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SAWYER BROWN

"TALKIN' 'BOUT YOU (what the critics say)

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?  Sawyer Brown's 18th album available now!
June 2002; Amazon.com; Bob Allen
 
After 20 years and 18 albums Sawyer Brown, country's rowdy twentysomething party boys of the '80s and early '90s, have become downright serious in middle age. In fact, their fine new collection could easily be subtitled SB Get Soulful & Sentimental. Sure, lead singer Mark Miller and his bandmates still know how to boogie, and they boogie in spades on spirited but tender raves like "I Need a Girlfriend" and "She's an I've Got to Have You Girl." Yet Miller, also the group's principal songwriter, confidently leads the band into deeper waters on songs like the philosophical "Circles" (one of five cuts cowritten by Dave Loggins), the anguished title track (cowritten by Loggins and Miller), a gospel ode called "I Got a Plan" (Miller/Loggins), and an earnest blue-collar anthem penned by Jamie Hartford called "Hard Hard World."

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SAWYER BROWN SHOWS WHY IT'S SUCH A HOT ACT
07-04-1993; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Author: Louise King

It felt like 95 degrees in the shade, but that didn't stop Sawyer Brown from delivering its usual high-energy show Saturday afternoon under the Arch. The Nashville-based band, known for blurring the boundaries between country music and rock 'n' roll, kicked off the long list of pop music concerts scheduled for this year's VP Fair celebration with a rousing set that featured many of its best-loved hits.   The hourlong performance was a testament to why this group is one of the biggest draws in contemporary country music. Sawyer Brown combines toe-tappin' rhythms and singable melodies with a dynamic stage presence that makes watching this band as enjoyable as listening to it. Much of the credit should go to lead singer Mark Miller, who had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, mostly because of his provocative, Elvis-like dance moves, but also because of his friendly demeanor that came out in the form of easy banter. He often milked the audience reaction for all it was worth, as when he prompted the crowd into giving a louder ovation for "The Dirt Road." One might have considered this behavior a bit arrogant, had it not been for the quality of Miller's performance. His husky voice was rich and full of that deep, earthy tone one doesn't usually find in the new crop of country bands. He demonstrated excellent range on such tunes as "Shakin' " and readily bridged the gap between the traditional, nearly yodeling vocals of "Cafe on the Corner" to the rockin' side of country on the group's latest single, "Thank God For You." Lead guitarist Duncan Cameron and bassist Jim Scholten also got a chance to shine, especially on "Step That Step," a toe-tappin', hand-clappin' number that urged the crowd to its feet for one of several singalongs. The momentum continued with a cover of the classic "The Race Is On" featuring outstanding boogie woogie piano playing by keyboardist Gregg Hubbard. When it was time to slow the pace for ballads like "All These Years," even drummer Joe Smyth had no trouble shifting gears to deliver a muted, yet vibrant percussion performance, while Cameron added a delicate touch on acoustic guitar. When the band returned for its first encore, a moving rendition of "The Walk," Miller took a break from dancing to concentrate on the "lump in the throat" lyrics of the emotional ballad. Capping things off with the show-stopping "Some Girls Do," Sawyer Brown demonstrated once and for all why it's such a popular stage act.

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DRIVING REIGN: SAWYER BROWN KINS OF GIVING IT THEIR ALL
06-19-2000; The Dallas Morning News; Author: Mario Tarradell / Staff Critic

