For two days, on the Fourth of July weekend, the Stump Dodger Bash in Gays Mills will host some of the more promising new talent on the country music scene.
Some names may be familiar. Headliners Dylan Scott and Eric Pasley are both doing well on the country music charts. However, some of the other performers may be new to your ears. And, while these musicians will be gathered in Gays Mills for the weekend, within the week they will be scattered across the country pursuing their dreams.
The Independent-Scout recently had the opportunity to interview three of the musicians scheduled to play at this year’s Stump Dodger Bash.
Brandon Chase primarily plays guitar and piano, though he is willing to try his hand at anything to make the music he describes as “soulful new country”.
“I got my start in music in my church youth group,” Chase said. “I took the leap of faith and never looked back.”
It’s not dreams of fame and money that compel him to pursue music. Rather, according to Chase, it’s the opportunity to bring inspiration and encouragement to others that drives him forward.
Chase said that anything could inspire his songwriting, though personal relationships and “people watching” may be the biggest factors.
“My favorite original song that I wrote is called ‘Miracle,’ which will be on my debut album coming out later this year,” Chase said. “It’s a special song to me because it’s about what my mom went through during all my complications as an infant. It reminds me how blessed I am to be where I am and why I do what I do.”
At only a few days old, Chase quit breathing 64 times in 12 hours. His family was told by doctors that he could be deaf, blind, mentally impaired, or possibly all three because of the trauma. Not only did the Arlington, Texas native not suffer any complications, he went on to graduate high school at the age of 15 and completed a masters certificate in songwriting from Berklee College of Music at the age of 17.
Chase is currently playing 50 to 70 shows away from home each year. However, that number is beginning to grow, which will help overcome the biggest challenge in a music career – recognition.
“There’s definitely no lack of talent in this world,” Chase said. “You just have to find a way to stand out from the rest.”
Another rising star, Jared Blake, will play on the Stump Dodger Bash stage before Chase.
Influenced by musicians he identified as “outlaws”—Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings—Blake also brings a touch of rock and roll sensibility to his energetic performances.
“I travel more than half the year and play over 100 shows,” Blake said.
“Balancing family and travel, staying in shape to perform and keep vocals in prime condition, long hours, “Blake said. “It’s always challenging running a business while looking like it’s all fun and games. There isn’t one single easy part of this job, but I can’t imagine it any other way.”
Describing his music as modern country, Blake said his sound is just the natural result of his songwriting. He has been singing and performing since the age of 14.
“The whole world is an inspiration,” Blake said. “People, what’s going on in my life, what’s happening to other people.
“Life is always changing and some days it’s just a little rough getting through, but we always do,” explained Blake when asked what his favorite song he had written was. Its title is ‘Change’.
“It’s the ultimate take-a-step-back-and-breathe song,” Blake said. “That’s needed almost everyday at some moment in this career, and in most peoples lives.”
Blake, who loves working with children, volunteers with both the Make-a-Wish and the Gilbert Brown Foundations.
Starting young seems to be a common theme among the musicians. Saturday afternoon performer Jordan Anderson is certainly no exception.
Anderson began singing at the age of three. Moving with her family from Loveland, Colorado to Florida at age 10, she began learning piano and joined the cast-choir at Disney World in Orlando. At 15, Anderson picked up the guitar and it wasn’t long before she tried her hand at songwriting.
Anderson describes her sound as country infused with pop rock.
“I grew up listening to country music, so that’s where my heart is,” Anderson said. “But, I always enjoy listening to pop and rock music, as well. Naturally, those two styles began to fuse with my country side. I genuinely feel my sound incorporates a good balance of pop and rock, while still remaining true to my country roots.”
Anderson said she sets a time to sit down and practice because it’s her life – she is playing the guitar and singing constantly.
Anderson spends as much time as possible on the road, on average, eight to nine months of the year.
“Even when we’re not technically ‘on the road’, we’re still running to do shows here and there,” Anderson noted.
Time is young country singer’s biggest challenge.
“A career in music doesn’t happen overnight – you can’t just decide to be an artist one day and have it all the next,” Anderson explained. “It takes a lot of patience, hard work and dedication, but it is all worth it at the end of the day.”
Anderson’s favorite song ‘Please Don’t’ recently made into the Top 40.
“I always tell people that writing this song was like a therapy session for me – every part of the song came straight from the heart,” she said. “I wrote it with my good friend Caleb Maitland. The song is about dealing with heartbreak and having the courage to put yourself out there again and be vulnerable to love. As humans we naturally stay away from something that’s hurt us before, so it’s a constant battle in our minds to put ourselves in a situation where we could potentially get hurt again.”
Many listeners have contacted Anderson to let her know the song struck a chord with them, giving them courage.
“As a songwriter, there’s no better feeling than knowing your songs are helping others,” Anderson continued. “The fact that it’s such a personal song to me and it resonated with others - that just made the song mean even more for me.”
While Anderson tries to stay away from politics, she does take time to help various organizations raise food for the homeless whenever she is home in Nashville.
Stump Dodger Bash organizer Jim Showen gave much of the credit for developing the lineup to the staff at WGLR out of Lancaster and Platteville.
“They are very good at smelling out new talent,” Showen said.
Showen encouraged anyone planning to attend to reserve a camping spot now in the newly expanded campgrounds.
He hopes to work with more community organizations and vendors in the future. Showen sees the Stump Dodger Bash as an opportunity for charitable efforts to successfully fund raise.
“Musical events are a viable way to revitalize our community and build local economy,” Showen noted.
Proceeds from beer sales at this year’s Bash will go to support the Wheel of Todd Foundation, providing an ill child and their family an all-expenses-paid trip to watch the Packers play a home game.
Entry into the Stump Dodger Bash is $40 for the weekend pass or $25 for the day pass. Children 16 and under are free with a paid adult.
The event line-up is:
Friday, July 4
• Dylan Scott—10:30 p.m.
• Fireworks by the Gays Mills Fire Dept.—9 p.m.
• Brandon Chase—7:30 p.m.
• Jared Blake—5 p.m.
• Monte Berger—3 p.m.
Saturday, July 5
• Eric Paslay—9:30 p.m.
• Wes Hayden—7 p.m.
• Erica Nicole—4:30 p.m.
• Jordan Anderson—2:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets and to reserve a campsite, please call 608-735-4929 or stop by the Showen Excavating and All County Signs office at 303 Main Street in Gays Mills. You can also order tickets online at www.stumpdodgerbash.com.