You may have heard of “Bourbon Country,” a Louisville-based country group that has suddenly become a pretty hot commodity. In the last two months alone, they’ve been booked at a host of venues in Louisville and in other parts of Kentucky, played for a number of charity events, and even got a special invitation to do a show at the Eddie Montgomery Steakhouse. Not bad for a group of guys, all with full-time jobs, who just started playing together nine months ago.
Drummer and founder Bo Elmore says all are seasoned musicians, some of whom have played previously with other bands. But they all seemed to have bonded quickly and found their niche with Bourbon Country. He believes it may have something to do with the group’s overall approach and the fact that they’re all of the same mindset.
“We are doing it for the love of music, not the money,” he says. “We aren’t starving musicians. We are all full-time family guys with careers who enjoy stomping boots on the weekends.”
They’ve definitely been doing a lot of stomping. Their calendar shows a number of recent shows in places like Bowling Green and Lebanon Junction, and this Friday night they’ll perform at Khalil’s Grill in Louisville. Most notably, however, they’ve been accepting quite a few requests to play at charity events like one on the Waterfront in September, a walk to raise money for Hydrocephalus. It’s a disease in which fluid accumulates on the brain and the victims are typically children.
“We just like to do stuff for people who are struggling,” says Elmore. “We do a lot of cancer benefits, you know if your house burned down or you’re struggling medically. We take off work if we have to, to play them. We’ve passed up paying gigs for those types of events.”
Their heavy schedule has been helpful in promoting their name and opened some exciting new doors. They were recently invited to perform at the Eddie Montgomery Steakhouse in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, a steakhouse built by and named for the man who makes up half of country music duo Montgomery Gentry. (The steakhouse is about 70 miles from Louisville, south of Frankfort.)
EM Steakhouse Entertainment Director Amy Bryant says Bourbon Country’s appearance on October 18th, on a weeknight with three other acts, was an audition of sorts.
“We have people come from Indiana, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania, Nashville, just to get the chance to perform,” she explained. “We take the bands that perform on Thursday nights, it’s kind of like an audition night, and decide whether to have them back for a full, paid weekend night like Friday or Saturday.”
Elmore says getting invited back would be a major career boost for the band.
“The next best thing to Nashville, for anyone from the state of Kentucky, is to come play the Eddie Montgomery Steakhouse and get a Friday or Saturday night here all to yourselves.
And while getting a weekend gig remains the ultimate goal, lead singer and acoustic guitarist Kody Roberts, says getting to play even once, where Montgomery Gentry has played before, was a dream come true.
“They’re actually one of my biggest inspirations,” he noted. “I love every song they do. Sharing the same stage as a band of that caliber just blows my mind.”
He and the rest of the band put on a strong show that night, playing their usual mix of new and classic country with covers of songs by Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, and Gary Allan, and old favorites by artists like Hank Williams, Junior. They also played an original tune written by Roberts called, “Corn-fed.”
“It’s just about being from a small town,” Roberts says. “And how you’re raised country and you can be just as good as anybody, it doesn’t matter where you’re from.”
So, as Elmore, Roberts and fellow band members lead guitarist and singer Billy Cahoe, bass player Cory Reid, and sound engineer Jim Reid (no relation), wait to hear if they’ll be invited back to Eddie Montgomery’s, they won’t have a lot of time to think about it. They’re too busy. They continue to be in great demand and are enjoying every opportunity to get out and share their music.
“It’s a win, win situation,” says Elmore. “We get to play music and watch people have fun and people get to enjoy country music.”
Bourbon Country will be performing at Khalil’s on Dixie Highway in Louisville this Friday from 9 pm to 1 am.
Photos: Pam Windsor