- Published on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 10:39
- Written by Eric Dahl
My first introduction to the Flat River Band, or FRB as fans call them, was right after I moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Made up of the three Sitze brothers, FRB and I shared a kinship - we were all from Missouri, me from Fruitland and them from Fredericktown. Like much of Missouri, Fredericktown was blessed to have incredibly talented musicians, and The Sitze Family was part of this tradition.
Led by their parents, the Sitze brothers primarily sang and played Gospel Bluegrass music, even hitting number one on the charts and the top twenty in the genre.
In 2003, Chad Sitze made the move to Nashville as a songwriter, saying that he “was drawn to Nashville like a magnet to metal.” In 2006 his brothers, Dennijo and Andy, made the pilgrimage to the music mecca as well, and the Flat River Band was formed. The name Flat River comes from the town in Missouri where their father had a barber shop. I caught up with Chad to talk about the new album and future plans for FRB.
Eric: So why did you change your band's name from The Sitze Family to Flat River Band when you moved to Nashville?
Chad: Having a name like “Sitze” is easily mispronounced. I mean, seriously we’ve been called everything under the sun. Back in our family-band days we pulled up to a church one time and it said 'welcome the “Sh*#%s Family!”' So we figured we would eliminate any kind of trouble.
Eric: Who got you and your brothers started on playing music?
Chad: My father taught me how to play bass guitar when I was seven, and then later taught me some guitar. My grandfather played the dobro and asked my brothers and I if we’d like to start going to bluegrass festivals with him. Shortly thereafter he was taking us to get lessons from a multi-talented blind man from Ironton, Missouri.
Eric: How many albums has your family put out, including the ones under The Sitze Family name?
Chad: There have been a total of ten Sitze Family albums and five FRB albums including our Christmas one.
Eric: Where did the name of the new album Bums & Hookers, Strangers & Lookers come from?
Chad: It comes from the chorus of the song “Locust Street" on the new album. But I wrote the lyrics for the tune based on the trips that my dad took my brothers on for seven years to homeless shelters in St. Louis. Every weekend the family hopped in daddy’s Thunderbird and drove 80 miles north to visit the homeless. Those trips are also where we learned how to harmonize, and my mom rode shotgun and would direct her little trio!
Eric: There are a number of great songs on the new album but one of my personal favorites is “God Bless the Radio” how did you come up with it?
Chad: We were playing a gig out west one weekend listening to the radio late at night scanning the stations, and much to our surprise it was the same song being played on every station. It was at least six or seven stations and to top that off it was a song with no meaning, no substance, and zero heart! God Bless the radio!
Eric: Who is Jeffro Jenkins that writes most of the songs for your band?
Chad: That’s my alter ego, one of my many hillbilly personalities!
Eric: Where can our readers purchase the new album Bums & Hookers, Strangers & Lookers?
Chad: Right now we are releasing a song a month on iTunes. The full album can be purchased at our live shows, or send $15 to Flat River Band P.O. Box 218293 Nashville, TN 37221
Eric: Some of your past albums have featured professionaly produced videos that have appeared on your website and Youtube. Will this album have a video also?
Chad: There isn’t a video for this project yet but it is on the table. My brothers and I are talking to a couple of different videographers about this.
Eric: Last question: What are the future plans for the Flat River Band?
Chad: We are currently finishing up another album in the studio right now. We love the whole recording process . . . it’s a blast.
The current lineup for the Flat River Band consists of Chad Sitze on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, his brother Dennijo on mandolin, lead guitar, and vocals, and Andy who plays electric and upright bass, and sings harmonies. Compared to their past albums, which have all been well produced, I feel that Bums & Hookers, Strangers & Lookers is the strongest album that FRB has recorded to date, and there are several radio-ready cuts like “God Bless the Radio.” To find out where the Flat River Band is playing near you, or if you are in the Nashville area and want to see them live check out their website at www.flatriverband.com. The harmonies and tight mesh of instrumentation with FRB is something only a family-based band can truly achieve, and knowing that the title track was drawn from their childhood when they helped the homeless in St. Louis make the lyrics strike a chord that resonates with true clarity and caring.