By Kristi Kates
Musicians John Merchant and Greg Miller met while working at a music store in Muskegon and teaching guitar. They formed the band known as Dutch Henry basically to have an outlet for our songwriting, Miller says.
Focusing at first on being what Miller calls a dyed-in-the-wool alt-country band, the groups first album was compared to Steve Earl and Jason and the Scorchers, and made a decent dent on college and XM radio; but changes were on the way.
When we started to work and tour a little more, he continues, John asked his old band mate Todd Long to play drums after his current band, Molly, was disbanded.
Today, with Wood long gone and new members Todd Long and Ryan Goldner in place, their newest album, All That Space, sees Dutch Henry morphing into more of a pop band with country influences.
We were all listening to Fountains of Wayne and The Thrills, and thats what came out, Miller says.
FROM XM TO HP
Most of the past couple of years have been spent touring both nationally and regionally in support of All That Space, with songs from the album popping up again on XM radio as well as Sirius and Last.fm. To add to the bands accomplishments, HP computers snagged three Dutch Henry songs for the ad campaign for their HP Pavilion computers, including the sets title track.
And, perhaps even more importantly for Miller, theyve gained the respect of their musical peers, too.
Although weve yet to achieve American Idol style exposure, Miller chuckles, I think weve all been flattered and encouraged by the respect and support that weve gotten from people higher up in the music biz. Its a real boost to moral to have our songwriting and musicianship respected by performers as diverse as Vinne Dombroski of Sponge and Robert Reynolds of the Mavericks. To be treated as a peer or pet project by these people is very gratifying.
REFINING A SOUND
Miller says the bands originals are getting more and more attention during their live shows, with a few select covers mixed in for fun.
We play what we like, Miller says, but nothing is over-produced or synthetic. We like songs that tell a small story in a well-crafted three minutes and 50 seconds.
Since Dutch Henry added their most recent member, bass player Ryan Goldner, Miller says theyve been refining both their overall sound and their stage presence.
The audience at their upcoming Traverse City shows can expect this ambitious band to make the best of their two diverse pop/country musical personalities.
Live, Id like to think we make those two ends meet, Miller says.
The band is a little more streamlined now, with three vocalists and songwriters rather than four, he continues, and well be recording new material in the next few months for a new Dutch Henry release this year.
Dutch Henry will be performing at The Loading Dock in Traverse City on April 22 and 23. For more info on the band, visit www.dutchhenrymusic.com.