Venture into any town in America, and you will likely come across several successful family businesses. Though their company isn't a brick and mortar one, the Flat River Band definitely qualifies as a family business.
Comprised of brothers Dennijo, Andy, and Chad Sitze, family has a huge role in the trio, says Chad. "We grew up in a family band, and have played together forever," he tells Billboard. "My granddad played the dobro, and my aunt played the upright bass. I played the banjo. Dennijo played the mandolin, and dad played guitar, mama sang, and Andy played the spoons. So, we've been doing that for twenty-something years. For the longest time, we played in a family band, and about six or seven years ago, mom and dad advised us to pursue the music on our own. It's been really fulfilling."
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Also fulfilling has been the reception that the Missouri band has received from fans and critics alike. Their latest disc, "High Roller," was given a ton of attention at various publications and websites all across the United States.
Chad admits that there is something about the unique sounds that are made when families get together and play music.
"I don't know, but it was always around," Sitze says. "We grew up just singing around the table, front porch, and back porch. I don't know why that is. I guess it's just the beauty of family bands You look all the way back to the Carter Family, and there was such a sense of enjoyment. These days, I don't think families hang out with each other like they once did. Nowadays, you've got the computer, and the kids have every game you can think of under the sun. In those days, gathering around the piano with a guitar, that was an enjoyment in going out to the front porch or the back porch. I think a lot of family band have taken that sense of enjoyment. We grew up a really close knit family, and that's where we get our enjoyment of being around another, I think that's where it stems from," he admitted.
"High Roller" is full of songs that feature the tight family harmonies and instrumental prowess of the band. "Casino Man" is a definite highlight. Of the track, Chad says "That song was inspired by me going to St. Louis to a casino. I had set aside 'x' amount of dollars to play, and my wife and I had gone up there. At that point, I had lost all of that money except a quarter, and I gave it to her. She won $350 on a slot machine. I think it's every guy's fantasy to walk out and break the bank. That's where that and 'High Roller' came from."
Could those references concerning gambling have anything to do with the crapshoot of the music business? "I guess, for sure," Chad smiles. "I don't know where to get started on that. I've got some friends that have lived here in Nashville for twenty years or so, and they are scratching their heads trying to figure it out. It has changed so drastically over the past five years as a whole.
The boys have several live dates already on the books for this year, in addition to a live recording on Tennessee's Monteagle Mountain. What are some of the band's goals for 2012? Chad says it's all about one day at a time. "I would like to do two or three recordings. We've got so much material, that it seems there's not enough time to get into the studio and record some stuff. Especially with where the industry is in this day and age, I realize it takes a lot of money to keep the wheels spinning. I just look forward to the next gig. That might sound like it's not a big goal, but I just live one day at a time. We've got a song called "Never Mind Tomorrow" that we are trying to work up right now."
Chad says that's their personal and professional philosophy. "That's just where we are. We're just living for today. Sure, our ultimate goal is to change the world with our music, but at the same time, but if you get caught up in that - the whole business side of the music - you can lose sight of things. We just take it one day at a time, one song at a time…That's how we live our lives."
Look for a new video from the Flat River Band this spring. Titled "Shine Down Above Me," the clip was directed by Music City's Marc Nicolosi in Grove, OK.