The Peacemakers’ talent goes off like a smoking gun. The band has its audience hooked from the first beats. But, it’s the instantly recognizable “Free Bird” guitar solo that really gets them going. Many cover bands skip the intense section. But not The Peacemakers.
The band has played at Rail Ale Pub, O’Brien’s Irish Pub and The Pothole. But, even if its fans wanted to buy the guys a beer after the show, they couldn’t.
The four members are all still in high school.
“That surprises a lot of people,” lead vocalist Colton Conrad says. “I really love when people are blown away when they find out how old we are.”
The Peacemakers pride themselves on their Southern rock setlist. They’re trying to bring the old-style of country back. The members of Lynyrd Skynyrd are their rock gods.
“Today’s country is too pop,” guitarist Benjamin Luchka says.
The band formed just last year, but the idea has been three years in the making. Conrad and Luchka had been dreaming of putting together a group since their freshman year at Plant City High School.
“I could hardly play the guitar,” Luchka says. “Same with Colton — he was terrible. We were just in my room trying to play. We butchered ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’”
Downstairs, his mother put “Simple Man” on the radio.
When the boys heard that ballad, they knew they had to take the time to really learn their instruments. With the encouragement of Luchka’s neighbor, Peter Sundic, they started plucking at the strings. After mastering their playing techniques, the duo felt closer to their goal of having a band.
“The next thing that happened was Colton asked Jordan to join,” Luchka says. “He knew how to play guitar, so he picked up bass pretty easily.”
All three boys are cousins but were open to having a friend join the trio. Especially when they found out their classmate, Jesse Butterworth, played drums. He had a knack for jamming out on the “Rock Band” video game. When his mother saw the talent, she bought him his own set. Luchka aggressively recruited him to be in the band. Finally, he convinced Butterworth and had him audition.
“It just worked,” Jordan Gude says, snapping his fingers.
Now that they had a band, they needed a name. Conrad and Luchka discussed it between classes at their lockers. Conrad was a fan of the movie “Tombstone” and Wyatt Earp’s colt peacemaker.
Three weeks after Butterworth joined, The bandmates — with only eight songs in its catalog — took the stage for the first time. From there, they learned more and continued playing at private parties and talent shows. But this year, they have been booking more impressive gigs. They also have been writing their own songs.
“We’ve been brainstorming and putting music together, seeing what works,” Gude says. “(‘Ol’ Blue’) is the best song, because it wasn’t mainly this person or that person. It was a collective.”
“Ol’ Blue” is inspired by Jesse Carr’s truck. Carr is Conrad’s neighbor.
“He’s definitely helped me out a lot,” Conrad says. “Not just with music but everything. He’s a role model for me.”
Family members also have been big supporters of the band. Luchka’s older brother is musician Casey Stidham. They’ve named Butterworth’s mother the “Band Mom.” The Peacemakers practice in Butterworth’s garage.
“I just want to be inspiration for other bands,” Gude says. “To say we brought a lot of joy to people — that’d be enough for me.”
CATCH THEM LIVE
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Saturday April 26
WHERE: Uncle Mike’s Smokehouse, 106 E. S.R. 60, Plant City
BOOKING: Colton at (813) 767-8028, or Benjamin at (813) 752-6018.