By: Laura Insley
It might sound hard to believe, but Orange County has always had a stronghold in the world of country music. Even in the land of punk rock, ska, and reggae, several of our local bars are hosting Country Nights and clubs are teaching people how to line dance. And these days, new country bands are popping up everywhere as well. One such outfit is Front Porch Rodeo, a talented group of musicians currently making its way around the circuit with high energy sets and Top 40 Country Hits. You can find them rockin' out places like The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen in Fullerton and On The Rocks in Garden Grove. After a couple years together, FPR's got this 'Country Band in OC' thing down, and they want to give the aspiring Lady Antebellums and The Band Perrys some advice for the long, hard road they're about to embark on. Courtesy of Brendan Flannery, Jordan Roepke, Kyle Matthews, and Jeremy Devore of Front Porch Rodeo, here are five survival tips for an OC country band.
Music aside, what comes to mind when you think of a country band? Exactly. Cowboy hats and cowboy boots. And probably some denim. Okay, fine. All the denim. "I think there's definitely some pressure to be a little more country than country, especially being a band from Southern California," says FPR drummer, Jeremy Devore. "I've seen other bands really lay it on pretty thick, but mostly it's about the boots."
Both Devore and FPR guitarist/vocalist, Jordan Roepke agree that the TRAFFIC is the worst part about being a country band from OC. In order to get to shows at country hotspots in other places, The Brandin' Iron in San Bernardino and Water Wheel Saloon out in Norco (or anywhere else in the Inland Empire), you're forced to encounter some of the worst freeway traffic in Southern California. Allow yourself plenty of time; no one likes getting stuck in cow country during rush hour.
3. Be Prepared For a Challenge.
"[Country's] not the easiest tunes to master and play," says Devore. "[It] may sound simple, but there's plenty of curveballs to keep you on your toes." FPR bassist, Kyle Matthews, adds, "Composition can be a challenge because most country songs have instrumentation that is not available as a four- to six-piece band. Country music takes a certain level of musicianship to pull off well. Be prepared to challenge yourself technically, sonically, and physically."
4. Lower Your Expectations
"Be prepared to get paid a lot less than you think," warns Devore. Just because country music is popular right now doesn't mean venues are going to be throwing mounds of cash at you to play. No offense, but you're not Florida Georgia Line… yet.
5. But Seriously…Just Be Yourself
"In the words of Brantley Gilbert and many before him, 'It's not WHERE you live, it's HOW you live,'' says FPR guitarist/vocalist, Brendan Flannery. "Country is not about living on a farm or in a field, it's a lifestyle and mindset. Stay true to yourself and that's the most "country" thing you can do. Play the songs you want to play and be the band you want to be."
For upcoming shows and more information on Front Porch Rodeo, check out their Facebook page.