The Springs: Country Music’s Next Big Thing

The Springs

Question: What country band has opened for acts from Alan Jackson to Point of Grace to Kid Rock before its members have even been old enough to drink?

Answer: There’s probably only one, and that’s The Springs. This five-piece band from Alabama started playing live before its members were even all out of school, and has released two CDs while maintaining a schedule that sees them routinely playing over 200 nights a year, from working a residency at Nashville’s Cadillac Ranch to traveling throughout the Southeast. This type of schedule would be too much for a lot of musicians, especially younger ones who might prefer to spend their late adolescence and early 20s doing, well, doing what young men do. But not these guys. 

The Springs have had several radio releases, with three charting on the main Music Row Country chart, two of them placing high on the main New Music Weekly chart, and one spending an entire year on the CMA top 100 chart in Europe. And even though they aren’t a Christian act per se, five of the band’s releases have gone to #1 on at least two Christian country music charts. In addition, the band’s first CD, Teens on a Mission, was placed in some Wal-Mart stores, a major feat for an unsigned band.

 Besides the stars mentioned above, the group has opened for Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Houser and literally dozens of other major acts. And even though opening acts don’t always get to meet the headliners, front man Stewart Halcomb said the band has met most of the artists they’ve opened for.

 “We met most of them, and everybody been real nice, real encouraging,” he said. “They’ve pretty much always welcomed us and given us good advice.” Halcomb is the lead singer and main songwriter for The Springs, who while playing country music, pack the energy and drive of a show by the legends of rock into each performance.

The five band members now live together in one house in suburban Nashville, a situation that would kill many groups. But Halcomb said the band members live together not necessarily out of necessity, but because they truly are close and know that the constant rehearsal of a band that lives under one roof can only make them better.

In addition to energy, good songs and a true love of music, The Springs have something that is quite a rarity in country circles: a black drummer. Olajuwon Jackson, or “OJ” as the band calls him, can match the country groove of any of his contemporaries while propelling the band’s high-energy show. Studious looking with close-cropped hair, glasses and a conservative wardrobe, Jackson has actually encountered difficulty getting backstage to sit down at his kit.

“Sometimes we’ve actually had to tell people that he’s with us, that he’s the drummer and it’s okay to let him in,” Halcomb laughed. Other members of the band include Jon Saunders on guitar and vocals, Will Rhodes on guitar, and Steven Pettry on bass.

Halcomb said that he’s into all types of music, but country is definitely what he’s all about. “I’ve got a cousin who plays alternative rock, and another cousin who does techno and has opened for the Blue Man Group,” he said. “I just love all kinds of music as long as it’s good, but in my car 99% of the time it’s country. Lately it seems I’ve been listening to a lot of the older country just because those guys were so great.”

As the group’s main songwriter, Halcomb has done some co-writing since he’s moved to Nashville and plans to do more. He said, though, that with the band’s nonstop schedule that it’s hard to find the down time he needs for serious writing. “I have to admit I don’t spend as much time writing as I should,” he said, “because we work so much and I like to try to use my time off to rest my voice.”

Halcomb said that the band is focused and committed to success, and that while the lineup underwent a couple changes in the early days, the group is solid as a rock now and for the foreseeable future.  “We’re working hard, and we’re really fortunate that the people love what we’re doing,” he said. “And we’re really almost like brothers. We’re close to one another, and that’s something a lot of bands don’t have. They don’t have that camaraderie and chemistry on stage. And we don’t fight either.” 

With their talent, an unbeatable work ethic, and the energy and enthusiasm of youth, it seems likely that The Springs will achieve some major success on Music Row and beyond in the next few years.

By Rick Moore

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