Tulsa World

Tulsa, Oklahoma

September 26, 2001


“Nace Brothers stick to core values, original members”

By John Wooley


It’s hard enough for any band – regional, national or otherwise – to stay together for two decades with three-fourths of its original membership intact.  But even before the Nace Brothers Band began, drummer David Nace and guitarist Jimmy Nace had logged several years together in another band – their dad’s.


In the late 1960’s, Johnny Nace recorded a couple of regional hits that took off in the Kansas City area.  As a result of that buzz, he got to tour with the likes of Carl Perkins, Buck Owens and Ernest Tubb.  And, while he never had a major national hit, he ended up writing several songs recorded by country stars, including a couple that made some noise for Claude Gray, “Woman, Ease My Mind” and “The Kind You Find Tonight.”


David, the eldest, started working with his father’s band first.  Then came Jimmy, who joined up in the mid-70’s.  Then the two broke away and formed their own group.  And, as you might imagine, leaving their dad’s group took a bit of an emotional toll.


“It was tough,” said David Nace in a telephone conversation.  “And at first, I think it was very much to his dismay.  But at that time he was at a point in his career where he still wanted to play but he wanted to travel less.  He bought a ranch in Sedalia (Mo.), and that took time to run, too.


“Jim had been with us for about five years by then, he was becoming a really good player, and we’d been doing some things within the band.  We wanted to get out and see what we could do.  And after a while Dad really got behind us.  We started traveling and getting into some places we’d never been in before, and I think he was proud of us for doing that.”


The first official Nace Brother Band gig was in Sedalia, on Dec. 31, 1981.  Their bassist and fiddler was then, as now, Tim Williams.


“He’s been with us from very beginning,” said Nace.  “We’ve got a strong nucleus.  As we’ve gone on, there’ve been changes around us, but not many.  We still call (keyboardist) T.J. (Erhardt) the new guy, even though he’s been with us for six years.  And the guy he replaced was with us for eight years.”


Like their friends the Cate Brothers and Levon Helm, the Nace Brothers create songs that are tough to categorize.  Honed in honky-tonks and Midwestern bars, it’s an original and unusual sound, wedding music that’s part R&B, part country and part rock ‘n’ roll with lyrics that draw deeply from the people and things that touch the band’s life.  It’s great entertainment for people looking for something outside the mainstream, but not quite as great if you’re on the inside looking out, trying to get on a mainstream record label.


One of the Nace Brothers’ original numbers, “Club 15,” made it to the “Margaritaville Café Late Night Menu” disc from MCA (the group regularly plays Jimmy Buffett’s venues in Key West and New Orleans), but so far, a major-label deal has evaded them.


“Sometimes record companies look at us and say, ‘man, you’re really good, but we don’t know what to do with you,’” noted Nace.  “Of course, there’s a big advantage to being on a label, but there can be a downside, too, until you finish paying for everything the label charges you for.  A good example is our friends the Rainmakers, who got on a major label.  We talked to ‘em when they first came back from Europe, and asked about the label, and they said, ‘Well, it’s really cool, but we sure made more money when we were Steve, Bob and Rich, just playing around town.’


“Obviously, we’d love to be with a major label, but right now, it’s good to have complete control of everything we’ve go – such as it is,” he added with a laugh.


The group’s new disc, “Trouble on the Hill,” should be available the second week in October.  The official release date is Oct. 2, when they celebrate with a concert and party at Kansas City’s venerable Uptown Theater.



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