Author’s Note: Eight years ago on a Saturday night I got a phone call from my father telling me I needed to drop what I was doing and get to the Washington DC Temple Visitor’s Center to hear a country music band. There were so many parts of that request that didn’t make sense to me that I didn’t know how to respond. My father didn’t like country music. And country music at the temple? Nothing about that sounded fun or interesting to me. I love country music, but I told him I couldn’t make it in time. He said the band was so good that he actually offered me a cash bribe to drive over an hour away to attend the stake conference of another stake in another state the next morning to hear this band. That piqued my interest.
What could be so special about this band that my non-country music loving father would bribe me to hear them play? And why on earth was a country music band playing at an inner city stake conference?
I am happy to say I made the drive to hear the band. It was the Nashville Tribute to Joseph Smith. I was sold. I was a fan. I understood why my father wanted me to hear this music. My faith and testimony were renewed and restored as I heard the music.
But more than that, a little still, small voice whispered to me that this was just the beginning for me and this music.
I didn’t meet the band that day. It was a few more months before I was even able to find the album to buy it. But I didn’t forget the music and voices I heard.
Through a long series of events, less than one year later I had invited the Nashville Tribute Band to come back to Washington, DC, to play at a singles conference. That was when I actually met them for the first time. The producer and the man behind the Nashville Tribute Band, Jason Deere, told me that the guys playing with him that day, Tim Gates, Matt Lopez, and Brad Hull, were also in their own band, known as Due West. He encouraged me to have Due West play a few songs of their own before the real concert began. I was skeptical, but went along with it.
I’ll never forget what happened next. Maybe you have to be a musician to really appreciate it. But an unknown band stood in front of a tired audience that had never heard of them, or their music before, and began to play. Under even the best conditions an unknown band playing unknown music would really only expect polite applause. But maybe under optimal conditions, they could expect enthusiastic applause.
I knew something the audience didn’t. One of the members of the band was quite ill. In fact, I watched him vomit just moments before walking on-stage. And they wouldn’t be using the best sound equipment either. It was just your run of the mill church cultural hall. I knew they were talented, but I didn’t have high hopes for them at that moment.
They only played four songs. Each song was received with more and more enthusiasm. And by the last song, the audience had given them a standing ovation.
As a musician myself I was impressed. As an events planner I was impressed. And as a country music fan, I was really impressed. These guys were the real thing.
Due West hadn’t put out an album yet. In fact, they hadn’t even recorded in a studio yet. But again that same little voice told me that the journey for this band had just begun.
Seven years later, I’m blessed to call the members of Due West my friends. And I’m excited to tell you just how far they have come.
Less than one year after their Grand Ole Opry debut, Due West has reached another major milestone.
The band has created a new album- entirely on their own. Freed from their previous record label contract, and without financial partners or producers, Due West used the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter to raise the money for their new album.
Using social media the three guys turned to their fans to finance their album. It was a daring venture, one that could backfire on them. But in just 28 days, 310 backers came together to donate nearly $32,000 to the album, “Move Like That.” The funds were used to pay for the studio time, marketing promotions, and other expenses associated with production.
The support and faith their fans put into them and into their music made an impact on the band. “We have no one to blame [for the quality of the music] but ourselves.”
Listen to it here-
The full EP will be available August 27. You can pre-order the album on iTunes here–
A Journey of Faith and Music
Without a record label behind them, Brad, Matt, and Tim had to find a new producer to assist with the album. Their previous album had been produced by the legendary Garth Fundis. Their new album was produced literally by a guy that they met in the street. But the story of how they came to meet the young man renewed their belief and faith that the Lord has guided them in their journey to make clean, good, and fun country music.
It began as nothing more than a chance meeting of a friend in a parking lot. The friend walked up to them and introduced someone that was with him. That someone was a young man from Seattle, and new to Nashville, but was already a fan of Due West. Brandon Metcalf introduced himself. He was a fellow Mormon looking to get a break as a music producer.
“He had a great vibe and character,” the band recalls. So they took a chance on him and let him produce their new album. The result? “It’s the best six songs we’ve ever recorded.”
“We’ve never had to rely on faith like this ever before,” Brad shares as he describes the process of making this new album.
“But everything has been laid in our path to work out.It was a total leap of faith, but we felt good about it.”
“Through faith and obedience to know what is right, we keep pressing forward,” adds Matt.
The band has hit the road again, traveling the country to promote the “Move Like That” EP. It began July 14 and will conclude in mid-August. They will travel from Nashville to Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.
The trio will open for country music stars Trace Adkins, Billy Currington, and the Doobie Brothers, just to name a few.
The time they must spend on the road keeps them away from their families. All three men are married. Tim and wife Roberta have four children at home. Matt and his wife Cardin just welcomed a new infant son. And Brad and his new bride Brooke are expecting their first bundle of joy later this year.
“If we didn’t have our women we never could have made it,” Tim explains. “[Berta] is supportive and takes care of everything. We have Skype FHE’ and family prayers while I’m on the road. Technology is important to me. It keeps my family right at my fingertips.”
“Doing it on our own means even while we are home, we are working,” Matt explains. He chokes up a bit as she shares how his nine year old daughter thanked him for “working so hard to buy us groceries.”
Faith and Music
The same perfect harmonies, clean lyrics, and original melodies that drew me to the band so many years ago are still present today. The six song EP is as fresh, fun, and enjoyable as ever.
Tim, a true classic country purist, explains that it is a conscious choice to write clean lyrics. “It’s who we are, so it’s what we write. We don’t write about drinking because we don’t drink.” He laughs. “That’s not to say we don’t listen to Merle Haggard though.”
In spite of their busy schedules and traveling on the road, they still manage to hold church callings. Brad explains, “A few musicians have been in the ward before me, and so my ward gets it. We are faithful churchgoers at home and on the road.”
Matt shares a personal experience recently where being a part of Due West helped in missionary work and home teaching. The missionaries had invited him to help teach a new investigator. When the investigator had heard he was in Due West, he got excited. The whole band came over and sang a few Nashville Tribute songs for him. (He’s getting baptized soon.)
“We can’t separate what we do secularly as a band and who we are- LDS guys. I guess you could say we are bringing the Restored Church to the world in our own way.”
Erin Ann McBride is a writer, dreamer, and single woman. By day she works in marketing, and by night she hunts unicorns and writes romantic novels, “You Heard It Here First,” and the sequel “This Just In!” (Both free this week on Amazon!) And somewhere in the middle, she runs www.MormonBooksandAuthors.com. And if you really want to keep on her social life, you can always find her at the Story of a Nice Mormon Girl.