...can deter TelluRide, an energetic group of five, formed of old buddies, new faces and family alike, who've come together and etched their groove into the world of music.
"Adam, Brian and I had a group together before we formed this one,” says Cain Hall, an Indiana native. "We left that one and we met Jimi and Ryan. We all knew each other kind of already from playing around town with other artists."
Ryan Jones and Adam Craig had in fact performed together as children in their old family farmhouse in Washington State. "Growing up, I wanted to be a pro-baseball player." Adam recalls. "But I had this cousin (Ryan Jones) who always came over and played piano and just rocked. Ryan had, however moved to Tennessee and was in the right place at the right time when I came to Nashville to begin my music career."
Then came the search for a bass player and who better than Jimi Hendrix? Jimi Hendrix of Columbia, South Carolina, that is.
Brian Smith, of Washington, tells of their find. "Before Jimi even walked in, we were looking at the names and I called him before to confirm. He walks in, he’s 6’8, and he had that deep voice and he's like, 'Man, my name is Jimi Hendrix'. I was like, ' I don’t even care if he can play; he’s in the band. It's Jimi Hendrix, dude.' Then he plays and its like 'Oh come on'. He’s badass. "
"He was a Jedi," Adam quips.
And the Force certainly seemed to be strong with them. After playing together only two years, and with no record yet out, they can be heard on radio stations and opening for the stars of Nashville.
Brian tells of one of their first experiences over the airwaves. "We were going through Minnesota and we hear, 'Here’s a song by TelluRide, called Kansas City Green', and everyone just kinda pops up like, 'What?!'."
"I actually scared an elderly couple that night. I was so excited that Kansas City Green was on the radio that I screamed out the window." admits Adam.
"So we went and found the local radio station." Brian continues, "We meet with all local radio stations and deejays we can, 'cause those are the stations that ride new groups. It’s got to be one of our favorite things, because, when we drive through towns we just hit the scan button and find a radio station, country, rock, whatever, you hear the local deejays, and you always get to hear what’s going down in that area."
And this was just the beginning. They gained recognition quickly. Producer Rex Schnelle, who after hearing them play, knew he had something special. Brian explains, "In Nashville, a lot of times, the band members don’t get to record, because there are so many phenomenal studio guys in this town. But he called, said, 'We’ve seen you live, we love how you play, and your sound. I want to capture that in recording.' He's a big guitar guy, he’s worked with classics like Eric Johnson, did a record with Eric Johnson, so we’re going, 'He worked with Night Ranger!’ He comes in, brings just guitar stuff and we plug in. They’re like, 'Alright, let’s go', and that’s kinda how we put it together. We’ve been lucky we are recording, not only writing 98% of the material we play. "
Their success has not always been easy however, nor glamorous, but they let nothing stand in the way of them bringing their sound to eager listeners.
Brian says, "I can’t tell you how many things we’ve gone through, struggles, hard times and good times to get where we are at. There was a point (on the bus) where we lost all electricity because we ran over a deer. We went to the gas station and bought 4 little flashlights. We broke in the lights for the rear, took floss, and tied them inside and just turned the flashlights on, so it looked like we had lights. And we drove from West Virginia to Maryland to go play in Baltimore."
Jimi, "Stopping every two hours to buy batteries."
Brian, "We had to make the show. We have never missed a show. Ever."
And when given lemons they make... well, music.
"We were in Pickstown, South Dakota, we got done playing and all the power went out. We are stuck in our rooms, so I just mosey over to Adam’s room and walk in. He’s got the bathtub full of ice and beer. We get guitars out and pop some tops, and then along comes Jimi. All the sudden everybody’s in the room, and it was very cool vibe because there is no power. It’s like old school; candles and cell phone lights. So, we wrote and then recorded on a laptop this song called Pickstown South Dakota. Everybody in this band has their name on it. So you know it goes in the vault. You start getting ready to make your record, and you’re like 'Hey you remember this tune.' Man, the first time we got to play it live, we never played it together before, we’d only written it together, you play it your own way. Then to see people when we got done applause... whoa, man. Truth is, if you can’t sit about three beers deep on a back porch and sing your material and have it sound cool, then it’s not a good song."
Brian adds, "I’d never written a song lyric before and I have like 2 words in there, so I am thinking, 'Yeah'.
Luckily, the naming of the group didn't require strange circumstances for inspiration. "When we got signed to the label they said, 'We want a good name to fit you guys', and so we sent out to all our fans that we had built up in our fan club and said, 'Whoever can name this band, we’ll bring you to Nashville, we’ll put you up at Opryland, bring you to one of the shows to hang out with us.’ A girl named Leslie from Missouri sent in the Tim McGraw song Telluride. It’s about a kid coming out of high school broke, and he is working in a ski town where everybody around him has got a ton of money, but he’s the guy working behind the counter. Me, Adam, and Ryan are all from Washington State; we grew up in the mountains. So that was our growing up. All these guys who can relate to being the kid who chose to walk the different way. Had to struggle, had to build up, and so we said, 'If it’s got all that and it’s in Colorado, we gotta take the name'."
Without the guidance and tough love of teachers and family, however, they likely might have not gotten to where they are today.
Jimi, in particular, remembers his teacher, Mr. Jerry Helton. "He was this guy, he was like a father to me but, I would come in and I’d be prepared and I would think I would be nailing this song, I’d sing it and sing it. And I’d get done and I'd be 'Man, that was awesome' and he’d be 'Well Jimi, that was terrible'. For four and a half years, I was in college and I got three compliments from him. I got three of the biggest compliments of my life from him. He didn’t compliment me because he didn’t need to tell me I was any good, he just needed to tell me what I needed to fix, what was wrong. And, so, he was the most frustrating teacher, but the best teacher 'cause he made me into who I am today.'
Knowing what a strong influence these patient men and women can have on younger minds, the band then takes their places, so that might yet another generation benefit from a long line of handed-down knowledge.
Brian especially enjoys the schoolroom atmosphere. "When we go on tour, a lot of times we go into local schools and we’ll go do clinics because I love teaching, and I can’t stop doing it. So, I brought these guys in and we teach them. Recently, we had a first grade class and they’re little guys, so you gotta be careful what you say, you know. We are giving examples of how we play and Ryan Jones here sticks a little cardboard cutout of a penguin on top of his keyboard to be funny. And boy, those kids, all they wanted to ask is why he had a penguin on his piano. And it was 30 minutes to try to get them to stop looking at the penguin. So then, to make up for it, he says, for an example to these cute little kids, 'Well, playing and singing is like rubbing your stomach and trying to tap your head.' All they were doing all day was rubbing their stomach and tapping their head, and each others."
He continues, "You want to talk about dreams with little kids. If you find something you love, if you stick with it and stay driven like we have, things will start happening. When it gets hard, that’s good, because that means you’re going on a field where there are great things that could happen. If it always easy, you know you’re not challenging yourself enough. So, we always feel, when it gets hard like that, something big will happen. We tell kids, we tell people our age, we tell older people, 'It’s what we are here for.' That’s Telluride in a nutshell. Follow your dreams."