Homegrown music makers
Rindge base player and his band finding open doors in Nashville
Lead male vocalist Ed Leavitt of Claremont, left, base player Kevin Miller of Rindge, lead female vocalist Shana Stack of Keene, lead guitarist John Sanchez of Grantham and drummer Kurt Ekstrom of Chichester formed The Shana Stack Band about three years ago. They are touring throughout New England this July.
The Shana Stack Band's lead guitarist John Sanchez of Grantham at a recent performance.
Kevin Miller, who now lives in Rindge, remembers those late nights as a kid when he would hide a radio under his bed covers in order to listen to another hour of a favorite radio show when he was supposed to be sleeping. Music became an important part of his life at an early age, he said in a recent interview, and decades later it remains one of his greatest passions.
But Miller has come a long way since his childhood school days when he learned to play the clarinet, the saxophone and later the guitar. For the past three years, Miller has been the base player for a five-member country band, The Shana Stack Band, that on July 1 was honored by the Independent Country Music Association based in Nashville, Tenn., as “Fans Choice of the Year” and “Country Band of the Year.”
The band just released their third album, “Every Now and Then,” which pre-sold more than 100 copies before its release date in June. The band has scheduled 17 concert dates throughout New England this month, having previously opened for country music superstars Reba McEntire, Sugarland and Travis Tritt.
And on Aug. 2, the Shana Stack Band will add a new musical achievement to their list of accomplishments as the opening band for Rascal Flatts at Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook — an 8,000-seat amphitheater on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford.
For lead male vocalist Ed Leavitt of Claremont, a singer/songwriter for about 30 years, the Shana Stack Band’s success has been a blessing. The two recent awards the band received from the Independent Country Music Association of Nashville is a nod from the music industry, he said, and recognition of the band’s success not just in New England, but nationally.
“The key to setting yourself apart is creating original music,” Leavitt said, noting that a lot of New England bands cover popular songs because they’re in demand, but it’s important for a band to create its own material, too. “When people have never heard the song, but they’re singing along by the end, that’s an amazing feeling.”
Conrad Farnham of Claremont is the band’s manager, merchandiser, photographer, website designer and videographer, but that’s in addition to his day job as a finance specialist at Dartmouth College in Hanover. Farnham received his bachelor’s degree is accounting and finance from Franklin Pierce University in 2010, after taking classes as an adult learner through the university’s Lebanon campus.
Farnham, who has known Leavitt for many years, said Friday that when the Shana Stack Band formed about three years ago he was eager to help.
In addition to Leavitt and Miller, band members include lead female vocalist Shana Stack of Keene, lead guitarist John Sanchez of Grantham and drummer Kurt Ekstrom of Chichester.
“It’s a group effort that has really built this band,” Farnham said, adding that the band is not signed on with a major label and, therefore, creates and produces their albums independently. “They use only New Hampshire studios because it just makes sense. We want to keep the business in our state.”
And when the band isn’t busy touring New England, they stay active in their local communities. Miller and his wife, Marcie, moved to Rindge in 2005, looking for a quiet, rural town not too far away from where their daughter lives in Springfield, Mass.
The Millers are both members of the United Church of Christ and active volunteers for the Rindge Food Pantry and their town’s Welcome Table, which provides free home-cooked community suppers at the Rindge Meetinghouse on the fourth Monday of every month.
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.