FORT WORTH - If work ethic means anything in today's image-conscious world of country music, then Sawyer Brown should be at superstar status.
The members of the veteran band - from wiry frontman Mark Miller to ace guitarist Duncan Cameron - tore up the Billy Bob's Texas stage Saturday night as if they were hungry newcomers eager to prove their staying power. For more than an hour, they offered an entertaining and sometimes engrossing array of hits amassed through nearly 19 years of recording. Joined by two supplemental players (a guitarist and percussionist), the five-man band kicked off the set with "Hard to Say," "Six Days on the Road" and "This Time." That meant that Mr. Miller, Nashville' s original crazy dancer, blazed onto the platform ready to move.  At one point during the latter half of the concert, the lean Mr. Miller was just about out of breath. The song was the grooving "Thank God for You," which followed an energetic rendition of "The Boys and Me." Well, even the best of them get tired. He ended up spitting out a few words with the intensity of a basketball player about to leap for a dunk shot. It's Mr. Miller's spontaneity that demands attention. He's prone to burst into uncontrollable spins, gyrations and shuffling steps spurred on by the allure of a contagious beat. Nothing looks choreographed. His dancing is the result of years of performances.
The same can be said for the band's musicianship. This is a group of guys so comfortable with one another that playing in tight tandem is an afterthought. Keyboardist Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard, bassist Jim Scholten and drummer Joe Smyth blend seamlessly with Mr. Cameron's fiery picking. And they do it with impressive focus. There's no posturing here, no celebrity fanfare. Sawyer Brown, once winners of television's Star Search contest, has evolved as an entity since that dubious early '80s distinction.   By 1992, with the release of The Dirt Road, the band matured. Its sound took on a rootsier tone thanks to the use of mandolins and acoustic guitars. "Cafe on the Corner," with Mr. Cameron strumming a mandolin, got the serious, reflective reading it deserved. So did "The Walk," the touching story about the passing of generations that transformed the band into artists, not just entertainers. Then, with the group bathed in blue spotlights, came the Grammy-nominated "All These Years."   It was Mr. Miller's finest vocal turn. He took his time singing the song, quiet and absorbing, all the while letting those devastating lyrics resonate throughout the club. No other ballad was as powerful, certainly not "Treat Her Right" or the '70s pop nugget "This Night Won't Last Forever."   Back to the up-tempo material: A medley-style gathering of career- launching staples - "Step That Step," "Betty's Bein' Bad" and "Shakin' " - was a hoot. Sure, those songs are catchy throwaways, but they proved that the group has come a long way. By the time it encored with the sunny, Beach Boys-inspired "Drive Me Wild," Sawyer Brown had made its message clear: Music is supposed to put a smile on your face.

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SAWYER BROWN PUTS MARS STAGE IN ORBIT
01-15-2000; The Palm Beach Post by: Louis Hillary Park, Staff Writer

Get a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with gas - high octane, if you want to do it right. Take it to a stage, kick it over and strike a match. Whooom! Then tell Mark Miller, "You're on."   That gives you some idea of the sort of energy that Sawyer Brown and Miller, the band's founder and high-velocity lead singer, bring to road shows, such as the one they played Thursday night at the newly renamed MARS Music Amphitheatre at the South Florida Fairgrounds in suburban West Palm Beach.   Miller sizzled and skittered across the stage from the start, his shaved head glistening, as the band gunned its way through a catalog of its high speed hits - Six Days on the Road, This Time and I Don' t Believe in Good-bye. On the joyous (This Thing Called) Wantin' and Havin' it All, the sing-and-shout gospel rhythms of Miller's Pentecostal upbringing in Apopka set toes to tapping. Miller and keyboardist Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard went to high school together in Apopka, and their longtime relationship is evident in the comfortable precision with which the band plays.  Some of the evening's best moments came when Sawyer Brown throttled back its drum-heavy beat and trusted Hubbard's glassy piano notes as the main underpinning for the ballads This Night Won't Last Forever and Treat Her Right. Despite Miller's jitterbug antics and his 5-foot-9 frame, when he settles down and embraces the microphone his voice packs a husky punch that can get you right in the ribs. Or in the heart, as with All These Years, the band's unblinking take on a crumbling marriage.  It also was on All These Years that lead guitarist Duncan Cameron showed his versatility, gently fingering his way through a tender acoustic intro. But hot Southern rock licks were Cameron's main contribution - cooking on The Boys and Me and Some Girls Do - as he did his best to make his fingers match Miller's energy even if his body couldn' t.

