Veteran bluegrass sideman Kevin Prater is stepping out of the shadows to front his own band.
Those who pay close attention to The Kevin Prater Band will hear echoes of the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene, especially in the high lead vocals and polished harmonies. But while those bands were early influences for Kevin and others in the band, the new venture isn’t about copying anybody.
“I’m going to play my style of music – the way I sound, the way I sing, the way I play,” Kevin said the other day from his home in Pikeville, KY.
But even though his name is attached to the band, he said he sees this as a venture of equal partners: “It’s different being the so-called leader, but I can’t do it without them. They’re all one-fifth of it, just like I am. If we make a dime, they’re going to get their two cents.”
Kevin said he learned a lot about leading a band – what to do and, in some cases, what not to do – by watching and interacting with other bands as he toured with James King, Melvin Goins and, most recently, the Bluegrass Brothers.
In the end, though, what matters is the music – and the fans. “It’s about them, it’s not about us,” he said. “You’d better be able to entertain them when you get up there or you won’t be doing it long.”
The band is adding dates for this year and 2014 and is working on a CD that he hopes to release later this year. The band is in discussions with several labels, but Kevin plans to put out a record with or without a deal, using his own Sound Maker’s Studio, in Belcher, KY.
“If a label won’t take it, I will get the project out and push it myself,” he said. “Then, I’m not being sarcastic, they’ll wish they had taken it.”
The band is laying down tracks and working up arrangements for the CD, which will be a mix of previously recorded but not necessarily well known bluegrass songs and originals. “We’ve been pretty fortunate so far finding some good material,” he said. One song, Walkin’ Rails and Countin’ Ties, was written by members of the band. Others come from Larry Cordle and Cliff Abbott. (Also in the mix is a song I co-wrote with Chris Dockins.)
Some of the new material is already incorporated in the band’s shows, with more in the works.
There were times, especially when touring with James King, when Kevin was on the road for 200 shows a year. With those days in mind, he’s eager to build up the Kevin Prater Band’s workload.
“I miss being on the circuit as heavily as I used to be,” Kevin said. “I want to get back out there.”
For more about the Kevin Prater Band, or for contact information, visit them online.