Long Live the Queen
Six Mile Grove
It all started in the small town of Lyle, MN (pop. 500) with a skid loader and a fence post, when Six Mile Grove frontman Brandon Sampson was 7 years old. He injured his hand when helping his dad on the family farm. The physician recommended guitar playing for rehabilitation, and a few weeks later, Sampson came home from the music store with a new guitar. His younger brother Brian threw a fit, and was appeased with a shiny drum set. And so the seeds of Six Mile Grove were planted.
The brothers spent years pounding away on their instruments in the kitchen of their great grandmother’s old house, as well as singing in church with their mom, an organist and devoted music lover. Soon Brian’s friend Barry, from across the woods, wanted to join the noise, and so his years of piano lessons began paying off. The boys realized they would need a bass player, put an ad in the paper, and dug up Dezi Wallace from the “big city” of Austin, MN, who arrived courtesy of his mom, as he did not yet have a driver’s license.
Fast forward 20 years, and Six Mile Grove has a lot to be proud of. They have weathered the ever changing music scene as a primarily self-managed, self-produced, and self-recorded band. Their music has evolved accordingly, as an organic, honest voice that has not been tinkered with or tainted by the lure of record labels or flashy music producers. You’re sure to find influences of Minnesota music’s founding fathers; from Bob Dylan to the Jayhawks. Six Mile Grove honors it’s roots, but has also managed to forge it’s own sound and space on a stage without compromise. In addition, their friendship, touring and recording with legendary Johnny Cash guitarist Bob Wootton, has lended even more distinctly to their “good all-American boy” sound and style.
Six Mile Grove is releasing it’s seventh album this Summer 2017. In this album, Sampson muses on the responsibilities of providing for a family, keeping love alive, and fighting for what’s right in the world. These themes resonate with all the members of the band, as guys with day jobs, wives and kids. You’ll hear the whines and growls in Nelson’s piano and lead guitar licks; the take-it-easy pace of Wallace’s bass, the newly added color of John Wheeler’s steel guitar and the simple to furious tempos in Brian Sampson’s drums.
As Wootton states, “There’s nothing fancy about them and they don’t try to be something they’re not. And that’s what I like about them.”
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Published: Sunday, August 30, 2009
Small town charm presented by Minnesota’s own Six Mile Grove hit the Pioneer Place main stage on Thursday, August 27.
Hailing from Lyle, Minn., Six Mile Grove has established themselves as a world-renowned alt-country act since their beginnings in 1997.
Formed by brothers Brandon and Brian Sampson along with Barry Nelson dangerously close to the Iowa border, Six Mile Grove was changed forever after bass player Dezi Wallace arrived at their family’s practice space.
Taking the 10-mile ride from nearby Austin, Minn., Wallace arrived with his mother.
The Sampsons began to play music at a young age as well.
Brandon Sampson began to play guitar at the age of nine after he was temporarily disabled in a farming accident.
“My brother (Brian) threw a fit because I got a guitar at the music store,” Brandon said in an interview before the performance Thursday.
Soon enough, Brian got his own shiny new drum set and the core of Six Mile Grove was created.
Looking at the band now, one could never have guessed that they started practicing in grandma’s basement just this side of nowhere.
The band has had the opportunity to play at the Lion’s Den in Greenwich Village and the Avalon Theatre in Maryland.
Their love of playing in theatres has brought them to the Pioneer Place in downtown St. Cloud.
Two of the band members – Barry Nelson and Brian Sampson – now call Minneapolis home. Six Mile Grove’s latest album, entitled Steel Mule, was recorded in Barry’s basement in Spring, 2009.
Tracks from the album have been played on radio stations as far away as Belgium.
BBC country music personality Ralph McLean has noticed the band all the way from Scotland.
“They have specific alt-country shows where they listen and talk about the music.
I think they have a fan base of around 700,000,” Brandon said. The band owes a lot of their international success to the web, Brandon notes.
“The internet – if it ever catches on – would be a pretty cool tool for bands,” Brandon said jokingly.
The band has had the opportunity of touring and backing legendary guitarist Bob Whooton, who was Johnny Cash’s guitar player for 30 years.
Six Mile Grove toured with Whooton for one year, which tremendously influenced Six Mile Grove’s attitude toward music, Brandon explained.
“He kinda kick-started us into writing a new kind of music that was thoughtful and where people actually listened,” he said.
Six Mile Grove plans to play in St. Cloud are more frequently, especially now that school is back in session.
“We’re gonna try and come up here more often,” Brandon said.
Heather Ritenour firstname.lastname@example.org
Band Member Contact:
Brandon Sampson email@example.com : Lead vocal, acoustic guitar
Dezi Wallace firstname.lastname@example.org : Bass guitar
Barry Nelson email@example.com : Keyboards, electric guitar, vocals
Brian Sampson firstname.lastname@example.org : Percussion
John Wheeler email@example.com : Pedal steel guitar, dobro, accordian