Up the Creek, Down the Road
by Stephen Pitalo
Forming the band Lindley Creek back in 2002 in Southwest Missouri near Springfield, the four members of the Greer family decided to keep the operation simple, along with the name, but the last part proved to be a little tricky.
“There is an actual creek near home called Lindley Creek,” said Kathie Greer, wife and mother in the Greer family. “We wanted to pick a name that would associate us with this part of Missouri, never dreaming we would be a band that would travel so far from home! It was hard to imagine playing to an audience that hadn’t heard of our creek! We always wanted to be considered for our music more than the fact that we were a family band, so we have never gone by the Greer family, even though that’s our name….No, we are not the Lindley Family. But we do get called that a lot!”
“We come from the southwestern part of Missouri also known as the Ozark Mountains,” said Kathie. “The cultural heritage here is rich with artists and musicians stemming from years of subsistence living due to the poor quality of tillable land. In other words, the land wasn’t good for growing crops, so the people were poor and had to make their own entertainment for many generations. Our great grandfather played fiddle and guitar and loved to jig dance. He hosted many ‘music parties’ over the years near the Branson area. We grew up listening to country and bluegrass music and going to jam sessions where we were around other local musicians and their influence.”
The Greers — Katie Greer on lead vocals, harmony & mandolin; John Rob Greer on upright bass & vocals; Kathie on guitar as well as lead & harmony vocals; and son Jase Greer on fiddle, chin cello, and lead & harmony vocals — were big country music fans. The house was always full of music by the popular country stars of the day: George Strait, Reba, The Judds, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, and other early 90’s country music.
“When country music started changing, we decided to look for something different that would have more of a message we were comfortable with the kids hearing,” Kathie said. “That’s when we discovered the wonderful bluegrass community!”
Down on the farm is where much of the grit and grime of the Lindley Creek lyrical content stems from, not surprising since mom and dad grew up on family farms and met through Future Farmers of America.
“Before going full-time with our band, John Rob taught agriculture at the high school and college level. Farming is just part of who we are, and I think it is what keeps us grounded with some common sense from the practical side of the music business.”
Their latest album Freedom Love and the Open Road is Lindley Creek’s big leap into the country & bluegrass recording world, a move that was motivated by timing.
“Jase and Katie were becoming adults and wanted to continue to pursue music as a career,” Kathie explained. “We had been self-produced up to this point. It was hard to realize we couldn’t get any better on our own. We needed help. It can be really hard, to be honest about your own abilities, but we wanted to get better, so we had to look outside our family for the right producer.”
Before they went full-time with the band, they noticed the Carrie Hassler album, CHHR2.
“The record was getting lots of radio play, but more noticeable than that was the quality of the project. After doing some looking, we found out that Jim VanCleve had produced it. I even made the statement back then that Jim was my ‘dream producer!’ That was probably about eight years before we started recording with him. We weren’t ready then, but when we were, there was no question who we would use.”
Even though the songs feature some sweet harmonies, being in a band with family isn’t always harmonious! How does one keep a band going in the right direction when the members have a place in your life outside of music? Kathie said that it’s been quite a transition from a family band with young kids to a family band with adult kids.
“We don’t claim to have it all figured out!” Kathie laughed. “This is not an easy life, but it’s a good life! I think the thing that makes it work for us is that we are all going toward the same goal. We are all deeply in love with the music and just as much with entertaining. Our stage show is unique and to see our band live would answer a lot of those questions for you. We love each other. We love the music. We love the audience.”
“We put all the songs through this filter: Is the song real, current, and relatable to a regular person?” Kathie said of the process of elimination for the songs to make it onto this album. “We wanted our songs to stand out as being music people could connect with today, not years ago. So that means we did not look for anything that was based in historical time periods or made up murder ballads. We did not look for only positive message songs because that’s not real life either. If we did not connect with it on a personal level, we didn’t record it. This album’s goal was not to go for radio play primarily, although we are so thankful for the great success this year. The goal was simply to create music that connects.”