Taylorsville City Attorney Tracy Cowdell keeping the classics alive with rock and roll cover band
Oct 14, 2019 11:26AM
By City Journals Staff
Taylorsville City Councilman Curt Cochran (purple jacket) and Councilwoman Meredith Harker (top hat) pose on either side of City Attorney Tracy Cowdell, surrounded by the other members of Cowdell’s classic rock cover band De Novo. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”
– Mick Jagger
Rebekah Cowdell claims her husband lives by that credo, which may not bode well for the Taylorsville criminals he prosecutes — but it seems to serve his alter ego perfectly.
That’s because Mick Jagger (or John Lennon, Axl Rose, Don Henley, Billy Joel — depending on the song he’s singing) IS Taylorsville City Attorney Tracy Cowdell’s alter ego.
“I’m not sure if it’s a midlife crisis; but if it is, it’s cheaper than a Corvette,” Tracy said, in explaining why he began taking guitar lessons two and a half years ago, why he formed a band and why he now hangs scarves from his microphone stand, ala Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.
“I really love all different types of music; but I had certainly never played in a band or sang for one,” said Tracy, a Sandy resident. “A couple of years ago I decided to take guitar lessons. One of the first things the instructor said was, ‘The best way to get better is to play in a band, for audiences.’ So, we played our first gig in July 2019 — after about four months of practice — and we haven’t looked back.”
But, Tracy added, he didn’t want to do this alone.
“It was Christmas 2016 when Tracy sent me an email, saying he had bought me a guitar and I was in a band with him,” Tracy’s law partner, Chad Woolley, said. “I had taken a few guitar lessons 25 years earlier. But all I really remember is my instructor asking me ‘Can’t you hear that?’ Apparently, my guitar was out of tune. So, yes, this was new.”
Now the legal minds behind Cowdell & Woolley, P.C. are founding members of the classic rock cover band De Novo, meaning “renewal” or “second chance.”
One blistering, 90-degree Saturday night last summer, Tracy, Woolley and their four band mates — including Woolley’s son, guitarist and keyboardist Jackson Woolley — marked the two-year anniversary of their first gig, by performing outside Taylorsville City Hall, to an audience dining on food truck cuisine and awaiting the free, on-the-lawn screening of “Mary Poppins Returns.”
De Novo is just the latest collaboration for Tracy and Chad, dating back more than 20 years.
“We attended BYU Law School together and co-founded a computer company during our college days,” Chad said. “We graduated in 2001, with our grade point averages just .0001 apart. We each started our own law firms; but by 2003 we were partners again.”
Both Tracy and Chad enjoy making their De Novo performances family events. Each had parents, children, siblings and others at the Taylorsville performance.
“My daughters and I try to come to most of Tracy’s shows, unless they are weddings or other private events,” Rebekah said. “Our entire marriage I have teased Tracy about thinking he is a rock star. When he got the idea to take guitar lessons, I knew he would enjoy it. Everything Tracy puts his mind to, he does well.”
For the record, Tracy is not “the” Taylorsville City attorney. Instead, his Cowdell & Woolley, P.C. law firm won the private contract bid to represent the city in legal matters about a decade ago.
Chad estimates the band has about $20,000 tied up in its 14 guitars, and another $60,000 to $70,000 in all of their other sound equipment and instruments. Since they do two or three paid performances each month, at $500 to $1,000 each, their wives and families aren’t complaining about them keeping their day jobs.
“I practice guitar every day at home and we rehearse in a little studio we created in a garage behind our law firm (near State Street and 7500 South), Tracy said. “We have not auditioned to perform at Taylorsville Dayzz yet. But we have performed the past couple of years at the Utah State Fair.”
On their official band website (www.denovo-band.com), the group offers to accept paid gigs throughout Utah and some surrounding states. But truth be told, so far, their “world tour” has been almost exclusively confined to Salt Lake and Utah counties.
For six generations Tracy’s family has lived in historic Sandy. And he’s known his wife, Rebekah, since they were each 8 years old. So, you might not initially expect the Taylorsville City attorney to be a big fan of change. But the former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stake president says he’s loved every minute of this change.
“We’re having so much fun playing music,” Tracy concluded. “If people want to learn something new, do it, don’t wait. We are having a ball.”
Perhaps only “overdoing” a little.