Don Beaumont and Tuk'r Hill dare to dream. They dare to dream amid The Great Recession That Refuses to Die. They dare to dream amid double-digit unemployment. Amid the foreclosure crisis. Amid a dream-killer of an economy.
Amid Occupy This and Tea Party That. Amid some hard, hard times.
Remember the name. Tuk'r Hill. Four guys, three from North Port, the fourth from Port Charlotte. Dreamers. Yeah, they still exist. And if there's a shred of justice left in this world, this is one dream — a genuine, home-grown local dream — that happens.
We kind of need it to happen. All of us. For something good and deserving to come out of this mess. Just because. And Tuk'r Hill is close. Very, very close.
The local boys are beginning to generate a quiet buzz. It's there. You just have to put your ear up close. And listen.
Founder Derrick Walters of North Port put together a three-piece about two years ago. He called it Tuk'r Hill. Doesn't mean anything. "It was kind of random," Beaumont says. "Derrick came up with it. It's kind of catchy. He wanted it to be a little different."
The band grew to a four-piece when Beaumont joined this past September. "It took a while to find the guys to make it happen," Beaumont says. "It wasn't just ‘hey gang, let's form a band' and see what happens." Which is pretty much how it normally works. The results are seldom good. Or permanent.
But Walters' patience paid off. With Walters and Beaumont on guitar, North Port's Jim Foster on bass and Port Charlotte's John Santiago on drums, they found their "something different." It doesn't come with a label. Part country, part acoustic rock, part something in between. They're not entirely sure what it is.
"We call it Americana," Beaumont says. "We have a little bit of difficulty labeling ourselves. We have a wide range of influences. Everyone from Crosby, Stills and Nash to the Beatles. Musically, we run all the way from straight country to straight-on rock, bluegrass, folk ... it kind of sounds a little like this and it kind of sounds a little like that."
Well, whatever it is, it works. Tight vocals blended with even tighter accompaniment make Tuk'er Hill the best band you've likely never heard of. Yet.
And for a reason. You won't find them on the club or bar circuit. Bar gigs mean covers. A drunk slipping five bucks into the tip jar for a few riffs of Muskrat Love. No thanks. Tuk'er Hill is all originals. Lots and lots of originals.
"We learned that if you start out being a local sensation it's hard to break out of that mold. Yeah, we probably suffer from not playing five or six bar dates a week, but we're more able to get serious attention because we haven't cast ourselves into the role of being a cover band," Beaumont says.
Nobody will ever confuse North Port with Nashville when it comes to music. And pre-World Wide Web, this would have been an issue. But Beaumont, who handles marketing for a Charlotte County firm during the day, brings more than vocal and guitar chops to the band. He knows how to promote and sell. And there's also that Internet thing. He works it. Hard. "Today, you can identify and locate people in the industry and reach out and deal with them," he says.
"You don't get to dance with the pretty girl unless you ask," he says. He's asking. "I'm in the midst of talks with people who have ability to open doors for us to do an American tour and even beyond," says the guy who pre-http would order Los Angeles phone books and use them to make cold calls. "We're starting to get attention."
Earlier this week, Beaumont did a live phone hook-up with a Denver country-western station, one of the genre's top four in the nation. The station has been promoting the band hard. Why? Beaumont went online and asked the pretty girl to dance. She liked what she heard. It's how it works. Just ask the Beatles. One station, then another, then it's "where did these guys come from?" Takes time, however.
While waiting for the dream, the focus is on putting together a tour that "makes sense" and spending hours in their Charlotte County studio where the band is working on its second self produced album. "We have enough material to lock ourselves up and go straight to three and four," Beaumont says.
But dreams take time. And work. And in the music biz, experience counts if you want to come out alive. "With each band we played in over the years we picked up knowledge. We were getting wiser and better. It's like aiming for a point on the horizon," he says. "It takes time to learn how to create the process. Maybe it does take 40 years to figure it out."
Tuk'er Hill has it figured out. The sound and the music are solid. And people are beginning to notice there's something happening here in Charlotte County.
Don Beaumont and Tuk'r Hill dare to dream. Feel free to share the dream with them. They're in short supply these days.
And maybe, if you work at it and ask the pretty girl to dance, you'll dare to find one of your own.
(Take a listen at http://tukrhill.com )
Gary Dutery is a Sun columnist. A veteran journalist, he resides in Port Charlotte. Readers may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .