Brewer’s Grade Band continues to blaze their own trail bringing their unique brand of Northwest Country music to the next level. Band member Joe Smart’s recent Grammy win recognizing his work on the O’Connor Band’s “Coming Home” Album of the Year has led to some exciting opportunities to collaborate with music’s biggest names including Paul Simon and Zac Brown Band! This has helped build even more momentum for the group leading to the main stage at many of the west coast's top festivals and events, genre-bending studio sessions and co-writes, an independent film soundtrack credit and more opportunities to create and collaborate in the Northwest, Nashville and beyond! They continue to push the envelope and advance their role as one of the region's most sought after independent artists all while staying true to their Northwest Country roots.
The members of Brewer’s Grade Band are all life-long natives of the Pacific Northwest. More than 20 years have passed since lead singer Zac Grooms and drummer Cody Christopherson founded the first iteration of the band while still attending High School in the small Columbia River farm community of Arlington, OR. Brothers Al and Nolan Hare who later joined the band as lead and bass guitarists were born and raised just 50 miles downriver in The Dalles, OR. The group first met Joe Smart while recording at Rainmaker Studios near his home just up the river in Pasco, WA.
Grooms is the group’s primary songwriter. He began co-writing with his mother Susie Crosby during his early teen years, and was quickly recognized for his talents as he began performing throughout the region. Success in the Country Showdown competition led to Grooms first solo EP recorded in Nashville with some of the top session players of the time! The two songs released from the first trip to the studio still continue to play a large role in BGB’s live shows. “If I Had My Way” received enough airplay to climb all the way the #1 position on the independent charts. “Outta Time” has been used to close nearly every live show for the past 20 years, and received a refresher on the “Jumpin’ In” album in 2014. The depth and diversity of Zac’s songwriting paired with his confident stage presence and standout vocal abilities makes for a perfect centerpiece to build a band around.
It took some convincing at first for Cody Christopherson to put down his rock fist and start a country band, but ever since day one his style and attitude has been an integral component in the development of the band’s identity. His diverse musical taste is a key ingredient in creating the unique sound of Brewer’s Grade Band. To this day, he continues to devote the same tenacity that originally helped push the band to early success.
Al Hare has long been recognized as a dynamic multi-genre guitarists. A last minute fill in gig in 2004 made Al stand out as the perfect fit for the rising modern country band. He hasn’t missed a show since. Al continues to be a driving force in the local music scene, a popular guitar teacher, and one of the West Coast’s finest Country lead guitarists. His style and technique on stage and in the studio along with his contagious passion for every note he plays keeps pushing the group’s live and recorded performances to new heights.
Music has always been a focal point in the life of Nolan Hare. He first took the stage in his early school days and has rarely been a member of the audience since. Nolan has been all-in ever since joining the band in 2008. With years of experience as an on-air personality, a web designer, an event promoter and entertainment director and small business owner, his contributions on bass and vocals are only the tip of the iceberg of what he brings to the band’s table.
Joe Smart is a Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, studio musician, and producer who has been playing and performing music since the age of eight. He began on the guitar, moving on to the fiddle, mandolin, and recently taking up the banjo and resonator guitar. With influences from Bach to Van Halen and everything between, his musical style has been molded into a diverse amalgam of folk, blues, rock, jazz, and classical. Joe has performed all across the world and has worked with the biggest names in the business including Zac Brown Band, Paul Simon and Mark O’Connor. Joe joined Brewer’s Grade 2011 after a successful studio session.
Since the band’s inception all the way back in the Arlington High School days their number one goal has been to reach people with their original music. Through all of the twists and turns 20 years of life has brought, this same purpose continues to be the main driving force behind the continuing evolution of the band, and has undoubtedly shaped the content and style of their music for the better. They pride themselves in their ability to step onto any stage and entertain any audience with an authentic performance of music they have literally lived together rather than chosen out of a book at a publishing company. That is an achievement that no level of streams, sales, number of followers or any other standard unit of measuring success can come anywhere close to replicating.
If you ask any member of Brewer’s Grade Band what “Northwest Country” means, you’ll likely get a slightly different answer from each of them, but the common theme you’ll hear will be that it is a personal expression of their life experiences as seen through the lens of music. It isn’t pigeon holed into being defined as a sub-genre, or specific sound or recipe for success. For them it is simply a lifestyle; and one they thoroughly enjoy and love to share!
Their home base of the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, is a major hub for outdoor lifestyle and activity with year-round opportunities for epic outdoor adventures. Mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, rainforest, desert scenic vistas and wildlife can all be found just moments away from wherever you are. Locally inspired food, beer, wine, spirits, and coffee all abound. The region is rich with historical treasures from Native American culture, to Lewis & Clark’s expedition, the Oregon Trail, and so much more! You don’t have to look far for inspiration in a place like this.
As Brewer’s Grade Band continues to push to expand the reach of their music through traditional industry channels, they are grateful for the opportunities they continue to have and the doors that keep opening toward their ultimate goal of reaching the most people possible with their unique brand of Northwest Country Music.