Six Mile Grove releases new track ahead of album release at Castle Community’s inaugural event.
Six Mile Grove will be releasing their new album “Million Birds” on November 24th at Castle Community’s inaugural concert. This all-ages event will also include special guests Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts. My Town My Music had the opportunity to sit down with front man Brandon Sampson to talk about about the new album, and Brandon even shared with us an exclusive new track “Wage a War”. Give it a listen below.
In this album, the band contemplates the humble human challenges of work, family, life, and love—when to take risks, when to play it safe, when to fight, and when to surrender.
MTMM: What does it mean to you to play the first ever music event at Castle Community?
A: We’re honored. We love the concept that the Castle Community is bringing to Downtown Rochester, and we are excited to be a part of it. It is always so rewarding to be in a creative space where people are brave enough to share new ideas and take risks, where art can come to life. I know how hard it is to make things happen in this town, and if anyone can do it, the folks involved in the Castle Community can, because they understand the scale and the market. Besides the fact that people in Rochester love the next new thing, so here it is!
MTMM: You’ve been performing and recording for 20 years now, and this is your seventh studio album. What would you say has aided in Six Mile Grove’s longevity?
A: We received some very tender, honest, and encouraging advice when we were recording our first album in 1998 from our producer Lou Whitney in Springfield, MO. We were feeling the pressure of certain expectations we felt we needed to accomplish by the time we reached a certain age. We were comparing ourselves to other bands and their journey.
Lou pulled us all aside and said, “You guys have a great chemistry together. You’re writing songs, you’re playing gigs, people are buying your music…Congratulations, you’re in the music business. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it happen, and once it happens, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it stop. The only thing you can control is how much effort you put into your craft. How much commitment you have on sticking together and writing the very best songs that you can. Keep your eye on the prize and write songs that you are excited about playing and the rest will take care of itself.”
That advice has carried us through 20 years. We removed the pressure of “having” to do anything creatively, with purely “wanting” to make music together. We all have day jobs we love, which removes the pressure from the creative process of writing songs, in fact it fuels it. We’ve made a commitment to one another to make music together a priority. And as it currently stands, we are making the best version of Americana music that we can, we’ve created space in our lives to be creative and we are truly having fun doing it.
MTMM: Name one person who has been crucial to who you are as a musician/performer today:
A: In the early 2000s the band was living in Minneapolis together in a house. We were playing 3-4 nights a week at every bar, club, and polka room we could book and we were getting burnt out. We decided to take a step back and just focus on our craft of songwriting.
During those months we met Bob Wootton, Johnny Cash’s guitar player of 30 years. He took us under his wing and we became his opening band, playing our original tunes, and his backing band, playing classic Johnny Cash. He took us on the road to beautiful theatres and listening rooms all across the country. He rescued us from the local bar scene and introduced us and our music to sold-out theatres filled with people who wanted to listen to what we had to say. It had a tremendous effect on us in several ways. Standing on stage as the backing band for the “Man Behind The Man in Black” let us see how a true showman like Bob Wootton broke down the barrier between the performers from the first strum of his guitar. Bob taught us how to craft a set list that takes the audience on a journey and keeps their attention through different tempos and moods. He taught us the importance of giving space for each instrument and band member to shine. He taught us that less is more when it comes to arranging a song. And he re-affirmed to us that we had something special that deserved to be heard.
MTMM: What has been your favorite performance experience?
A: Last year, our good friends the Gear Daddies invited us to open for them at First Avenue in Minneapolis. It was our first performance in the Main Room to a sold out crowd. We felt like rock stars from the moment we pulled into the bus garage back stage to the moment we packed our gear up at the end of the night. The support from all the staff at First Avenue is top notch! They allowed us as a band to focus on the music. We played one of the best sets of our career and the crowd was digging it.
MTMM: What do you see as the strengths of the Rochester music scene?
A: It’s been so fun to see how the Rochester music scene has evolved, especially over the past 10 years. The audience is refined. They have good taste and when introduced to quality music, they will listen. The efforts of many in the community to bring relevant bands to Rochester has greatly impacted the scene. And the willingness of venues like the Civic Theatre, The Art Center, and now The Castle to host musicians will only strengthen the scene and shift the focus onto the music, presented in a listening and “music first” environment.
MTMM: What aspects of the local scene do you feel could use improvement/growth/more attention?
A: Resilience. Awareness. Both on the artists’ and audience’s part. Rochester is filled with busy people, living busy lives, doing important things. And Rochester is truly filled with very good people, people who care, people who want to support the community, and people who need an escape from time to time. Music can offer that escape. Awareness of the music scene, consistent quality, relevant bands/musicians realizing that Rochester should be a stop on their tour route, and a willingness of concert goers to support the efforts of the many people working to build the scene will naturally grow and flourish with time.
MTMM: What can we expect from Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts when they get the show started on the 24th?
A: We’ve known Miles and his band for several years, and we continue to admire their work. From the first time we invited them to perform at the Americana Showcase at the Civic Theatre, we were blown away with their musicianship. These guys will kill it. The band is really talented—great songs, great players and they will bring an energy to the room that will set the tone for the entire night.
Thank you to Brandon for taking some time to answer our questions. We hope you enjoy the “Wage A War” track, and we hope to see you at the inaugural concert at Castle Community this Saturday, November 24th at 7PM!