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Lee Gattenby, Scott Stahlecker, Eric Doucet, and Rusty Singleton (from left to right) make up Troubadour North, an emerging “neo-country” band on the Kenai Peninsula.

Local band thinking big

Posted: June 23, 2011 - 8:00am

While the band members of Troubadour North love playing at venues around Kenai, Soldotna, and the like, they have their collective sights set on something bigger.

Eric Doucet (lead vocals/ rhythm acoustic guitar), Rusty Singleton (bass), Scott Stahlecker (drums), and Lee Gattenby (back-up vocals/lead electric guitar) started collaborating in November 2010 as what Gattenby refers to as a "throw-together band." As time rolled on and the positive feedback rolled in, though, the group's eyes got wide with the prospect of moving beyond their modest beginnings.

"We're going to spread ourselves out beyond our humble surroundings," Gattenby said definitively. "I mean, I love it here. But I want to be playing in front of 20,000 to 30,000 individuals."

The band got started last year when Gattenby, who had already been working with Doucet, approached the other two soon-to-be members with the purpose of creating an informal group to play at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds for a New Year's Eve shindig. Their neo-classical metal sound paired with Doucet's hearty country vocals earned the four heaps of praise for their unique style.

"After that things really started to jell for us," said Stahlecker. "We play well together and our styles really mix well together. We've been busy ever since."

Busy playing venues such as the Vagabond Inn, off Kalifornsky Beach, in addition to private weddings and other engagements. And their summer is already looking plenty hectic: aside from a slot at this weekend's Clam Jam at the Clam Shell Lodge, Troubadour North will be playing at Soldotna's Progress Days, the Fourth of July festivities, the Kenai Peninsula State Fair, and Veronica's Café.

The band calls their genre "neo-country," a hybrid of their neo-classical metal instrumentals and country vocals. When one member arrives at practice with an idea or rough draft for a song, the group plays it out and tweaks each of their individual components to impart their own spin on the music. In doing so, they instantly double their potential audience.

"All of a sudden we're reaching two different sets of listeners that normally wouldn't listen to the same thing," Gattenby said.

The combination of younger musicians - Singleton and Doucet are in their early 20s - and older ones - Gattenby and Stahlecker are at least two decades older than their counterparts - also helps the band achieve a distinct sound.

"We're a nice blend of young, energetic musicians on one side, and experience on the other," Stahlecker said. "It really comes together well."

Troubadour North is currently working on a compilation album, which is an album where a bunch of individuals come together and share the cost of pulling out a quality CD. Called "Destination Midnight," the album will feature the band collaborating with artists from across the United States, as well as from the United Kingdom, Malta, and the Dominican Republic. It should be released by the end of this year.

As is apparent by their compilation album partners, Troubadour North has international ambitions. While the normal formula for local bands on the Peninsula involves developing a healthy following and then playing the same circuit for decades, Troubadour North does not want to go that route.

"There are a lot of big-time musicians in some of the bands around here that are content with playing in this small market," Singleton said. "And they're happy and that's good. But for us, we have bigger aspirations and we're actively pursuing those."

"That is what we are trying to do," Gattenby echoed. "We are trying to be bigger than we are."

More information on the band, including a detailed schedule of future shows, can be found at www.troubadournorth.com.

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