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"Merle Haggard with Jimi Hendrix sitting in"

"Dwight Yoakam meets the Flaming Lips"

"Creedence, Willie, Waylon and Johnny Paycheck, with a little Iron Butterfly added for spice"


Contraband Countryband is a 21st century cosmic honky-tonk band. Beginning as a studio project for leader Jared Nelson's more "singer/songwriterly" material, the band has evolved into a potent live act with a reputation for getting audiences grooving. Playing originals rooted in country and rock tradition, but often with touches from classic hard rock and psychedelia, in addition to a range of classic and obscure covers ranging from Merle, Waylon, and Ely to the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, and Ornette Coleman, Contraband Countryband present a heady mix of grooves and dynamics intended to straddle the line between barn dances and underground rock clubs.


Jared Nelson grew up on Fir Island at the delta of the Skagit River in northwest Washington. As a child, Waylon, Willie, Emmylou, and other country music were mainstays in the Nelson house, but Jared was more keen on Led Zeppelin, Sonic Youth, and the Velvet Underground. It was as an 18-year working on a salmon fishing boat in SE Alaska that Jared began his true appreciation for country music.  

L to R: Jeff Jackson (Bass), Bowie McLean (Drums), Simon Henneman (Lead Guitar), Jared Nelson (Guitar & Vocals)

After serving as a lead guitarist and songwriter in Seattle rock bands since 2000, Jared Nelson recorded the first Contraband Countryband album, I'm Dressed Like a Bullfighter on the Inside  with friend Dave Webb (Moon Letters, Spacebag, Wah Wah Exit Wound, Girth). Shortly thereafter, Jared formed a live band which has featured a changing line-up of musicians pulled from Seattle's progressive underground music scene. Emphasizing feel above tradition, the combination of Jared's sturdy songs and his band's unique approach results in an exciting update of traditional American music. 

The current line-up features Simon Henneman (Diminished Men, Authentic Luxury) one of Seattle's busiest and most respected guitarists and composers. Simon has been playing lead with CBCB for 10 years and and produced the 2020 album, ALL NIGHT PARTY. Bassist Jeff Jackson has played with Seattle underground legends Kled for nearly two decades and holds down the low-end with primitive blues-rockers Duwamish Head and occult psychedelic metal band Kitsune. Drummer Bowie McLean played with Jared in Wah Wah Exit Wound (as the bassist) and has performed bass and drums in numerous in Seattle over the last 20 years. 

Founding member Chris Borgia has recently shifted to rhythm guitar and vocals after 15 years of holding down bass duties.

Looking for and working on the groove (Photo: Karin Nelson)

During the COVIDIAN Age, Contraband Countryband released two new full-length records.

ALL NIGHT PARTY (August 2020) is largely a straight-ahead country-rock record featuring songs about drinking, relationships, and other timeworn topics. Recording by Simon Henneman in sparkling hi-fi, All Night Party is CBCB's attempt to dress up nice and put their best foot forward. In addition to the more straight-ahead material, the record features the title track, a 20-minute live-in-studio jam featuring a 10-piece band.

TALES FROM THE PSYCHEDELIC CLOSET, VOL. 1: GOOD LUCK, PLANET EARTH (May 2021) is a largely instrumental record consisting of various lo-fi sound explorations with a few pop songs thrown in for good measure. 




Willie Nelson & Family

Merle Haggard & the Strangers

Waylon Jennings & the Waylors

Jerry Jeff Walker

The Lost Gonzo Band

Doug Sahm

Joe Ely

Jimi Hendrix

Sonic Youth

Paul Westerberg

Frank Zappa

Julian Cope

Neil Young

Flaming Lips

Steve Earle

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

Ornette Coleman

Dwight Yoakam


Hank Thompson

Ray Price



  •    Drunky's Two Shoes

  •    Blue Moon Tavern 

  •    Slim's Last Chance 

  •    Tractor Tavern 

  •    Sunset Tavern 

  •    (Old) Funhouse 

  •    (Old) Comet Tavern 

  •    Jewelbox Theater @ the Rendezbous

  •    ReBar


  • Twisp River Alehouse (Twisp)

  • Sessions Lounge (Eugene)

  • Dehn Bar (Salem)

  • No Fun Bar (Portland)

  • Logger's Landing (Quilcene)

  • Whistling Post (Skykomish)

  • Evelyn's Tavern (Clear Lake)

  • Treehouse Cafe (Bainbridge Island)


 Festivals and Fundraisers  

  •   Music in the Park (Skykomish, 2019, 2022)

  •    SoPaSuPa (South Park Summer Party, 2022)​​

  •    Rat Patrol & Pistol Packin' Mama's Spring Opener (Georgetown, 2017)

  •    Music is the Best Fest 2 (Seattle, 2017)

  •    Phi Tau Fraternity - Dad's Weekend (Pullman, 2016)

  •    Fruitstock (Vashon Island, 2011 & 2013)

  •    Slow Food Roots Music Festival (Stanwood, 2011)

  •    Youth Development Fund Charity Fundraiser (Seattle, 2011)

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