BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When the Stacy Mitchhart Band takes the stage, its fans know to expect more than just the blues.
“We want to entertain our folks,” said Mitchhart, explaining that with sax, trumpet, keyboard, bass and guitar players, the five-piece band covers many regional styles, including Kansas City piano-heavy numbers, smooth West Coast sounds, a guitar-focused Texas style, and the well-known sounds of Detroit and Chicago.
“We encompass all that and throw in some rhythm and blues, Chicago or Allman Brothers,” he said. “We don’t speak to the blues like we can only do it one way. We’re out to entertain and have fun.”
The Stacy Mitchhart Band will stop at the Bunker Bar, 1950 S. Eber Rd. in Holland, on Thursday, December 8 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. for a fundraiser organized by Mike Mock and Brad Binkley to raise funds for Swanton High School’s girls sports programs.
“It’s a nice combo – we’ll raise money and have some fun,” Mock said. “Come have a drink and enjoy the music and support the girls.”
Since moving to Swanton 24 years ago, Mock got to know the coaching staff at the high school and saw the need to support girls basketball, soccer, softball and other programs. After hearing Mitchhart’s band and getting introduced to the Cincinnati native, Mock asked whether the band would be interested in stopping by on its way to play in Ontario.
With donations from Scott Dell Manufacturing and several individuals, Mock covered the cost of the band and hotel, so all the $10.00 entry fees and a portion of the drink sales will go toward the athletic programs. Wes Frazier, owner of the Bunker Bar, donated use of the venue, which can seat up to 350.
Getting Mitchhart to the Toledo area is rare, as the band only plays on the road about 50 days a year and is the house band for Nashville’s Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in historic Printer’s Alley.
The band’s latest release is aptly named Printer’s Alley and contains just one cover song. The rest were written by Mitchhart, who finds inspiration everywhere – hearing a drum machine beat, listening to songs or getting a new guitar. He even woke up from a dream of a song that he later wrote. Over the past few years, he’s been collaborating with others on writing.
“Getting a new guitar always sparks the creative juices,” he said. “It’s like a kid getting a new toy – all I want to do is play it.”
After growing up in the Cincinnati area, Mitchhart headed to Bowling Green State University to study business, but was frustrated at the focus on preparing students for corporate careers. He wanted classes geared toward managing his own career or that of other artists, so the dean told him to major in interpersonal communications and take business courses as electives.
While in college, Mitchhart was part of an acoustic duo playing several nights a week at the Holiday Inn lounge in Bowling Green. Just two classes short of graduation – he was struggling with Spanish – Mitchhart decided to hit the road.
“I had in my mind that I wanted to get out. I was not hanging around to pass two classes,” he said.
As a fan of horn bands like Tower of Power; Earth, Wind and Fire; Chicago; and Blood, Sweat and Tears, Mitchhart formed a band with a sax and trumpet player and began playing and recording. In 1996, he moved to Nashville.
“Nashville is very unique for musicians,” he said, explaining that even playing in the same venue several nights a week, he rarely sees the same faces because tourists, business contingents and weekend visitors are among the audience members.
“People come specifically to see live music and specifically to see us,” he said.
As the band has ventured to other cities, including Cleveland and other sports towns, he found that multi-night gigs yield fresh crops of new fans each night. He’s confident that his visit to the Bunker Bar will expand his fan base in the Toledo area.
Mitchhart is the lead vocalist on guitar and is joined by Darin “D-Rock” James on drums, Michael Dearing on bass and vocals, Jules Caldarera on sax and vocals and Corey Distefano on trumpet, keyboard and vocals.