Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Pleasing Melani


R. Mike Horan

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 9, 2006

Heads Up! This article is 16 years old.

The Brown Bottle Band, third runners-up in the

whatzup Battle Of The Bands on August

19th, are pretty much perennial favorites at

Columbia Street West, and from the initial crowd

response, a good portion of the audience during

the final show of the competition thought the

guys had it in the bag. Well, that obviously

wasn’t the case, but it didn’t deter them in any

way from the forward momentum they’ve established

over the last couple of years.

Brown Bottle Band had competed in the last

preliminary round on July 22nd against Teay’s

Vein, Tenfold Back and Unfinished Business. They

tied Tenfold Back for first place in that round

and then won the second semifinal round August

12.

The band – Dan Smith, guitar and vocals; Damian

Miller, bass and vocals; Rooster, guitar and

vocals; and Rick Weilbaker, drums – was given the

name Brown Bottle Band by people who used to see

them perform acoustically on street corners.

Bassist Miller also adds a little history to the

name. “In the 1920s,” he said, “house bands were

sometimes called brown bottle bands.”

Some will remember a previous incarnation they

had as Soul Kitchen while they were still in high

school. In 2003, the band put together a concert

known as Soulstock. They have also participated

in each of the RRevolution Concert Series’

tribute shows – for The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The

Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana –

and they’ve managed to blow down the house each

and every time.

While they’ve been known as a 1970s-style rock

band, their influences come from sources as

diverse as The Eagles to Hendrix,and Stevie Ray

Vaughan. This is not to say that Brown Bottle

Band wish to remain a well known, and highly

entertaining, cover band forever. They are

planning their first album project and are in the

process of finishing the music for it.

“Our album project is basically good rock n’

roll,” said Miller. “It’ll sound like Kiss,

AC/DC, really driving rock – something you might

call blue-collar rock.”

“When we get it done,” added Weilbaker, “we plan

on doing everything we can to promote it. We

want to work it from all aspects.”

“When we do get it done,” said Miller, “we’re

going to have one hell of a release party. We

know a lot of people, and we’ll invite other

bands and DJs and just make a big party out of

it. We hope to get it on radio and in the

stores. We also have an advertising budget put

together.”

Even though they didn’t place in either of the

top two slots in the Battle Of The Bands,

according to guitarist Smith, they’re pleased

with having been a part of it. “Doing it was

good,” he said. “It brought us into … other

people seeing us. There were all sorts of genres

of bands who did this. I think all of the other

bands are going to say they got more fans from

doing the competition. It helped get our name out

there, and people are going to recognize us

now.”

Most of Brown Bottle Band’s fan base is in Fort

Wayne, but they also give a lot of credit to fans

from what they call “up north” – Kendallville and

beyond – for being with them. They even tell of

a very quick pickup gig they played in Nashville,

Tennessee that was booked at the last minute.

“Some of our fans came with us for that one,”

said Miller. “Our fans are the coolest. They

love to party and they love to see us play.

They’re hard-core to come out on a Wednesday

night just to see us.”

The subject of the music scene in Fort Wayne is

something the guys also show appreciation for, as

well as some strong opinions. “It’s been good for

us,” said Miller. “There’s a lot of neat things

starting to happen.”

“It is fairly diverse, which is good,” adds

Rooster. “There’s new stuff happening all the

time.”

“Most clubs still want cover bands,” said Smith,

“but there are other places like Columbia Street

that support original music. But the prime spot

is always going to be for the cover bands.”

“I think a lot of places are opening up for live

cover bands, though,” said Miller. “The whole

DJ/karaoke thing is almost more expensive than

hiring a live three-piece or four-piece band. So

they’re willing to give it a shot. The audience

has always known where the live music is in this

town, but I don’t think that live music

necessarily determines what a person is going to

do that night, not for the average person.”

“I sort of agree with that,” said Rooster. “I

don’t think the average person will go to a punk

show and then a rock show next week. There are a

lot of different cliques – the punk people, the

rock people…”

“We played here (Columbia Street) one of the

last Thursdays,” said Smith. “We played a lot of

country songs … it was for a separate deal. We

had a good time, and some people really liked it,

but I noticed that some people left because it

was country. I really don’t think that the

average Fort Wayne bar patron is all that

diverse. I wish it were different.”

Having been a part of the local scene, though,

has also given Brown Bottle Band some insight

into what it takes beyond just good music in

order to be appreciated and keep working.

“Make friends and don’t get a big head,

especially with this Fort Wayne music scene,”

said Weilbaker, by way of advice. “Everyone needs

to get along with each other. There are small

factions that like to complain about things, but

make friends and get along with other people. It

helps.”

“We get along with about everybody,” said

Miller. “That’s helped us more than anything.

And we like these people. We’re not using

anybody. They help us, and we try to help them –

things like trading shows and all that. And as

far as the money goes, don’t ever do it just for

the money. We try to have fun with it.”

“You should always try to put on a show for the

people,” added Rooster. “If you’re going to just

stand up there and play, why not have them put on

your CD instead? Put on a show for the people or

it’s boring. It’s just not fun for the average

person to come and just watch guys stand

around.”

“I would suggest, too,” added Miller, “to keep

the ‘down time’ to a minimum. You want to keep

people on the dance floor. Don’t stand around on

stage and wonder what song you’re gong to do.

It’s just awkward for the fans. If you’re putting

on a show, people are going to dance; if not,

they’re just standing around.”

In closing, the Brown Bottle Band would like to

say they “… really love the ladies …,” but

there’s more to their gratitude than just one

gender-biased form of fan appreciation. And they

definitely want their fans to know what they’re

going to see at a show.

“There’s nothing wrong with ‘butt rock’,” said

Rooster. “I mean, we live in Indiana. Embrace

it, people. It’s sweet, undeniably sweet.”

Judging by crowd reaction at any given Brown

Bottle Band show, and their upbeat attitude,

these guys are going to be churning out some

great live butt rock for a long time. Not bad for

a bunch of former street

musicians.

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