No Rest for Country Music Newbies the Brian Randall Band

Brian Kniebes could stay at home on Saturday nights and fulfill his musical itch by playing Rock Band on XBox with his wife and three daughters.

However, the 31-year-old country music up-and-comer still insists on booking his weekends full with shows even as he tends to a full-time job and a bustling household that includes a 6-month-old infant.

"It's usually somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m.," Kniebes said when asked what time he gets home from gigs. "Most of the time, I just stay up. Our baby usually wakes up at about 3:30 a.m., so we get the feeding out of the way. There's no sense in sleeping for a half hour. Then, I'm usually up at around 7:30 or 8 a.m."

It's this workman's attitude and family dynamic that has made Kniebes — who goes by Brian Randall — a new face and breath of fresh air in the close-knit, West Michigan country scene.

Although hailing from Coloma, the Brian Randall Band spends a lot of its time in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Not uncommon to local country bands, the Brian Randall Band pays the bills by offering an extensive catalogue of country and southern rock covers. In that same show, Kniebes and his three accompanists — Mike Caron (lead guitar), Johnny Hamond (bass) and Travis Hanko (drums) — throw in originals found on the band's freshman album, Guys Night Out, which was released online in August and currently for sale as a hard copy.

Those originals offer a different perspective than what West Michigan gets from its country bands fronted by young, single guys and gals. Kniebes has played solo ever since finishing high school, uniting with a band just last year. His songs focus on life experiences, including living out west and working on a fishing boat.

The Brian Randall Band
Back Forty Saloon, Grand Rapids
Sept. 22, 9 p.m.
$3; (616) 742-4040

"I probably have a little more life experience than the average person who has been able to focus on music their whole lives," he said. "I've been focused on life and getting through it."

And, this over-worked, sleep-deprived frontman has clearly earned the respect of his new bandmates.

"He's probably more available (to play) than anyone — it's unbelievable," Hanko said. "It's pretty messed up. Here I am, single with nothing really to do and I get close to being burnt out and there he is wanting to practice twice a week and play twice a week."