Ten years ago, Sawyer Brown was everybody’s last choice as Band Most Likely to Succeed.
They sneaked through stardom’s back door by winning the national television talent show, “Star Search.” They had a cute singer who wore cute clothes and sang cute songs. Critics reviled them; radio refused to play them.
But fans don’t listen to critics and if television plays your videos - and Sawyer Brown’s act was made for video - there’s a good chance you’ll find your audience.
And that’s exactly what happened to Sawyer Brown. Buoyed by TV ready videos and powered by non-stop touring, the band built a loyal and hardy fan base. A core of diehards followed them from show to show and earned the band a reputation as the Grateful Dead of country music.
Before long, the critics quit criticizing long enough to see what the buzz was all about and discovered an admittedly lighthearted band that still managed to deliver the goods live. Singer Mark Miller is a one-of-a-kind performer with enormous charisma and the ability to appeal to both men and women.
About the same time that people in the business began listening, something else happened: a maturing Sawyer Brown began writing songs with some meat on their bones. Songs such as “The Walk,” “The Dirt Road,” “Cafe on the Corner” and “All These Years” reveal their more sober side.
Now, Sawyer Brown is one of a handful of country acts left over from a decade ago that have maintained their popularity.
The others include such giants as Alabama, Reba McEntire and George Strait.
That’s not to say that Sawyer Brown has sold as many records as their peers - Sawyer Brown remains predominantly a live band - but their staying power has been remarkable.
In 13 years, the group has released 14 records and logged 18 top-five singles and eight No. 1s.
This year, they pulled down Top Vocal Group honors from the Academy of Country Music’s honors and have won three Top Video awards from Country Music Television.
But the awards that say more than all the rest about Sawyer Brown are the five consecutive Top Vocal Band trophies they’ve garnered in the fan-voted Music City News competition.
“I am just so honored any time we receive an award from fan voting,” Miller said “…because I know they can vote for anybody they want to.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT Sawyer Brown performs Friday at 7 p.m. at the Silver Mountain Amphitheatre in Kellogg. Tickets: $27.50 and $21.50, available through G&B; outlets, 325-SEAT or (800) 325-SEAT
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