THE BELFAST COWBOYS is a nine-piece, horn-driven band from Minneapolis that specializes in the music of Van Morrison, mixing rock, blues, roots, and soul sounds. Led by veteran songwriter and guitarist Terry Walsh and powered by a four-piece horn section, the Cowboys have flourished in the renowned Minnesota music scene, and have consistently packed houses and wowed crowds since 2002.
Terry Walsh got his start playing in various Twin Cities rock bands and toured as Slim Dunlap’s bass player in 1997, opening for Son Volt. But after 17 years, he almost gave it all up. “I was very close to selling off my amp and guitars in an attempt to put away childish things and grow up,” Terry laughs. “Thankfully I got a call from my friend and booking agent Brian Swanson, who asked if I wanted to come join their ‘go nowhere, do nothing rock and roll band.’”
For a couple years, the band of friends rehearsed every Thursday, learning songs they loved. Then in spring of 2001, Terry lost his day job and learned his wife was pregnant. Brian once again prodded Terry, “I think we should put your idea about that Van Morrison band in motion.” They spent the rest of the year learning their favorite Van songs and built up an all-star band with Joe Loskota on keyboards and Vic Volare to run the horn section. Calling themselves The Belfast Cowboys, the band played their first show at the old 400 Bar on Saint Patrick’s Day 2002. Shortly before that show, Brian accepted his dream job in California. Fortunately, drummer Dave Kirby’s friend, ace guitarist Dan Kowalke attended that first show and joined up. Many musicians played with the band over the first few years, and continue to do so today, but the 'A' team was soon established: Dan Kowalke on guitar and backing vocals, Joe Baumgart (bass), Dave Kirby and Dave Haugen (drums, backing vocals), Joe Loskota (keyboards, backing vocals), Paul Gronert (sax), Matt Hanzelka (trombone), Tim Martin (trumpet), Vic Volare (sax, flute), and Terry Walsh (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano).
The band has expanded its content over the years to include rock and soul covers along with Terry’s own originals, which have become fan favorites. Now a beloved staple in Minnesota, the 9-piece Belfast Cowboys, and the smaller version of the band (known as St. Dominic’s Trio), averaged over 120 shows a year before the pandemic. The bar-tested troubadours are known for playing epic sets at their weekly Minneapolis gigs and drawing large crowds to outdoor festivals. Occasionally they’ll venture beyond the Midwest to play Ireland, Phoenix, New York’s Times Square, and once opened for the band Chicago in front of 15,000 people.
St Dominic's Trio live-streams weekly shows on Facebook every Tuesday night, raising money for Walsh's nonprofit, Foothold Twin Cities. In May of 2021, the Belfast Cowboys released an expansive live from-the-studio album called This Magic Night, proving again that it is indeed “a thoroughbred-class band” (Star Tribune) that has earned every accolade.
In May 2023, the Belfast Cowboys released "Look at the Moon, Betty," a single from their forthcoming album of all original music, titled Beezus Drew a Dragon.