During her many years with the popular Fort Wayne band Sugar Shot, Jen Fisher had nursed a seed of inspiration in her head. While happy to continue with the country music band, Fisher was already imagining herself in a different configuration, one that would allow her to explore both an old musical form and a new contemporary twist. Knowing that Sugar Shot were set to fold at the end of 2017, she began putting her plan into action, a plan that led to Jen & the Foggy Creek Band.
"I knew I wanted to do something with bluegrass and the blues. I needed to find the right people to make it happen, and I knew my first need was a banjo player. I found John Warner who's not just a great banjo player but a great guy. Then I started adding in the other pieces. With Sugar Shot ending in December, I wanted to make this new band my full-time project and started getting gigs right away. So I kept adding people so that we could put together a full summer of concerts."
Now she performs with a full band that gives her plenty of musical power not only to play the bluegrass and Americana sound she heard in her head but to provide some unexpected elements as well. That band now includes John Foxworthy on drums and vocals, Jonah Leatherman on lead guitar, Tommy Myers on mandolin, accordion, saxophone, bass and vocals, Dave Nelson and Leland Nelson on bass, Colleen Phillips on fiddle and vocals and Celia Price on keyboards. When Leatherman isn't available, Steve Brady joins in on lead guitar. It's a big group, but it has fulfilled Fisher's long-held dreams for this band. And then some.
"Tommy Myers is a multi-instrumentalist and plays darn near every instrument God put on this earth. He was the bass player for Sugar Shot, but by bringing in Dave Nelson to play bass, it allows Tommy to fill in on all these other instruments so we can change up the sound as we go. Celia Price is on keys, and I wasn't initially planning on having keyboards, since I was thinking of a more traditional bluegrass sound, but the keys gives us bluegrass with a blues edge which has allowed us to create our own musical style."
Fisher is pleased with the sound of a band that has not only captured what she heard in her head but taken it to a different dimension.
"We're talking bluegrass and adding elements of rock and blues and giving it an edge I didn't expect initially. It's a style not quite like anything else I've heard or any other band out there. We started playing together last year, which was ahead of what I was planning, and then I started booking gigs and hitting all the goals I had for the first year. In 25 years of playing music, each band I've had comes closer and closer to what I've been envisioning and closer to the music that I wanted it to be like."
Since this band has been Fisher's dream for so long, it's been gratifying to her to have her fellow musicians and bandmates so quickly understand and adapt to her plan.
"It's really exciting when you're working with musicians who see the vision you have and help you develop it into what I wanted but also expand it beyond what my original vision was. We're really coming into our own space, and it's been a lot of fun. This project lets me do all the music I want to do and like to listen to."
For those wondering what exactly that music might be, Fisher says they have three different elements to their setlist: one-third is original music, one-third obscure Americana and one-third classic rock and contemporary pop - with a twist.
"We might do a song by Brandi Carlisle and then something by Mumford & Sons," says Fisher. "We also do a version of 'Uptown Funk' that has a cool blues feel, a really neat vibe. The keys give it the blues feel, and we fill in the background with bluegrass. We also do a cool version of 'Boys of Summer,' some Irish stuff and some old time country like Johnny Cash. The music is all over the place, but the roots vibe connects us as a band."
With upcoming gigs at Rock the Plaza on July 7, Fort Wayne Pride on July 28, Living Fort Wayne Concert Series on August 1 and Jefferson Pointe Friday Nights Live on August 3, Fisher is riding high with this band that has already made her happy in so many ways, bringing a new kind of music to an already diverse musical community.
"I just hope everybody likes it as much as we like playing it."