La Grande band gains momentum

Steven K

LA GRANDE — After less than two years together, a country band based in La Grande is gaining some notable momentum.

Even though the members of Steven K and the Bounty Hunters all rely on other work for their incomes, co-frontman Steven Kidwell said that could change.

“Pretty soon, (playing music) will be turning into full-time work,” Kidwell said.

That’s due to a number of factors, he said.

“We’re pickin’ up more gigs, they’re larger gigs, we’re playing larger venues, two of our singles will be playing on the radio soon, and we have some music in some movies,” Kidwell said.

The Central Oregon native said he could not provide the names of the movies, because they are still in production, but did say one is a Western.

The group also includes Brandon Palmer as co-frontman and guitarist, James Franke as lead guitar, Earl Davis as bassist and Chuck C. Smith as drummer.

“We couldn’t do what we do without everybody,” Kidwell said. “We all put in an equal share of work, and every success and any blame (when there’s a mistake) is shared among everyone.”

The group is also working on its next full-length album, which is expected to be released at the end of September or early October.

The reason for the group’s success is likely the universal quality of the music it produces. For instance, Kidwell said the recent single “Memories from My Past,” appeals to everybody.

“That song’s about a man with a real hard life,” Kidwell said. “He’s sitting in a room, all torn up with a bottle of whisky in his hand, thinking about what’s gone wrong.”

Kidwell said the music video the band is working on to
accompany the song shows picture frames crumbling to ash as the man walks past them down the hallway. When the man decides to turn his life around, the pictures return to full color.

“We wrote that one for our fans and everybody out there,” Kidwell said. “A lot of people get to a point where they want to turn back time, but they don’t realize there’s still time to do what you want.”

In addition to that idea being relatable to the masses, Kidwell said “Memories from My Past” illustrates the band’s own journey. He said he thinks all of the members, not just him, were able to turn their lives into something they truly wanted as a result of forming Steven K and the Bounty Hunters.

Another advantage for the band is its tight-knit members. They spend a lot of time together, and so do their wives. Kidwell said the family camraderie of the members makes time spent on the road all the more enjoyable.

Steven K and the Bounty Hunters travel about once a week to shows in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla areas. Kidwell said the band would love to play more often in La Grande, because the community is extremely supportive of live music. Kidwell said he wishes La Grande had more venues that could support large music festivals.

Kidwell also said the band is gaining clout because of the members’ passion for music.

“Some bands, you can tell they’re doing it for a job. We still have an absolute blast,” he said.

A smaller version of the band — just three members — will perform at Riverside Park at 6 p.m. July 20 as part of the La Grande Parks and Recreation Department’s summer concert series.

Then, the full band will play for three straight days of music during the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo, July 27-29, at the Stubborn Mule, 104 S. Main St., Joseph.

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