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