Garner Fire Captain Bud Davenport always keeps his guitar at Volunteer Fire-Rescue Station 4.
Fifteen years ago, he and his co-worker Don Johnson, a captain with Garner Fire-Rescue, decided to take off-duty jamming to the stage, a decision that has most recently led to a country band with a growing following.
The Antique Outlaws are a band of country music-loving firefighters made up of Johnson – the band’s guitarist and vocalist, drummer Tim Herman and bassist Bill English along with Davenport, a vocalist and guitarist.
“We play the country when country was country,” Davenport said. “It’s outlaw country.”
Davenport and Johnson started their performances by playing gospel music at churches. They traveled around the state and called themselves In Christian Company, producing a CD in 2002.
Soon, their performances expanded to coffee shops. Their mutual friend, Bill English, a recent retiree retired from the Cary Fire Department, caught their eye with his musical experience.
“Bill had played for several bands and we would talk about one day playing together,” Davenport said.
Six months ago, they added Herman, Deputy Chief at Garner Fire-Rescue, and their band was formed.
Since then, the Outlaws have performed several times at the Aversboro Restaurant.
The band was committed after their first performance.
“We had a ball,” Johnson said. “Everyone seemed to enjoy the music and have a good time.”
Although a lot of firemen come out to their events, Davenport said, more of the community has shown up and followed their performances.
“There’s more interest in it than I thought there would be,” he said. “Not a lot of bands out there that play this stuff. That’s why we do it.”
Popular cover requests include the music of Hank Williams Jr and Johnny Cash and “The Ride” by band favorite David Allen Coe.
“Country music is antique, and other than Tim the rest of us are pretty antique,” Davenport said of their name.
Between hectic schedules, scheduling practices and performances is tricky. Their jobs are taxing mentally and physically.
“We work together on a regular basis but when we play music it is more relaxed,” Johnson said. The deputy chief and captain become a drummer and guitarist.
He added that many people know them from their job – often during upsetting situations.
“They are usually not in a great mood. Someone is either hurt or something is burning. When we are playing music everyone is happy. That makes it fun.”
The Antique Outlaws will trade in their fire gear for guitars again on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at Aversboro Restaurant.
“We will be there unless something big is burning in town,” Johnson said with a laugh.