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Bluegrass, jazz and ‘new grass’

Smokey’s Farmland Band to perform in Dahlonega

POSTED: February 10, 2011 12:30 a.m.
/For Get Out

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Smokey's Farmland Band may have gotten its name from jamming out on Smokey Caldwell's 200-acre farm in LaFayette, but once their name spread, they went from playing front porches to opening for Willie Nelson.

The band was formed in 2004, but not until 2008 was complete. Their first CD, "80 Mile Getaway," came out last April. You can hear them Friday at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega.

"We love bluegrass, but we are by no means just a bluegrass band," said Rurik Nunan, fiddle player. "Our writing style shows many diverse influences ranging from ‘newgrass' and gypsy jazz, to Cajun and western swing."

Smokey's Farmland Band has a dynamic set list, from covers to original songs.

"Lots of the covers we choose come from styles outside of bluegrass and we like to maintain some of their original style, but we add our own touch and bring in bluegrass elements," Nunan said.

Being in a band seems like a dream come true, but it's not all the glitz and glamour it is made out to be in movies.

"Most of the stage time is glamorous, but there is so much more to music than just the short amount of time you are on stage," said Trey Gibbs, vocals and mandolin player.

"There is a ton of nonglamorous, behind-the-scenes work that we all take part in, like maintaining our website, merchandising and publicity."

Though a performer's job is not perfect, there is something that makes it worthwhile.

"I can't imagine doing anything else," said Justin Roberts, on vocals and upright bass. "I'm so grateful to have music in my life. It's tough to get it to work financially, but I've found it hard to put a price on happiness. Playing music makes me happy."

What's the best part about being in a band? According to Roberts, it's the gratification.

"I love making music and seeing people dig it," he said. "It's such a great feeling inside to see people enjoy what you're doing on stage. Musicians owe it all to the fans."

Making music is one thing, agreeing on the details is another. According to Roberts, one of the hardest things about being in a band is getting five guys to come to one agreement.

Though the five members of Smokey's Farmland Band may not agree on everything, they come together to bring vibrant, cohesive tunes to their fans.

"You can't make good music with people that you don't appreciate on a deep level," Gibbs said. "Conflict is natural and happens in all groups. We all have an opinion on what is best for the success of the band, and keeping the group goal helps to clear the air when individual needs arise."

Another difficulty of being a full-time performer is having enough money to support the passion.

"I think the hardest part of being in a band is making enough money to transition music into your livelihood. There are many opportunities to play music because you love to, but we still keep day jobs to support our love of music," Gibbs said.

Putting struggles and successes aside, Smokey's Farmland Band came together to play music. That's exactly what they plan to do Friday at their Dahlonega show.

"This is showbiz and there is no show without the business," Gibbs said. "We appreciate our fans who come to hear us play - we cannot attain the higher levels of music without people taking an interest and making the effort to attend our performances."

Though their favorite memory was opening for Willie Nelson at the House of Blues in New Orleans, Smokey's Farmland Band is here for its fans and plans to deliver a great show.

"One of the greatest satisfactions we have is watching a crowd really enjoy what we're doing as a group," said Nunan. "We're all fans just like they are. I still get jittery sometimes when I'm able to meet or play with fellow musicians that I had previously only known as a fan — we love our fans for supporting us."



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