Sawyer Brown was one of the most popular country groups of the ’80s and ’90s, charting such country No. 1s as “Step That Step,” “Some Girls Do” and “Thank God for You” — and now, it’s getting a Blake Shelton-produced documentary.
As the band turns 40, the country star looks at Sawyer Brown’s compelling story in Get Me to the Stage on Time, a documentary Shelton executive produced that examines how the group left its mark on country music, despite reservations by the genre’s gatekeepers. Shelton has long professed his love for the band, noting the first concert he ever attended was by Sawyer Brown, and among the first singles he purchased was the group’s cover of George Jones’ “The Race Is On.”
The Joel Kraus/Madison Miller-directed movie, which will debut Oct. 1 at the Nashville Film Festival in Franklin, Tenn., features interviews with Shelton, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley and Mac McAnally, among others. As the title suggests, it also reflects on Sawyer Brown Band’s propulsive live performances, led by frontman Mark Miller.
“It’s pretty surreal to watch your life and memories and music play out in a film, but Get Me to the Stage On Time does an amazing job of capturing what this ride has been like,” Miller says in a statement to Billboard. “I think the film shows not only what it took to get our career going, but also what it took to keep the wheels from coming off a couple of times. It also shows why it means so much to us to be where we are now, still playing shows, with new music on the horizon. It’s a look at what it means to never give up, no matter what.”
The ACM Award-winning vocal group of the year’s journey started with winning Star Search in 1983, in an era before television talent competitions such as American Idol and The Voice became commonplace launching pads for country stars such as Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery. Though a fan favorite renowned for its live shows, even after a slew of hits, Sawyer Brown remained a polarizing force in Nashville and at country radio with some put off by their non-traditional, colorful presence.
In the trailer — which Billboard is premiering above — the band recounts being turned down by every label in Nashville before storming the Star Search stage with its high-octane performances. Even after winning and signing with a Nashville label and experiencing multiple hits, “the industry couldn’t really figure out why are these guys still here,” says Sawyer Brown keyboardist Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard. But the audience understood as the group played up to 250 concerts a year, entertaining fans with its vastly energetic show. The documentary attempts to answer “how a band turned 15 minutes of fame into 40 years.” For Miller, it simply boils down to “when you get us in front of a live audience, we win.”
Following the documentary’s premiere, Sawyer Brown, who are working on a new album produced by Shelton, will perform at the Franklin Theater. Distribution plans for the film are still pending.
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