If you think against-the-odds stories are only the stuff of holiday fables, you have yet to meet the Sons of Sylvia. How else to explain how three brothers—Ashley, Austin and Adam Clark—who videotaped a basement jam, landed on a 2007 Fox reality show Next Great American Band where they played songs including a blues-filled rendition of “Gimme Shelter” that arguably rivals the classic Rolling Stones version, beat out 10,000 or so other hopefuls and inked a deal with 19 Records/Interscope Records. Huh. They’re likely grads of Berklee College of Music in Boston or some other hoity-toity school for musical protégées, you might think. Not even close.
“We grew up with a really musical family. My dad started me on it,” said Austin of how his preacher dad sparked the brothers’ musical interests. “He gave me a few pointers and kind of took it there. My dad has always picked and played and it’s a passion of his and he kind of passed it on.”
Not to mention proficient. Of course, it’s tough to get any traction in the music industry if you don’t have a solid mentor and the brothers had one right in their own home.
“We had heroes, for sure, but I guess our father [was always the main one], influencing us and telling us [to] keep at it and making us do it,” he said. “We would go to bluegrass festival and play with [well known artists] and it was addicting even though we were really young at the time.”
The addiction led the brothers to individually ease into high-profile gigs with Carrie Underwood — a major fan and supporter of the band — and SheDaisy. But players come and go and these guys knew they had to roll the dice to stay in the game. So they taped the submission — as The Clark Brothers — right before the show’s deadline and sent it off.
“We started taking it really seriously right after we won Next Great American Band on Fox,” said Austin. “That experience was really such a growing and learning experience as writers and we wrote the whole record. It definitely was a time when we figured out how to express ourselves.”
In a major way.
Fast-forward to April 2009 when the brothers’ debut album Revelation was released and debuted at No. 33 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. A slot on Carrie Underwood’s “Play On” tour and a high-profile appearance on American Idol are among the other major successes the brothers can recount from this past year.
Expect plenty more ahead as songs from the album, including the first single “I’ll Know You“, continue to build momentum — and even more success — for the band.
“Every song is different,” said Austin of the writing process surrounding the single. “When you are writing some songs just pop out. [The song] “I’ll Know You” didn’t take long…We got together, we wrote it and walked in the next room and recorded it.”
See? Against-the-odds stories really do happen.
DEC 1: St. Louis, MO – Chaifetz Arena
DEC 2: Evansville, IN – Roberts Stadium
DEC 4: Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
DEC 5: Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls Arena
DEC 7: Rapid City, SD – Rushmore Plaza Civic Centre
DEC 8: Casper, WY – Casper Events Center
DEC 12: Bozeman, MT – Breedan Field House
DEC 14: Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley Sun Dome
DEC 15: Penticton, CAN – South Okanagan Events Centre
DEC 16: Vancouver, BC V6B 6G1, CAN – Rogers Arena
DEC 18: Edmonton, AB, CAN – Rexall Place
DEC 19: Calgary, CAN – Pengrowth Saddledome
By Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.