Some bands do
“An Evening with Sawyer Brown” is the next offering at The Ritz Theatre with a 7:30 p.m. concert March 7. The band was honored six consecutive years (1993-98) as vocal band of the year by the Music City News Country Music Awards. On the country charts, they had three No. 1 hits: “Step That Step,” “Thank God for You” and the band’s anthem, “Some Girls Do.”
Over its 33 years of performing, Nashville-based Sawyer Brown has released 16 studio albums, released more than 50 singles and toured worldwide performing pop-country music. Mark Miller, Joe Smyth, Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard and Jim Scholten are the band’s core members, joined in 2004 by Shayne Hill.
An Ohio native, lead singer Miller moved to Florida as a teen. There, he enjoyed the beach and worked at Walt Disney World. While enrolled at the University of Central Florida, he started writing music. Miller has composed many of Sawyer Brown’s hits, including the three mentioned above, “The Walk” and “The Boys and Me.”
“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I began writing songs and thinking about a career as a singer. Both of my kids are musical, but neither one of them is interested in a career in music,” he said.
In the studio, Miller has produced all the CDs for Casting Crowns, one of which won a Grammy. Also, a movie he wrote and produced, “Ring the Bell,” was released last year. A few others are in the works.
Drummer Joe Smyth graduated from Berklee College of Music and completed his master’s degree in music. In addition to playing sessions for various groups in the studio, Smyth teaches percussion and has played with the Nashville Symphony.
“I started playing drums in elementary school – and have never stopped. I played throughout school, all the way to getting my master’s degree at the University of Miami. Both of my children love music, but don’t play on any regular basis,” Smyth said.
Hubbard is a Florida native who grew up listening to music. He sang and played piano in church during his high school years. In college, he started writing music.
“A lot of performers have inspired me – from the Beach Boys to the Beatles, from the Eagles to U2. I always read the credits of records I bought – who was playing on the records and who wrote the songs. I thought it was so cool if a performer wrote the songs that he/she sang – and I still think that,” Hubbard said.
He is the co-writer of “The Dirt Road,” “Drive Me Wild,” “‘Round Here” and “Outskirts of Town.” Hubbard also has contributed background vocals for recordings by various artists.
The bio for bass player Scholten states his mom was a music teacher, so he started playing at an early age. He played in numerous bands in his home state of Michigan before relocating to Nashville. A studio musician, he also plays in the praise band at his church when he is not on the road. Scholten has two children.
“Both of my kids are musical – my son plays the drums and my daughter plays violin; in fact, she gives violin lessons,” he said. “As for new projects for the band, we’ve recorded a couple of songs that could be the beginning of the next full CD. We’re almost always working on music.”
As the most recent addition, Hill has brought his multi-instrument talent to Sawyer Brown. His training came from touring with a family band. In Nashville, he toured with artists such as LeAnn Rimes, Chely Wright and Avalon.
“The first instrument I learned to play was the guitar when I was a teenager. My family had a band and we were always playing music – and I’ve really never stopped playing music,” Hill said.
Now married with two children, he has his own recording studio. Hill often provides background vocals and guitar on recordings for other artists.