what they had to say about us:

“And rounding it out are local bluegrass whiskey-killers The Boxcar Bandits.

I think these guys were Bukowski’s favourite bluegrass band, but i may just be abusing the eponymous editorial license for me to mention it.”

Fort Worth Weekly, 8/07

The Fort Worth Weekly published an article in their Hearsay on October 3, 2007, entitled “Newgrass, New Guard” regardin’ the Rolling Trainwreck Country Show, spearheaded by 100 Damned Guns, at our favorite place and yours, Fred’s Cafe in the Fort. Here’s what they had to say about us:

“Boxcar Bandits are fun and mix up time signatures to good effect”

Here’s a link to the article:

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