War Hippies, a brand new country duo featuring combat veterans and longtime musicians Scooter Brown and Donnie Reis, will take the stage Saturday at FarmJam in Colville.
The three-day music and camping festival is held on a working farm and connects music lovers with bands, farmers, ranchers and the local community while showcasing the indie music scene.
The Scooter Brown Band played the festival last year and returns with a special performance by War Hippies, the duo Brown and Reis launched earlier this year.
“Donnie and I met a few years ago and started hanging out during COVID,” said Brown. “Neither of us could tour, but I asked him if he wanted to play at a benefit with me in Nashville.”
Their connection and chemistry wowed the crowd and War Hippies ushered in a new era for the veteran performers whose military service provided an instant bond.
Reis, an Ohio native, recalled the first time he saw a violin in person.
“They brought the orchestra to my elementary school when I was in fourth or fifth grade,” he said. “I begged my parents for a violin. I can still remember how it smelled.”
His musical aspirations were sidelined after the Sept. 11 attack.
“I was attending Miami University on a full-ride music scholarship when the towers went down,” he said. “I went to the dean of students and told him I’m going to serve my country.”
He served in the US Army from 2001-2009, including a combat tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-05.
When he came home, he returned to music, traveling around the world with various artists and producing and writing music for film and television. He owns Twelve 3 South Recording studio in Nashville.
Brown discovered his voice while serving in the Marines.
“A buddy was playing guitar and I thought it was pretty cool,” he said.
He picked it up and was soon playing every minute he wasn’t training. When his friend heard him sing, he told Brown to sing louder.
Brown served four years and 3 months in the Marine Corps, including two tours overseas and a combat tour in Iraq. He had planned to make the military his career, he said, “but I fell in love with music and writing songs.”
After leaving the Marines, the Colorado native moved to Texas and formed the Scooter Brown Band. He then relocated to Tennessee where the band caught the attention of Charlie Daniels.
“Charlie Daniels took me under his wing,” he said.
Brown released his album “American Son” in 2017, with Daniels on the title track, and debuted at the Grand Ole Opry in 2019.
An interview he did with People magazine inspired the new duo’s name.
“I described myself as a ‘war hippie,’ ” Brown said. “I’ve got long hair and I love nature, but I’m a fighter inside.”
Their single “Killing It” garnered attention and a second single “The Hangman” was released in July. Presales for their first album, the self-titled “War Hippies,” was set to begin at the end of August.
Both musicians say they’re energized by their new collaboration.
“Donnie brings so much to the table,” said Brown. “Our sound is different. Nobody else out there is doing quite what we’re doing.”
War Hippies has become known for their engaging live performance and tight harmonies.
“We both write and contribute, which is really fun,” Reis said. “Our songs are the stories of our lives.”
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