Music fans in the Boston and South Shore areas are well acquainted with the cachet associated with winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, since this region annually sends down outstanding performers in that genre, and Norwell’s Susan Tedeschi got her first big national exposure after her band finished second in 1994. Boston’s Michelle Willson and Evil Gal won in ’93, and the past decade has seen groups like the Matt Stubbs Band and the Chris Fitz Band make their own big splashes while representing The Hub.
So, pointing out that Trampled Under Foot is the group that won the IBC in 2008 should tell music fans that the Kansas City, Missouri quartet is the real thing. But don’t take our word for it, consider the Blues Music Award the band just received for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, for their CD, “Badlands.”
Coincidentally, that album, which came out in July 2013, is also their major label debut, on Telarc Records, after releasing four full albums and two EPs on their own imprint. “Badlands” also achieved a neat trifecta, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon blues charts.
Trampled Under Foot will be performing at the Narrows Center in Fall River tonight and then they’ll be swinging back to the area to headline the North River Blues Festival at the Marshfield Fair on Aug. 24.
Trampled Under Foot had its origins years ago, when the band’s principal members were growing up with a father, Bob Schnebelen, who played in one of Kansas City’s best and busiest blues bands. Guitarist Nick Schnebelen (who won the Albert King Most Promising Guitarist Award at that 2008 IBC) and his sister, singer Danielle Schnebelen (voted Best Bassist in those latest Blues Music Awards), pursued their own separate projects for a while, but by 2006 they were playing together, along with their brother, drummer Kris Schnebelen. In the studio, the family trio was usually augmented by keyboardist Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic, and other guests.
The new record features Mike Finnigan on keyboards, and a guest spot from guitar ace Johnny Schell. Kris Schnebelen has stepped away from the constant touring, so Jan Faircloth has now taken over the drum chair, and Sedovic is back on keyboards. But the core of the band’s music is still Danielle and Nick, alternating lead vocals, and also both contributing original songs.
“We’re very fortunate to be going up to New England a lot this year,” said Danielle Schnebelen from her Kansas City home last week. “That’s one area we hadn’t been able to play in much – last year we played the Bull Run (in Shirley) which was our first time in New England. I can remember seeing Susan Tedeschi at the Dinosaur BBQ, when that IBC she’d been in really helped break her out nationally – everybody in our local music scene was there.
“The IBC definitely helped us, and now the last album has been another big step up,” said Danielle. “Our previous two records (including 2011′s “Wrong Side of the Blues”) were on Vizztone, but this is our first full-label release. It has helped get us in front of people who never heard us before, and really helped broaden our fan base.
“We’ve been touring Europe pretty regularly since 2008, and that’s become an even stronger market for us.”
Those Blues Music awards were a particular thrill, not least because Danielle is relatively new to the bass, picking it up around ’06, simply because one brother played guitar and the other drums, and their potential family trio needed a bassist.
“We were told I had been the first female ever nominated for the Best Bassist award back in 2012,” said Danielle. “That was enough of a thrill, coming off the ‘Wrong Side of the Blues’ album, and it created a little buzz for us. When I was nominated again this year, I never really expected to win it. There were some well-seasoned veterans in that category … versus me? I was shocked to actually win, but it is deeply satisfying, and I am proud to be the first woman to ever get that trophy.”
One cool byproduct of their burgeoning profile is getting to meet some of their musical models. Keyboardist Sedovic lists his influences on the band’s website, including Marshfield’s own Anthony Geraci – who’ll also be on that North River Blues Festival bill with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones.
“It was really funny, when we went on this year’s blues cruise,” Danielle said, laughing. “Anthony Geraci came up and introduced himself to ‘Shinetop’ and said he’d read where he’d been an influence on him. It was so cute, and Mike was just flabbergasted.”
The brother-sister songwriting duo does not usually collaborate. Each writes their own songs, start to finish, and then generally sings them. Some of the standout songs on the latest CD include the lost love song “Bad Bad Feeling,′ the funky, upbeat “Dark of the Night,” and Danielle’s wrenching, Tedeschi-level cathartic ballad, “You Never Really Loved Me.”
“Basically, as a bass player, I’m most concerned with rhythm and the foundation of the song,” she said. “The groove is the most important thing I’m trying to establish. Then I want my words to tell a story, or say something. You can say a lot with just words, but to speak and make it work musically is another thing.”
The only cover on the baker’s dozen of cuts on the latest album is a notable one, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” sung passionately by Danielle.
“I had done it once at a Diva Festival, where the idea was women’s songs only. I had always loved the Etta James version of that song, so it was easy enough to pull off that first night. But then the response we got – within six months so many people requested it every night, we decided to record it. I think it’s still a pretty cool song, and we do it now, pretty much every night,” she said.
TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT – The Next Great Family Band
The Allman Brothers of Macon, Georgia; North Mississippi Allstars of Memphis, Tennessee… great blues-based Family bands who generated such intense love, pride and excitement in their regional fans that they were propelled to a worldwide stage. Now it’s time to add one more name to that short list: the Schnebelen family of Kansas City, Missouri – TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT.
