Sawyer Brown may sing about “Six Days on the Road,” but for this country band, it’s been more like 37 years — and counting — on the road.
With a lifetime of touring, recording and other commitments, nothing is set in stone when it comes to scheduling.
“I live my life in pencil,” said Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard, keyboardist for the band.
Sawyer Brown is scheduled to perform at the Weinberg Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $36.75 to $66.75.
Hubbard, who hails from Florida, is one of the founding members of Sawyer Brown, along with longtime friend and lead vocalist Mark Miller.
“I’ve known Mark since he was 13 years old,” Hubbard said in a recent phone interview from Nashville. “Four of the five us [in the band] have been together since Day 1. It’s truly a brotherhood and getting along is a real cool aspect of this. I suppose you could do this with people you don’t like, but it would be challenging!”
A good sense of humor is essential to five guys spending days and nights on the road inside a tour bus and walking out still best friends, he said.
“One of the great things about being in a band is that you can’t get too big for your britches because you have four other guys ready to pop your bubble,” he said with a laugh.
Musically, the band has been on the same page from the beginning. The Sawyer Brown sound “just happened, and continues to happen when we get together to play,” he said, songs about real-life, blue-collar working-class life experiences.
“We may not agree on where to eat, but our work ethic and music direction is the same,” he said.
The band has earned multiple awards and had several chart-topping hits including the rousing “Step That Step,” “Some Girls Do,” “Thank God for You,” “Shakin,’” the tear-jerking ballad “The Walk,” and “It Wasn’t His Child,” a song about a man raising a son that was not his own — the man was Joseph, the son was Jesus.
The band released its 23rd album in 2011 and that includes songs about the group’s musical journey. It is titled, appropriately enough, “Travelin’ Band.”
The road to stardom
The band came together in Nashville as a touring band for other performers. It was a good experience, Hubbard said. But like all good things, it ended.
In 1983, the TV show “Star Search,” hosted by Ed McMahon, rolled into Nashville for auditions, and the guys thought it would be a good opportunity to get a demo tape together to take to record labels.
“It was the first season [of ‘Star Search’]. We just wanted to get the videotape of the audition. That was all we wanted from the process,” Hubbard said.
And they did. A few days later, they also got a call to head to L.A. and they were selected as contestants for the talent show.
“We rolled into L.A. like the Clampetts. We were only missing Granny in the rocking chair on the roof,” Hubbard said. “We had an old schoolbus we had renovated, and it rode like a school bus! We had no idea what we were doing, but it was a great experience.”
Most of the contestants were already working in their field but, like Sawyer Brown, they were looking for their big break. By the season’s end, Sawyer Brown was becoming a household name and the band walked away with the $100,000 grand prize.
“We invested most of it into a tour bus that we literally rode the wheels off of,” he said. “Most of the time, we still travel by bus.”
While they may have been a hit in the living rooms of America, Hubbard said the record label execs in Nashville weren’t so sure about this high-energy act.
“In 1982 to ‘87, we were so far left of center in Nashville,” he said. “We heard, ‘you’re too young’, ‘you move around too much,’ ‘you don’t wear cowboy boots/hats’, ‘you’re too everything,’” he said.
However, they were rocking big hair and mullets. No matter.
“We said, ‘this is what we do and this is what we’re going to do.’ It was and still is a really energetic stage show,” Hubbard said. “That’s what we do.”
Mark Miller draws from his high-energy Pentecostal background with dance moves on stage.
While the band is working on new music, Hubbard said this show at the Weinberg will feature their familiar hits.
“I go to live music all the time and it’s really true — people come to hear what they know,” he said. “Playing new songs is guaranteed to send people to the bathroom or the beer line.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to Frederick,” he said.
The concert is part of the 99.9 WFRE Free Country Rewind Series, which will bring Rodney Atkins to the stage on May 9.