Fans of upbeat country music will want to check out Derby native band Everett Lee and the Underground Stampede (ELUS). With a blend of original material and covers of artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Toby Keith this crowd pleasing group of musicians is one locals won't want to miss.
ELUS is composed of Everett “Bud” Scritchfield, Jr. on lead vocals and guitar; Tommy Bijak on vocals and guitar; Chris Skea on bass; and Mike Stuhr on percussion. Bud's wife Linda serves as their manager and helps promote the band. She is very proud and supportive of Bud's career as a musician.
|Everett Lee (Submitted Photo)|
“These guys are amazing,” said Linda. “They are always ready and willing to work. And, they are all dedicated and ready to get to the next level. I'd have to say that these are the best group of guys we've had so far.”
Bud first began playing music when he was twelve years old, wrote his first song at sixteen and has been playing since. Music is a large part of his familial history. His father Everett Sr. was born and raised in West Virginia where exposure to the country lifestyle was able to influence his music. Bud's father, aunt and uncle performed together in a band and playing with them was Bud's first exposure to live music. He would often join in during practice playing guitar and singing along. Bud has a family of his own now and also runs a business. His business is called Greyline Signs and is based out of Brant, New York.
Lead Guitarist Tommy Bijak has been playing guitar now for 10 years and has been playing live for five of those years. He joined ELUS in the Spring of 2011. He has enjoyed being able to share the stage with Eric Church ,Charlie Daniels, Chris Cagle, Montegomery Gentry, Lorrie Morgan,and James Wesley as well as the opportunity to travel to Nashville with the band. “I truly love making music with my guitar and I'm very thankful for the accomplishments that have come my way,” said Bijak.
|Lead Guitarist Tommy Bijak. (Submitted Photo)|
Bassist Chris “Chrispi” Skea has been playing since he was fifteen. Throughout his youth he played with many local classic rock bands. His influences range from Ross Valory, Timothy B. Schmit, Nathan East and Sting. He joined ELUS in October of 2010, playing his first live performance on his birthday in mid November of 2010. “In my 20 plus yeas of music I can honestly say I have never been surrounded by such a great group of people,” said Skea. “The opportunity to play in Nashville has been an incredible experience. I could not be happier about being a member of Underground Stampede, and look forward to what the future holds.”
Percussionist Michael Stuhr is from Colden, New York. He started playing drums at the age of five. He picked it up because both of his uncles Dave and Pete played as well. His influences growing up were Buddy Rich and Ricky Rockett who plays with Poison. His favorite drummer today is Jim Riley who plays with Rascal Flatts. He joined ELUS in 2010 to pursue his dream of playing in a band that was serious about performing music. “It was the best move I've ever made,” said Stuhr. “I have learned so much as a musician and person while being in this band. It has been an unbelievable experience for me. Special thanks to the band members and Linda, they are my family.”
|Bassist Chris “Chrispi” Skea. (Submitted Photo)|
When playing locally the band tries to give the audience the experience they want by playing songs they know the crowd would like to hear. They will play rock songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tragically Hip or if they have a more country friendly crowd they will play some Waylon Jennings, Toby Keith and Eric Church. The band has actually had the opportunity to open for Eric Church three times now.
“They all know that they are there to please the fans,” said Linda. “So, their most important objective to make sure everyone is having a good time.”
The band also recently had the opportunity to play a number of live shows in Nashville during the CMA Music Fest. There they played a total of eight live performances in a matter of three days at venues like the Cadillac Ranch and Tootsies. They were also able to sign autographs and meet fans at the CMA fan fair hall. And, they have been invited back to play during the 2012 CMA Music Fest.
“It was a great opportunity make some new fans because they would see them at one venue and follow them to the next,” said Linda. “They will be back there in February for the Country Radio Seminar week and also for the CMA Fan Fair in 2012.”
While not playing locally or in Nashville the band works with Grammy Nominated Producer Robert White Johnson who resides in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Their work with Johnson has bore fruit producing a recently released three song EP that was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee.
|Percussionist Michael Stuhr. (Submitted Photo)|
Johnson has worked with quite a few major recording artists. So, in order for him to work with musicians he has to be inspired by them. And, ELUS possess qualities that immediately drew him to work with the band.
“There are a number of reasons I decided to work with Everett and the band,” said Johnson. “First, there really aren't a whole lot of great 'live' bands left these days. It was encouraging to see/hear them out there doing their thing. A lot of artists these days want to be singers/artists/performers, but rarely take the time and invest the energy to put together a band and do shows. It's a huge undertaking! That initially got my attention. Second, Everett (Bud), is a very good writer with great ideas. He's a natural at it, and I've told him so many times. When we get together, we always seem to come up with great things. We're actually working on/finishing up some new songs right now I'm very excited about! I've been doing this for quite a while now, and unless an idea is inspired, I have trouble getting motivated. That's never a problem when we sit down to write. Third, Everett has a great stage persona that in turn makes the songs come alive when he performs. Something happens when the guy hits the stage! It's this whole other thing/person that comes alive. The band also gives it right back to him. It's really fun to see when it all comes together the way it does! Most true artists 'live' for that moment. I've been blessed to have worked with several major artists in my life, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that it's what they all live for.”
Johnson has had quite a great amount of fun throughout his musical career. He started his first band in fifth grade, and has been in or worked with bands ever since.
“In producing a band, it allows me to get back to my own roots, and to share what I've learned over the years in the hope of bringing the right encouragement and direction,” said Johnson. “Some producers will attempt to try and make artists into what they desire. In my mind, I'm there to bring out the strengths that already exist, and build upon them. With Everett Lee and Underground Stampede, I recognized their style as country, rock with blues. I would never try and alter it. First, because I love the style and second, because it's who they are. The public knows quickly whether something's authentic or not. I merely desire to help take them to the next level so they can build and grow upon it.”
|Robert White Johnson. (Submitted Photo)|
For Johnson, choosing a favorite song on the new EP has been kind of a tough thing to do.
“While they're all stylistically in a good place because of Everett's recognizable vocal, there's not one song that totally sums it up,” said Johnson. “At first I might say “Attitude” ... a song that Everett wrote, because it's with such great attitude that he sells it. On the other hand, I might have to say “Lookin' Down On The Moon”, a song that I wrote with Johnny and Donnie Van Zant that Bud (Everett) interpreted so incredibly well! That song rocks hard, but also has serious country and blues elements. Stay tuned however... the new material/tracks we're working on continue the theme, but even take it to yet another level. This will be one heck of a record when it's all said and done!”
On the recently released EP, the song “Attitude” was composed by Everett Lee and Keith Medley (Dunkirk native) and “Long Gone and Forgotten” was composed by John Landry. All three of the songs are available free to listen online by visiting undergroundstampede.com and clicking on the Listen to link. The songs are also available for purchase on Itunes.
ELUS and Linda have also enjoyed their working relationship with Johnson and always look forward to seeing him.
“It's been a great opportunity to work with Robert,” said Linda. “Everett and him have really hit it off and they blend together really well. And, we've become good friends. Whenever we go down there we always have a really good time.”
To learn more about Robert White Johnson visit robertwhitejohnson.com.
ELUS' next live performance will be at the Derby American Legion for the bands Christmas Party. Prizes like merchandise will be given away to fans. It starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, December 17. They will also be featured on a radio interview and live performance at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday December 15 at WBNY 91.3 FM. For more information visit wbnylocalshow.com or wbny.org. The show will also be re-broadcast on Saturday, December 17 from 7 to 11 p.m. on 88.9 FM WCVF (Fredonia, NY).