“There were five of us thinking that we can
This is the life and times of a travelin’ band…”
Those words end the first verse of the title track to Sawyer Brown’s new CD Travelin’ Band. The life and times of a traveling band—if ever there were a band who is well qualified to paint a picture of what it means to be a travelin’ band, it’s Sawyer Brown. Founded in 1981, the band celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, having played more than 4000 shows over the course of those years, logging mileage well into the seven figures. And as the band clearly shows in its new CD, the wheels are still turning and an ever-open road stretches out ahead.
“We are just who we are—period,” says lead singer Mark Miller when asked for some of the secrets to the band’s longevity. “From the beginning, we didn’t want to sell ourselves as something we weren’t. We’re blue collar, working class guys from the neighborhood who just happen to get up on stage at night and make music.” He then adds with a laugh, “OK, guys from the neighborhood who made some questionable clothing choices in the 80s—but it was the 80s, after all.”
From the looks of the band’s three-decade and still going career, they seem to be guys from everybody’s neighborhood. Keyboard player Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard adds, “It’s always humbling when someone comes up after a show and tells us that they hear themselves or their family in our music. I hope that they can look up there on stage and see themselves—because we can sure look out at them and see ourselves. Every day we’re on the road, one of the best parts of the day is walking around whatever town we’re playing in and just soaking it in—listening to folks talking in restaurants, just watching life unfold like it always does—one story at a time.”
One story at a time—that is certainly the way that the life and times of this travelin’ band unfolds. “What we try to do—what we’ve always tried to do, I think—is capture those moments that matter, and capture them in a song,” Miller says. “It seems to me that it’s really the small moments in life that are the big ones, anyway.” And capture those moments the band has. From the tentative moments of transition that underscore Miller’s evocative ballad “The Walk” to the moment that a guy realizes he just might have found the right girl in the band’s energetic signature song “Some Girls Do,” the band consistently manages to bring to life those moments that all to often slip by unnoticed—unnoticed, that is, until a song sings our life back to us.
Sawyer Brown has been singing our life back to us now over the course of twenty-three albums, and the Miller-produced Travelin’ Band continues that rich tradition. The band has never been satisfied to concentrate only on the two or three songs that might become radio singles; they view an album as offering a more complete picture than that. “We have always wanted there to be a reason for someone to buy and to listen to the entire album,” Miller says. “Maybe on any given day, you’re drawn to the up-tempo stuff—but maybe the very next day, it’s one of the ballads that hits home. I know it’s like that for me as a music listener.” Hubbard adds, “That’s one of the great things about music—the connection it makes. And the fact that different songs forge different connections for me when I listen to music keeps me believing—keeps us believing—that every song matters.”