An Afternoon with the John Saunders Band
Last weekend I had the pleasure of experiencing the John Saunders Band as they performed at the Whitewater Festival in Canon City. Their fusion of nineties classics with John’s organic song-writing skills creates a sound that is uniquely Colorado that they call “alt country.” Hailing from Castle Rock, the band performs regularly at local gigs not only in their home city but also in Denver, Colorado Springs, and other surrounding areas.
John says the band got its start after he met Jeff Schwartz, the drummer, during a late-night jam session in early 2012. They asked each other, “what if?” and approached bassist Rick Packard to join them. They played as a three-piece for a while, and then decided to broaden their scope and sound by adding Josh Cervantes on lead guitar. After only one informal session, they knew their band was complete.
What really makes this band versatile is the addition of Ken Dearth on steel guitar and, occasionally, horns. Jeff, who arranges some of the horn parts, has been involved in music since grade school, starting on violin and moving to drums in junior high. “The horns really add a new dimension to our music,” Jeff told me. “Our sound really expands.” The crowds expand, too. The John Saunders Band rarely has a small audience, and they have amassed quite a fan base. Looking around at the crowd at the Whitewater Festival, several hundred were actively listening, and that, combined with their almost 300 followers on Facebook and their regularly crowded venues signals a strong future ahead.
The band has evolved over the last five years, and John keeps writing original songs, sometimes re-vamping compositions he wrote years ago. All band members have a say in which songs are played, but the band has some favorite covers that they love: Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Freddie Jones Band, to name two. The mix of John’s original music and classic cover songs keep this band in what they call “the Colorado Groove.”
This summer looks to be a busy one for the John Saunders Band, so make sure to check out the video for a sample. They play best to a live crowd, though, so your best bet is to head out to a show to get the best experience. These guys are very friendly and down to earth, so introduce yourself. John has a great handshake, so make sure to get one.
You can see the John Saunders Band at the following dates/venues:
July 15, Castle Rock Wine Fest, 4 pm
July 23, Castle Rock Jam, MAC, TBD
August 4, Hideaway, Castle Rock, 8 pm
August 12, Maddiepalooza, TBD
September 5, Castle Rock Street Party, 5 pm
September 9, Roxborough Music Festival, TBD
September 23, Taste of Lone Tree, TBD