Siblings Danielle, Kris and Nick Schnebelen grew up with the Blues. Their parents, Bob and Lisa, were active in the thriving Kansas City Blues scene, playing in local bands and competing in the Kansas City Blues Challenge. Bob and Lisa’s band didn’t make it to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis — but their kids did. When TUF arrived in Memphis for the 2008 IBC they were followed by huge, wildly enthusiastic throngs of hometown supporters, eager to cheer for their favorite musical family. And when TUF took First Place in the competition and Nick won the Albert King guitarist award, it was a sweet victory for the Schnebelen family and for Kansas City itself. TUF has been on a roll ever since, becoming popular repeat headliners at clubs, festivals and cruises around the world and releasing CDs and a DVD on their own label.
Trampled Under Foot’s brand new CD, Wrong Side of the Blues was produced by Tony Braunagel, and features guest appearances by Mike Finnigan, Kim Wilson, and engineer/guitarist Johnny Lee Schell. It also features one of their dad’s songs, and backup vocals by their mom. In the future, when people speak of the great Blues dynasties, musical families who breathed the same musical air and produced the highest form of the art, chances are they’ll refer to the Allmans, the Dickinsons, the Burnsides, the Brookses, the Neals… and the Schnebelens.
Trampled Under Foot, the Kansas City-based three-piece sibling band with an IBC win and three Blues Music Awards under their belt, has announced major lineup changes effective immediately. Drummer Kris Schnebelen, brother to lead singer/bassist Danielle and guitarist Nick, has departed the band “to pursue other interests and take a much-needed break from life on the road,” according to TUF’s official press release. Kris’ last performance with the band was on last week’s Blues Cruise. He will continue to play drums in other projects.
Additionally, the band will be adding a keyboardist, Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic, and Kris’ position will be filled by Jan Faircloth of the popular Kansas City band, Levee Town.
From the band’s website:
Trampled Under Foot is excited to introduce a couple of new faces to the band in 2014. It is with mixed emotion that TUF announce original drummer (and brother to Nick & Danielle), Kris Schnebelen has decided to take 2014 off to pursue other interests and take a much-needed break from life on the road. His replacement, Jan Faircloth is no stranger to the Kansas City blues scene though. As co-founder of the popular KC blues-rock outfit Levee Town, Jan brings years of experience to the TUF family.
The other new member of TUF should be no stranger to fans. After years of playing with the band as a special guest, Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic will join TUF on the keyboard. The addition of Shinetop will add a new dimension to the already stellar live performance TUF has become known for.
Reportedly, both Nick and Danielle Schnebelen are pursuing respective side projects. Danielle, new drummer Jan, Mike Sedovic, and Brandon Miller will be involved in the “Danielle Nicole Band”, and reportedly, Danielle will also be involved in a duo creating all original songs.
Trampled Under Foot is more than just a Kansas City, Mo., blues-rock band. The three musicians are also family members – two brothers and a sister.
Danielle Schnebelen sings lead and plays bass, while her older brothers are guitarist and singer Nick Schnebelen and drummer Kris Schnebelen. The threesome are touring to promote a debut major label album, Badlands, released July 9 on Concord/ Telarc Records.
“We grew up in a family of musicians,” Danielle Schnebelen says. “Our dad was a great blues guitarist and played in bar bands, and our mother, Lisa Swedelund, was a singer. Plus our grandmother, Evelyn Skinner, was a big-band singer. We three kids played in different bands for years and finally decided to see if we could work together, and in 2008, we were ready to see how we measured up.
“So we went to Memphis for the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge, and we not only won first place, but Nick won their Albert King Award for best guitarist. That got us motivated, for sure.”
The band self-released several albums before the Concord/Telarc deal and headed to California to record it with producer Tony Braunagel, the drummer in the Phantom Blues Band. Badlands features guest spots by noted keyboardist Mike Finnegan, whose resume includes work with Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt and Etta James. Acoustic guitarist Johnny Lee Schell (Raitt) plays on one track and Swedelund supplies some backing vocals.
The band chose their new album’s name after their drive to the West Coast, when they checked out portions of former Route 66.
“It was too cold in April to go see the Badlands in South Dakota, so we went through Arizona’s, and saw some very desolate places around Winslow and Flagstaff and the Petrified Forest,” Danielle Schnebelen said. “The album includes a dozen original songs plus one cover song, which we had not intended to include, until our fans sort of insisted on it.”
She refers to the closing song on the album, James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” which she chose after hearing it by James, one of her idols.
“We had never recorded a cover song before, but after we had decided to learn it and sing it, we saw that fans who would come to our shows would go to the merchandise folks and ask for something with that song on it, and then walk away when they were told there wasn’t any such recording,” she says, “so we thought maybe we had better give the fans what they wanted.”
One of the peculiar parts of the family trio is that two thirds of them are left-handed, which sometimes causes talk among fans, some of whom might draw comparisons with what a band might have looked like if such prominent southpaws as Hendrix and Paul McCartney had been together in a band – and, of course, if one of them had been a woman.
Schnebelen said it took a while for her brother to get his hands on a left-handed Gibson ES-335. For years he was rebuffed when he asked the company to make him one, she says.
“When he won the Albert King Award, suddenly they were presenting him with one,” she says with a laugh.
Trampled Under Foot
Opening act: Bryant Carter 9 p.m. Friday, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock Admission: $10 (501) 372-7707 stickyz.com
Weekend, Pages 34 on 08/15/2013
Print Headline: Trampled Under Foot keeps it all in the family