It’s hard to know where to start when talking about Sawyer Brown.
More than 4500 shows and counting. More than a million miles behind them and still seeing the highway miles click by outside their bus window. Twenty-three albums. More than 50 chart singles. CMA, ACM, and CMT awards on the shelf. To pull a line from one of the band’s enduring hits: “This is the life and times of a travelin’ band.” A traveling band, indeed. Always on the move—on the road, on stage, and in their career. When asked about what keeps him motivated on the road, lead singer Mark Miller says, “It’s playing the next show. Be grateful for where you’ve been and be excited about where you’re going.”
That excitement has been on display since the very first time Sawyer Brown stepped foot onstage in the early 1980s. Beginning as the road band for another singer, Sawyer Brown broke out on their own playing everything from clubs to pig roasts in those earliest days. “There’s no such thing as a gig we wouldn’t take,” Miller laughs, remembering the beginning of the ride. “We knew that we wanted to play music and we knew that we wanted to work at being the best live band there was—and the only way to do that, was to get out and play shows. And so we did.”
It would certainly be an understatement to say that Sawyer Brown has “played shows.” The band has earned its place as one of the premier live acts in music. The band began by playing 275-300 nights a year for the first decade or more of its career—and has never come off the road. Tireless road warriors, the band thrives on playing live. “Live is where it all comes together for us,” keyboardist Hobie Hubbard says. “The audience brings its own energy, we bring our own energy and the music—and the combination of all of that is what makes playing live so unique. It exists for that moment in time—you’re either there, or you’re not a part of that moment. We’re blessed to be able to be a part of those moments night after night.”
The band’s live shows are legendary. Having been described as “the Rolling Stones of Country Music,” the band bounds onto the stage night after night, delivering its own unique brand of high-energy entertainment, and the band remains a perennial favorite at fairs, festivals, theatres, and casinos. “We love getting to hear the stories of where people have seen us play—and the number of times they’ve seen us play,” drummer Joe Smyth says. “For some, we’re their weekend getaway—they’ve seen us all over the country. But we never lose sight of the fact that on any given night, it’s going to be the first time someone’s seen us—and that’s exciting. We want that show, that night, to live up to everything they hoped for when they came to the show. Couldn’t ask for better motivation.”Keyboard player Hobie Hubbard agrees: “It’s always humbling when someone comes up after a show and tells us that they hear themselves or their family in our music. I hope that they can look up there on stage and see themselves—because we can sure look out at them and see ourselves. Every day we’re on the road, one of the best parts of the day is waking around whatever town we’re in and just soaking it in—listening to folks talking in restaurants, just watching life unfold one story at a time.”