by Dan Holland
For Broadview Heights resident and country music fan Emily Bates, an opportunity for her band, The Shootouts, to play at the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee this year is a dream come true.
“We’re incredibly excited,” said Bates. “I think any musician of any genre would be appreciative of the opportunity. But for anyone who plays country music and gets this opportunity; it’s the pinnacle.”
The Akron-based band features Ryan Humbert on guitar and lead vocals, Bates on backing vocals, Brian Poston on lead guitar and Kevin McManus on bass and backing vocals. The band welcomed drummer Mark Butto for its first gig of the new year in late January. The group’s style can be described as a blend of traditional country music, Western swing, Americana and Honky Tonk.
The Shootouts, who were a featured headlining act at Broadview Heights Home Days last summer, will embark on their Stampede Tour in mid-February that includes show dates all through the American Southeast followed by shows in the Midwest into late-May. The highlight of the tour occurs Feb. 24 with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, which will coincide with the release of their new album “Stampede.” An Ohio release party and performance is scheduled for March 18 at Lions Lincoln Theatre in Massillon.
The band, which was founded in 2015, came to fruition when Humbert asked Bates to sing with them at his grandfather’s 85th birthday party in 2016. The two had sung together in various music projects over the years.
“They had asked the band to play, and Ryan asked me to join in with them,” Bates explained. “We played the first song, and I looked at Ryan and said, ‘I get it.’ And we just knew that was it, and off we went.”
The band members’ musical tastes and influences can be heard in all three of their albums, beginning with their 2019 debut release “Quick Draw.” Their subsequent 2021 release “Bullseye” made it to #1 on the Alternative Country Specialty chart and #6 on the Americana Music Association album chart.
“I grew up listening to a lot of 90s country music,” said Bates, who is a big fan of singer Dolly Parton. “Ryan and Brian both grew up listening to a lot of country music, and they really enjoyed the classics: Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and others. There’s a little bit of those influences in our music, but we’re all over the map with our different styles. We play Western swing, Bakersfield, Nashville and all the various types of country music with our own spin on all of it.”
The upcoming tour will be the band’s most ambitious undertaking to date.
“I feel like we’re a tight-knit family, and we love traveling together,” Bates continued. “We get to see a lot of new places and meet a lot of folks. It’s fun to hear people tell us about other music artists that we remind them of.”
The band’s latest album was produced by Ray Benson, longtime frontman for the Western swing group Asleep at the Wheel. Other well-known country music artists such as Marty Stuart, Raul Malo of The Mavericks and Buddy Miller all made guest appearances on the album. The album also includes a cover of the Michael Stanley Band’s “I’ll Never Need Anyone More.”
“We had quite the lineup of guest stars and folks who helped us out on this album, which takes it up to the next level,” said Bates. “With having someone like Ray Benson; he just pushed us to do more than we thought we could and work that much harder. I feel like there’s been a progression in how well we’ve been able to play the music and put it forward.”
Live performance highlights have included working with and opening for well-known artists such as Asleep at the Wheel, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chris Isaak, Charley Crockett, Dale Watson and others.
“Getting to play with them and getting to know them has been wonderful,” said Bates. “People will often say, ‘Don’t meet your idols; it will ruin it,’ but it couldn’t be more the opposite. These artists are so kind and gracious and have been wonderful to us. I think Ray Benson’s goal is to pass the baton and bring along the next generation to make sure this style of music gets passed on.”
“Our hope is to continue to grow and be able tour more and keep pushing forward,” Bates added. “Getting to play the Opry is an amazing opportunity, and we hope that is the beginning of the next level of our journey.”
For information on the band, visit shootoutsmusic.com. ∞