Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

July 2, 2013

Sawyer Brown: Thirty years on the road to Wild Adventures

VALDOSTA — Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since country band Sawyer Brown made its first splash on syndicated TV. Thirty years, since the band rose to fame and kept playing with hits like “The Walk,” “Step That Step,” “Some Girls Do,” “Thank God For You.”

If you find it hard to believe, Sawyer Brown keyboardist Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard can’t believe it’s been 30 years either. The Times spoke with Hubbard recently in an interview for the band’s upcoming July 6 show at Wild Adventures.

“This October, it will be 30 years since ‘Star Search,’” Hubbard says. “We started on that show. There are moments that feels like yesterday, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what I did yesterday.”

“Star Search” was a 1980s TV show. It was the precursor to shows like “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and any number of reality contest shows which bring unknown talent to a greater public audience. Instead of being on a network, “Star Search” was a syndicated show, meaning local television stations played the shows often on weekend afternoons or evenings, or sometime before or after prime time during the week.

For a young band like Sawyer Brown, “Star Search” was an opportunity to produce a music video. Hubbard says the band never expected anything else from the show.

“We saw the pilot episode and we knew there was no way they were going to pick us,” Hubbard says. “They filmed a video for the show and we wanted to get a video.”

Band members were unprepared, but thrilled, when Sawyer Brown became one of the show’s favorites. Eventually, Sawyer Brown won the top prize of $100,000 and a record contract.

“We were so green. We were like the Clampetts rolling into town,” Hubbard says referring to the rags-to-riches family in “The Beverly Hillbillies.” “... We had no idea the show would drop us into a couple million living rooms each week.”

During the show’s run, Sawyer Brown went from playing gigs where no one knew them to arriving to larger audiences of people cheering individual band members by name.

Then, the band was always on the road.

They had no idea of “Star Search’s” reach even while performing and competing on the show. “Star Search” played everywhere, and it played different days in different towns.

For a bunch of guys growing up in working-class households, the jump to stardom required adjustments. Hubbard mentions the difficulty of receiving so much applause for playing music while knowing his parents had taught children in public schools for decades.

“I would think, why aren’t people standing around clapping for them as they walk to their cars each morning,” Hubbard says.

Given this attitude, Hubbard has always realized that making music for a living and the success of Sawyer Brown are blessings.

“Oh, it’s a giant blessing to make music,” he says. “Even better if a song can make that connection with someone’s life. ... If that’s what we’ve done for some people out there, it’s a really humbling thing to know ...”

Still, 30 years into fame, the band remains busy but Sawyer Brown has also slowed. Years ago, the band spent about 275 days per year on the road performing. Now, Sawyer Brown performs about 100 dates each year.

With only one membership change in the past 30 years, Hubbard says the band is in good shape for playing and traveling.

“It’s a different sort of work environment,” he says of life in a band. “At the end of the day, you don’t get away from the people you work with. You climb aboard that 30-foot, metal tube and ride onto the next town. (laughs) So, fortunately, we all get along.”

 

Country band Sawyer Brown plays

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 6.

Where: Wild Adventures Theme Park, Old Clyattville Road.

Admission: Concert is included in the price of park admission and with season passes. Reserved seating available for an additional $15.

More information: Visit wildadventures.com; or call (229) 219-7080.

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