They've been called the Rolling Stones of country music, and really, that's no exaggeration. For 20 years, Sawyer Brown has set the pace and continues to go the distance with fresh, fun and relevant songs that challenge themselves as musicians while creating personal experiences for their listeners. And their live shows - over 3,000 (and counting!) - are legendary for the excitement, energy and emotion they generate. Herein lies the secret of the band's youthful longevity.
Vocalist Mark Miller, keyboardist Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard, lead guitarist Duncan Cameron, bassist Jim Scholten and drummer Joe Smyth mark this phenomenal two-decade milestone with the release of their 18th album, Can You Hear Me Now, in June. The albums title track is enjoying positive nods from radio nation wide.
"There's a great deal of diversity on this album," promises Hubbard, who says that Can You Hear Me Now took more than two years to record, owing to the band's maniacal touring schedule and personal priorities. "There are things that are just flat out fun like 'I Need A Girlfriend' - although when you're sittin' home alone on a Friday it's not so fun.
"And then there's 'Angels,' which, to me, is as beautiful a thing as Mark as ever written. We cover a lot of ground and that makes it a more interesting album. You listen to it and I hope you get a fuller picture of real people behind it, instead of 10 songs that are all the same thing."
While Sawyer Brown is a country music powerhouse, it's the "real people" that comprise the band, and each bring an individual, albeit thoroughly complementary perspective to the creative process.
In addition to breeding cattle, Miller, who subsists on a steady diet of basketball, coaches hoops for his daughter's, son's and a high school varsity team, and was a pro baller until just a year ago. Hubbard is a newly minted liberal arts graduate of Nashville's Belmont University with a whopping 4.0 grade point average. Smyth, a Maine native, is a Civil War historian who has made significant contributions as a preservationist. Cameron, who's as competent in the cockpit as he is agile with the six-string, is a former commercial airline pilot and now flies and works on his own plane. As for Scholten, in addition to playing chauffeur to his two teenagers, his inquisitive nature draws him to literature, films and people and, according to Hubbard, "You can drop Jim into a room full of strangers and he will find things to talk about with everybody and walk away happy."