Some truths are eternal. Any pub owner can tell you that nothing will pack people into their establishments faster than a sign out front saying “25 Cent Beer.” These days, you are seeing that sign a lot. And, though there might be some that start out with mild disappointment that the sign wasn't for discount drinks, they don't stay that way for long, as Steve Armstrong & the 25 Cent Beer Band keep up the good time tradition that was started by many a discount brew. See the sign - you just found the party.
In a little over four years, Steve and his traveling combo of musicians have built quite a little enterprise. From the legendary bus caravans, in which local fans follow the band to their performances around the State, to the slew of Review Awards the band has scored over the last couple of years, this group has quickly built broad support and a solid brand in the red-hot genre that is contemporary country music.
The first thing you notice when you sit down with the band is the smiles. They appear to genuinely be having a good time. It's clear that that is an attitude that permeates the band and their traveling “family.” Armstrong indicated this was a big part of his motivation for starting the band, “We wanted to entertain a little bit, nothing over the top, but we wanted to make a connection with the people. Some people think of 'fan' as a nasty word. But 'friend” isn't. We set out to make friends with this band.”
Drummer Zach Brunett, the newest member of the band, picked up on this sentiment when he said, “You spend so much time with these guys, and they become like another family.” And, with perfect timing veteran guitarist Steve Hornak chimed in “Well, that's good, because none of our regular friends will hang out with us anymore.” The laughs that followed were real and it told you these were the “regular” kind of friends that everyone is looking for.
After a few lineup changes, the band has settled in on a mix of familiar and new faces. While Burnett, bassist Levi Goodwin and guitarist Jerome Ratell represent a new wave of area talent; veteran music aficionados will recognize Steve Hornak and Bruce Rupp from many quality and “historic” area bands.
When quizzed about their longevity in the area music scene, Rupp made the point “We've been doing this our whole lives. It's fun to pass it on. We wouldn't still do it if it wasn't fun.”
Getting back to those that follow that band, Armstrong added, “It's come a long way since the first shows, as acoustic duo. We decided to wear headset mics, run around and get crazy with the crowd and it kind of grew from there.” Burnett added, “The more we do this, the more we learn about entertaining. You have to be able to let your guard down a little bit.”
The band has big plans for the remainder of the year. They have their first out-of-State gig booked and the band is finishing up their first CD. The self-titled “Steve Armstrong and the 25 Cent Beer Band” will be released June 6. Watch for details of the release event. Best guess it will be a rip-roaring party.