For a group of guys that seem terribly laid back, there’s a whole lot going on with Sarnia’s Down River Band.
And, apart from a few of their tunes, there’s nothing laid back about it.
The Down River Band is releasing its first EP as well as competing in a high stakes Toronto contest called The Bout. And the Down River boys have their first Sarnia gig of the year.
“The band is doing great,” says guitar player Kurt Brown who collaborates with singer Valley Gilhuly on most of DRB’s original songs. “We just want to keep on writing music that people want to hear.”
Brown and Gilhuly formed the band four years ago and, while the other two members have switched up over time, DRB consistently plays 12 – 15 gigs a year.
In the summer, there’s barely a weekend they aren’t playing a wedding, a stag and doe, a bar or an outdoor bash.
“I think it’s the fact we have a classic sound and like a lot of the older rock,” said Brown. “We’re a bit unusual because we are younger guys playing music that has an older sound.”
Travis Bernard on bass and Connor Elnicki on drums round out the band. Together they began recording in a Windsor studio last June and have just released a first album “Smooth Sailing.”
It’s been available since March 3 for download on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Google Play Music. On May 19, the band is holding a release party for Smooth Sailing at the Trinity Lounge in downtown Sarnia.
“We’ve written our own songs since we got together,” said Brown. “It’s a mix of funk, classic and modern rock.
When they got into the studio, Bernard and Elnicki made their own contributions to the music and the songs changed during recording.
“We found it took a lot of time and a lot of money,” said Brown. “We’re really glad to see it released.”
The band won a vote of confidence recently when DRB was selected as one of 12 finalists in The Bout, a competition at The Hideout in Toronto. If they make it into the top six bands, they’ll be off to The Hideout to play the finals on May 5.
Local audiences will have a chance to hear the DRB at The Beer Show on Friday, May 4.
This is the sixth year for The Beer Show, which features a dozen craft breweries and tons of live music at the Bayside Centre.
Doors open 5 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 each day or $25 for a VIP weekend pass.
The Beer Show coincides with May’s First Friday and crowds are expected to pack the downtown core, especially if the weather is good.
The DRB will be joined at The Beer Show by a live DJ, The Fat Catz, Funktion 5 and Lit’l Chicago.