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K.C.'s DISCO IS TIRED, BUT SAWYER BROWN SHOWS ENERGY
08-30-2000; Minneapolis Star Tribune; Author: Jon Bream

On Monday, teen pop princess Christina Aguilera set a State Fair record for the highest-grossing show at the grandstand. On Tuesday, the fair set another grandstand record - the oddest double bill. K.C. & the Sunshine Band and Sawyer Brown. What's up with that? Disco and country? As Harry (K.C.) Casey, 49, explained during his opening set, Sawyer Brown singer Mark Miller used to work at Disney World and drive Casey around when he performed there. Ah, small world. On Tuesday, K.C. & the Sunshine Band were introduced as ``celebrating 25 years - and still the No. 1 party band.'' Well, if you want to party on a cruise ship with a bunch of tired ol' baby boomers. Casey' s voice was plain and much deeper than it was in the '70s. He wasn' t forceful on the party tunes, and on the ballads, he came across like Bill Murray's parody of a lounge singer. The biggest problem with the 65-minute show was that the disco tunes were monotonous, mostly devoid of musical changes. The sole highlight was the giant video screen superimposing a disco ball over a dancer during ``That's the Way I Like It,'' during which K.C. mixed in hip-hop and Latin music to update the party sounds. During Sawyer Brown's ensuing performance, Miller ad-libbed two lines a cappella from K.C.'s ``Get Down Tonight,'' which were more exciting than K.C.'s entire set. In his 80 minutes onstage, Miller, 41, proved to be a hyperkinetic, fun-loving and fun-creating frontman. He easily has the best stage moves in country music. He was a dancing fool - spinning, strutting, stomping, shaking, shimmying, prancing, twisting, locking and popping, swimming and doing a killer impression of early Elvis dancing. And then he played peekaboo with the spotlight by hiding behind a metal pillar. Sawyer Brown offered a mix of country and rock oldies as well as its own rockers and pop tunes with lyrics about traditional, small- town values. It was a nonstop good time, even if Miller's deep baritone often got lost in the spirited mix. Highlights included the sing-along ``Thank God for You,'' the ``Dirt Road,'' and the rousing encore of ``Drive Me Wild,'' ``Some Girls Do'' and Bachman Turner Overdrive's ``Takin' Care of Business.'

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SAWYER BROWN FANS WOULDN'T COME IN OUT OF THE RAIN
09/17/1996; Kansas City Star

Several thousand die-hard country fans braved hours of drenching rain Sunday night at Sandstone Amphitheatre to watch seven country acts. Good thing the bands paid off. The warmth of Sawyer Brown's lyrics and [Mark] Miller's presentation almost made up for the cold, damp air. It's hard not to be sentimental about the sweet sadness of ``Cafe on the Corner'' or ``The Walk'' or ``All These Years.'' Lots of country bands celebrate rural America and family values, but Sawyer Brown has a delicate touch to the way it handles those topics that puts it above most others.

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SAWYER BROWN CLOSES FAIR ON A HIGH NOTE, BAND REWARDS FANS WHO LINED UP EARLY WITH POWERFUL SET
07/18/99: Peoria Journal Star

PEORIA -- What a way to close the Heart of Illinois Fair! It just doesn't get any better than Sawyer Brown. The high-energy band took center stage at the HOI Fair Saturday night, and it was obvious that the crowd was more than ready.

