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Coltrain: Next Stop-Nashville

  Coltrain
 

When one thinks of where great country music originates, the state of Idaho is probably pretty far down on the list – or not on the list at all. Hmmm…let’s see, Idaho…Famous Potatoes, sure; Hells Canyon, okay; bastion for wealthy Californians fleeing the rat race, yep. Heck, Idaho is even home to one of the best alternative rock bands around – Built To Spill. But country music? To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever written a song entitled “Streets of Pocatello.”

A little ol’ country band from Lewiston, Idaho, is making some serious noise in the country music business. Coltrain – Kelly Seidel (Fiddle, Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Steel Guitar, Vocals), Earl Wear (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Jeff Johnson (Bass), Bob Buell (Lead, Guitar, Lead Vocals), and Stanny Nidbalski (Drums), are on the brink of taking their music to the next level – we’re talking Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, even trading stories with Bill Anderson on his “Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry” television show – of course, trying not to stare at his uh, hair too long.

Since forming in 1996, Coltrain has slowly but surely chipped away at the omnipresent armor of Nashville. After laying waste to their competition in both the local and regional “Country Showdown” competitions that same year, they moved on to the national finals in Orlando, FL, and placed sixth in the nation – out of over 10,000 artists.

The heart of their live sound system is a SR24•4-VLZ, which they’ve owned for over two years. “We were using a big Bi-Amp mixer, it took four guys to lift that mixer up on top of our rack!” Seidel says. Portability aside, he is more than happy with the mixer. Seidel adds, “I did a lot of research into Mackie mixers, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re the best mixers on the market.”

Kind words indeed, but coming from Seidel, they carry a lot of weight. Besides his multi-instrument position in Coltrain, Seidel is the owner of Seidel Music and Repair in Lewiston, Idaho. Since he opened shop in 1986, he has not only offered the best deals on gear for musicians in the area – he has become one of the most respected and well-trusted audio repair technicians in Idaho.

Coltrain LiveColtrain plays a lot of gigs. “We are busy 52 weeks a year,” adds Seidel. They have opened for Diamond Rio, The Oak Ridge Boys, Martina McBride, Collin Raye, and Deana Carter, just to name a few. They travel all over the Western United States playing fairs, and while most of the larger fairs provide a sound company, many of the medium-sized and smaller fairs do not. This never worries Seidel – Coltrain always brings their own sound system to every fair they play, and for good reason: “We played in Coos Bay, (Oregon), and there was supposed to be a sound company (there). We got there and there was no sound company, no PA system, so we set our stuff up and half an hour after we started playing the sound company showed up. It was too late. We were already set up playing on our own equipment – and we kind of like it better that way, because we always know what we’ve got.”

Their SR24•4-VLZ has proven to be a reliable, road-worthy workhorse, not only going on the road with the band, but also serving duty week in and week out at their local house gig. On stage, Coltrain uses wireless ear monitors, but Seidel came up with a unique way to combine an on stage side-fill monitor mix with the ear monitors. “We sub out of the inserts on our five vocal (channels) into a little mixer, power amp and cross-stage monitors,” he says. “So we have separate control over vocals coming out of the cross-stage monitors, as well as our individual monitor mix in our wireless ear monitors.”

Coltrain released their debut CD, “Walking to Wyoming,” in January 2001. It has been receiving airplay in the Northwest, as well as California, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania. The CD was recorded and mixed on a Mackie 24•8 console at Guitar Friend’s Productions in Moscow, Idaho. When asked if he was happy with the results Seidel responded in his usual humility, “Well, there are some things I would do different, because I’m my own worst critic. I think, ‘Gosh, I would have done this different, that different…’ but the overall sound we were able to get with the Mackie was amazing – I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”

The CD includes six songs penned by Bob Regan, a well renowned Nashville songsmith, who has written songs for Terry Clark, Wade Hayes, Diamond Rio, and Trisha Yearwood, among others. He had ten songs he either wrote or co-wrote in the top ten last year. These are huge credentials. Seidel isn’t the least bit phased by the Nashville juggernaut, although he knows the odds are stacked up against a band getting a break as opposed to a solo artist. “A lot of times marketing a band is much harder because you have five members, five different directions, five different attitudes. They’ll take a solo artist, mold him, bend him, give him a band from Nashville and just stick him out there.”

And he’s not one to get caught up in the hype of all this recent attention, and will most likely keep a well-adjusted attitude towards Coltrain’s future. “I watched a documentary on TV about Buck Owens,” he says. “He went to Nashville and his words were quote, ‘I didn’t like their heavy handed ways,’ so he went back to Bakersfield and did his own thing and became very successful doing what he knew how to do best.” And no matter what the future holds for Coltrain, Seidel will continue doing what he knows how to do best: Writing and performing great country music for years to come.

 

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