July 16, 2007

White Horses: band with local ties puts its own spin on popular songs

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

After taking two decades off to raise a family, Lester Prairie resident Sandie Adams is back on stage singing her favorite songs.

The veteran singer and entertainer fronted several bands in the past, and in 2006, she put together a new group of talented musicians to perform the music she loves.

She advertised on Craig’s List and other places, and found five musicians who shared her vision.

The result, White Horses, is not a band that is out to change the world; its mission is to give people what they want in ample doses.

Adams describes the group as “an entertaining show band playing songs that everyone knows.”

The band’s first public performance took place at one of Lester Prairie’s “Music in the Park” events in August.

Since then, White Horses has developed a following, playing at several local venues, including Scooters in Lester Prairie, and Ernie’s Bar and Grill in Winsted.

Adams is quick to point out that the band’s appeal is no longer limited to local fans. It has gone international, after four visitors from Brazil attended one of their recent performances.

Adams said Ernie’s Bar and Grill owner, Ernie Meyer, agreed to let them perform without having heard them play before.

One set was all it took for Meyer to become a believer.

“He came up to us during our first break and said he was ready to book us for future dates,” Adams commented.

“They are an excellent band,” Meyer said. “My customers love them, and people keep asking me to bring them back.”

“Of course, Sandie is crazy. But that suits me because I am kind of crazy, too,” Meyer joked.

He told the story of a night when Adams was in the bar listening to another band.

People asked her to get up on the bar and sing a song or two, and before long, someone handed her a wireless microphone and she was up on the bar belting out a tune.

Meet the Horses

Adams is the band’s lead singer and manager.

The other members of the band reside in various cities around the metro area. They are Mike Czora (lead guitar and vocals), Johnny G (drums and percussion), Stubby Phillips (keyboard, sax, and vocals), Bruce St. Paul (bass and vocals), and Nate Douglas (rhythm guitar).

The band members come from different backgrounds and have played many different styles of music, but they share the goals of having fun and entertaining people.

“It is a good family relationship,” Adams said.

The group describes itself as “a band of free spirits who have never been completely tamed.”

Band members enjoy working together and playing popular music.

“We are able to have fun on stage, and the audience picks up on this,” Adams commented.

“This is not a ‘sit and listen’ band. We want people to be able to participate,” she added.

Czora agreed.

“Some bands build a wall between them and their audience. We are constantly breaking down that wall,” he said.

It is not only OK to sing along, this band encourages it.

Adams said they sometimes give out T-shirts to the first couple dancing, as a way to encourage people to get out on the dance floor.

“Sometimes, we have even had two guys out there dancing together if they really wanted the T-shirts,” Adams laughed.

All of the members like to connect with the audience. Adams, in particular, likes to work the crowd and will frequently leave the stage and move among the patrons during a set.

The band has employed other means, such as a Halloween costume party, to add some fun and allow people to become participants, rather than observers, at their shows.

Band has developed an eclectic song list

The music White Horses plays cannot be corralled into a single category.

If you get a chance to attend one of their performances, do not expect to hear a bunch of angst-ridden ballads.

White Horses is a band with a beat that comes ready to rock out on songs you already know, and the goal is to have some fun.

The band’s commitment to popular songs helps people to become involved in their shows.

“Dancers don’t like surprises. It is tough to dance to songs you haven’t heard before,” Czora commented.

The band plays a three set show that has something for everyone, according to Czora.

The first set includes some golden oldies.

In the second set, they slip in some contemporary country.

Audience members who stick around for the third set will be treated to some flat-out rockers.

Classic rock and blues standards are also mixed in throughout the show.

Adams said the band’s target audience is “people from 18 to 80,” and they try to include something for everyone.

There is no set process for adding new songs to the White Horses’ lineup.

Band members may hear a song on the jukebox during a break, or catch a tune on the radio that they think might be a good fit for the band.

Adams said some new songs come out of their lively Tuesday night rehearsals, which often showcase the varied musical backgrounds of the group.

Any of the Horses can suggest a new song, but anyone who makes a recommendation better be prepared to sing it, according to Adams.

Adding new tunes is a collaborative effort, and all band members have a veto.

“No one has to play any song they don’t like,” Czora said.

He has written some original songs for the band, but all tunes whether they are originals or covers, must fit the criteria. They must be fun, and they need to have a beat that people can dance to.

Sometimes, the biggest challenge is finding a slot in the set list to add new material, Czora said.

He explained that the band tries to maintain variety, and sometimes has to replace one song with another to get the mix they want.

What’s next?

The band plans to record a demo CD in August, which will allow them to give club owners a sample of their music.

Adams and Czora said they hope this will generate more bookings in new venues.

Their goal is to play two weekends each month, which will allow band members to balance their music with family and other commitments.

The band also hopes to add more community festivals, and maybe even the state fair, to its calendar in the future.

As White Horses approaches its first anniversary, the band is enjoying the present, and looking forward to riding its winning brand of entertainment into a bright future.

Want to follow the White Horses herd?

The White Horses band is booking dates all around the area. Upcoming performances include:

• Friday, July 27 Ernie’s Bar in Winsted (Shelly Wagner benefit) 9 p.m. to midnight.

• Saturday, July 28, Ernie’s Bar and Grill in Winsted. 9 p.m. to a.m.

• Saturday, Aug. 18, Scooter’s in Lester Prairie, 9 pm. to 1 a.m.

For more information, visit www.whitehorsesband.com

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