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SAWYER BROWN DRIVES NEW YORK WILD
no date; CountryVoice.com; Author unknown

The threat of rain didn't keep the people away. And after seeing them in concert it was easy to see why. Thousands of people turned out at the World Trade Center to hear Y107's Free Lunch Concert Series because this group was here to entertain - and the lunchtime crowd was not disappointed. And one note into their first song Hard To Say was easy to see why. Because one note into their first song and lead singer Mark Miller was already dancing his magic on the stage. With the World Trade Center as their backdrop Sawyer Brown spent close to 90 minutes performing their greatest hits - and they have over 30 to choose from.  Some groups just stand on stage and perform their music, while their lead singer just holds the microphone singing the words to the songs. Not Mark Miller, with the exception of a couple of slower ballads, Mark spent the entire time dancing, running, jumping, spinning, shaking, twisting, and sliding across the stage. By the time it was over, his khaki colored slacks were obviously soaked with sweet and I was exhausted from watching. I think the rest of the crowd was too. But we were all thrilled.  After singing This Time Mark said, "We're gonna do this song for all the New York City farmers, and went into Cafe On The Corner. For Cafe Duncon Cameron switched from lead guitar to mandolin, which drew applause from this crowd made up of Brooks Brothers suits, jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and anything in between. No one in this audience looked out of place. There was even the usual contingent of line dancers.
But this time the line dancers lost out - because with Mark's dancing on stage, Sawyer Brown is a group that must be seen to be appreciated. But with the exception of the slower songs like The Walk and Michael Johnson's This Life Won't Last Forever, Mark would continue his antics on stage with the other band members occasionally joining in the animation.
And Sawyer Brown does more than just perform their songs. There was also the bantering with each other and the audience. Keyboard player Gregg Hubbard announced his political intentions drawing laughter and delight from the crowd, "Even though I'm not from New York, I'm here to announce my Senate bid." Then after one woman in the crowd attempted to imitate Mark's dancing skills, Gregg offered her $20. She politely ran to the stage, took the money, grabbed Gregg by the neck and proceeded to plant a kiss on him.  Sawyer Brown performed songs like their first No. 1 hit Step That Step to their latest hit Drive Me Wild and their newest single I'm In Love With Her. The list of songs they performed continued with Six Days On The Road, I Don't Believe In Goodbye, (This Thing Called) Wantin' And Havin' It All, Betty's Bein' Bad and on The Dirt Road Mark actually had enough energy to pick up a guitar and join in.  What amazed me and I think the rest of the crowd is that their encore must have lasted 15 minutes. Sawyer Brown, with Mark Miller soaked from perspiration, continued to perform their more upbeat songs. The Boys And Me, Thank God For You The Race Is On, and when they performed Some Girls Do, Mark added New York girls do to the cheers of the crowd. And with the plaza shaking from the people dancing along with Mark, Sawyer Brown closed the show with BTO's Takin' Care Of Business. But not much business was done while Sawyer Brown performed because they performed past 1:30. And for many of the people in the crowd, their lunch hour was long over.  Where Mark got his energy from was beyond me. But even more puzzling was that after seeing Sawyer Brown perform live, I can't understand why they don't win Entertainer of the Year every year. When the concert was finally over, I was glad, not because I wanted them to stop performing, but I needed a break from watching Mark jump around the stage. I was exhausted. Folks, there are still more Y107 concerts planned for this summer, but the only one that I could think of who would equal the talents that Sawyer Brown displayed would be Neal McCoy. I'm sure one that is looking forward to seeing for myself.

SMALL TALK (about our boys)

Home | THE HITS LIVE! (tour schedule) | SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD (concert pictures from the road) | 2006 Days on the Road | THE BOYS & ME (the fans with the boys) | EVERY LITTLE THING (the 411 on the boys in the band) | ALL THESE YEARS | SMALL TALK (about our boys) | THANK GOD FOR YOU (what the fans say) | "TALKIN' 'BOUT YOU (what the critics say) | MARK | HOBIE | SHAYNE | JOE JOE | JIM | I BELIEVE (the Awards) | ANOTHER SIDE (those behind the band) | WIDE OPEN (Other Sawyer Brown Sites) | Mark & Beach Street Records | Casting Crowns | Josh Bates | Next-Door Hero | Contact Me

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