November 9, 2006
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
Lee Brice and more!