“Settlers Creek Band draws a line in the dirt to forge a new path to success”
“This life takes you down so many roads, and you never know where each one is gonna go.” – Wanna Go, track 4.
It’s Saturday night, June 4th. The air is thick with humidity, but a breeze blows in the back door of the Erin Agricultural Centre, sending a wave of anticipation through the large crowd assembled inside, waiting for the show to begin. It feels more like a family gathering than a CD release party, a real community atmosphere. No one feels it more than the musicians who are about to take the stage. This is it, the first step in a journey that, despite more than ten years in the making, is now truly the beginning of what everyone here hopes will be the road to success. This night changes everything and they know it.
Leading singer and guitarist Lucas Rogerson takes to the microphone and with humble appreciation for the support of the people in the room, he introduces the debut live performance of the band’s new album, a collection of eight songs, all written and arranged by the members of the Settlers Creek Band; brothers Greg and Chris Eisen, Sean Bruder, Bryce Butcher, and Rogerson. Until now they have been one of the most popular cover bands from this area, playing tribute to their songwriting idols like Blue Rodeo, The Band, Garth Brooks, John Cougar Mellencamp and a host of other acts. But this night is about presenting an original sound, all their own. To do that, the boys had to decide to draw a line between where they have been in their musical career and where they want to go. Hence the name of their first album, “Line in the Dirt.”
“We were always imitating, when we played covers,” explains Rogerson. “We wanted our own identity.”
Bass player Greg Eisen agrees. “We wanted to show our fans what we could do.”
Bruder, the band’s drummer explains, “Playing cover songs limited where we could go as a band. We eventually want to take our careers into full time music.”
Taking that first step, the Settlers Creek Band went into the recording studio in late October with a handful of original songs, and laid down the tracks for this record, a process that took a period of five months. It was journey and a true test of the band’s determination.
“We never realized how different our music tastes were until we started the process of writing and making the CD,” explains Rogerson. “We agree on a lot of music, but we have very different tastes too. So we had to learn how to write and play together all over again.”
That’s saying something, given that these guys have known each other for over fifteen years, eleven of those years as band mates. The group got started when Butcher, from Erin, met Rogerson, from Elora, at a music camp for the performing arts. They started jamming, and Bruder, a Guelph native, joined in, followed later by the Eisen brothers, of Fergus.
“This is longest relationship any of us have ever had,” jokes Chris. So naturally, the creative process tested their bonds, and in doing so, made them stronger.
He admits that having the band write their own music was the best part of the process, but also the biggest challenge. “You get a riff in your head or a chorus, and you can hear it that way, but then you present it to the band and they hear something completely different,” he explains. “You have to learn to be open to some change and also when to hold on.”
Butcher explains that the process was made more difficult because music is their part-time career. All the band mates have full-time jobs, with the exception of Rogerson who has recently taken the ultimate gamble to leave work to promote the band full-time. The balance of work, family and recording over a five month period made for long days and longer nights.
Like old friends, they knew how to remedy the situation. “We took a break from each other and then we started to hang out again, without talking about the music. We reconnected,” says Chris. “ The mixing sessions after that was the cohesiveness; when it all came together.”
“It was a trying time, with some frustration and tension, “ says Rogerson. Everyone laughs at this remark. “But then we got our own sound out of it.”
Settlers Creek Band learned the lesson of their musical heroes before them, that the creative process is just that, a process, and an evolution of the band’s growth. “It will be better the next time,” smiles Rogerson, who credits the support of producer Sean Gugula for keeping them on track. “This was a total learning process, every step of the way. In the end, we learned to work together in the studio.”
The evidence is in the music.
“A Line in the Dirt” accomplishes everything the band hoped for, a radio-ready sound of their own, with respect to the influences that got them here, and an independent spirit too. It’s a little bit of rock, blues and a whole lot of country, or as Bruder puts it, “It’s who we are.”
From the gritty first track, “Down by the Creek,” to the sing-a-long melody of “Somebody’s Nobody,” to the more somber “I Guess This is Good-bye,” and the good ole boy fun of “Down in Mexico,” or “One Long Night,” audiences will find something in this album to connect too. Lyrically contagious, “Greener on the Country Side” and “This Town,” are songs that speak of how these boys feel connected to their home in Wellington County. But it’s the track “Wanna Go,” (featuring local fiddler Scott Woods), that seems to reassure listeners that this band will always be “our band.”
“We want to be able to play this album and keep the sound of each song true when we play it live,” says Rogerson, so that the transition from cover songs to originals is a smooth sound in every live show.
“We wanted to change our live show. We want to be able to be personal with our audience, to tell the stories of our songs,” says Butcher. And these boys love to perform live.
“There is nothing like playing live,” says Greg. “It’s like being in this tornado of sound, there is nothing like it.” Bruder agrees, “As a drummer, there is point in the show where the energy of the crowd is so alive, you’re almost high from it.” Rogerson chimes in, “It’s when a song is so perfect, it’s surreal.”
With a solid following of loyal fans, not just here at home but beyond county lines, their live shows have proven to audiences that this band has talent. The band is loyal to their fans too, which is why this transition to original music is a leap of faith.
“Our fans are awesome. They’ve been with us since day one right up until now and they’ve watched the transition,” says Butcher.
“We are basically starting over again, so we’re staying true to the people who have got us here,” says Greg. That includes the incredible support of the band’s families who make the sacrifices alongside them, something none of these guys take for granted.
So was it a risk worth taking? In less than a month since the release of their debut album, Settlers Creek Band’s Crop Tour has just been added to the bill of the highly anticipated Saugeen Summer Nights, sharing the stage on June 18th with Johnny Reid, Dierks Bentley, and Dean Brody, to name a few. Not bad for a little band who have just found their unique sound. Local audiences can see them at the Fergus Truck Show on July 22nd.
These five friends are one cohesive musical unit, a band that intuitively knows one another, trusts each other and expects the other guys to tow the line, and they always do. They have been a bar band long enough to appreciate late nights and the one-van tour bus, but they have big dreams and the foundation to make their future happen. And you get the sense that their humble beginnings will keep their music and their attitude rooted here, at home. It is that focus that helped them work through the stresses of a collaborative process, and it is that sense of brotherhood that will get them to the next level, on their own terms.
Editor note:To buy the album, go to www.settlerscreekband.com.
*published by The Wellington Advertiser
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.