South Florida roots music band, The Copper Tones serve up their own recipe of soul, rock, and Americana, even coining their own moniker; Soulgrass.
Stefanie Smerkers; Vox, Guitar, Banjolele, Upright Bass, Dyllan Thieme; Vox, Upright Bass, Mandolin, Guitar, Andy Annoied; Drums, and Danny Gootner; Guitar, Ukulele, Dobro, Harmonica, have gained recognition both nationally and internationally. They have ben named Fort Lauderdale Magazine’s Best Live Act of 2017; named one of Shutter 16 Magazine’s Top 15 Breakout Artists of 2018; and completed three US Tours, and one to Germany.
Dyllan gave some insight into how the band got together, “Stefanie and I have known each other since middle school but we never wrote songs together until a few years ago. We were both tired with each of our own musical projects at the time and decided to start working together.” They soon added Andy on drums, and performed as a trio for about a year. They met Dan outside of a bar in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. He grew up in a musical family where all five family members played an instrument. “My early childhood was spent watching my father play the dulcimer, or my mother sitting at the piano. And they were always playing records: Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, Boston, Steve Earle, The Beatles, the list goes on. By the time I finally picked up a guitar at 15, I already knew I wanted to be like those artists,” Dan recalled.
Stefanie sites the band Shovels and Rope as one of their biggest influences. “We listen to them a lot and feel like they are one of the truest roots artists out there as far as today’s landscape goes.”
“I don’t know if our approach is anything predetermined that we chose,” Dyllan added. “The inspiration for a song comes to me sometimes in 15-20 minutes, and I just write it all out; Usually with the help of a drink or two,” he quipped.
“I think our style is very eclectic,” Stefanie said. “Like Dyllan said, our songs come very fast, but once he or I have the chords and lyrics, and we bring it to the band, all four of us hash it out. At that point, you’ve got a punk rock drummer in Andy, and a blues rock guitarist in Dan, so all of these things mix into the pot for the finished product. It may start off in our folk Americana way, but end up somewhere just off that mark.”
The band performs predominantly original material, with a few covers mixed in for variety, but the main focus is on originals and getting their music heard. Stefanie and Dyllan usually bring a song idea to the band when it is mostly completed, and then all four hash it out until they are really happy with the structure and flow of it.
Andy said he believes the band’s name, The Copper Tones, reflects the heart of their music. “Stefanie has a pretty soulful voice and we are influenced by a lot of bluegrass as well. We’re not all the way bluegrass, or all Americana, or folk for that matter. So Soulgrass is what you get when you hear The Copper Tones take those styles and still add some rock n roll to it as well.”
The band’s debut, self titled album, The Copper Tones, was released several years ago and it’s available on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and for purchase on their website. In the last year though, they released two singles. The first, a song called “Home,” about their love for Florida being home. “We did this song in collaboration with Bangin’ Banjo Brewing Company out of Pompano Beach” Daniel said. “They did a special release beer called Home, in conjunction with our song. We had an event at the brewery for the bottle release and our single release. It was a great collaboration. Power Station Studios, also based in Pompano Beach, was part of the collaboration as well. We are lucky in that we get to record all of our music there.”
The second single was released last November called, “Big Sugar, Big Change”. It is also a song about Florida, but speaks about a topic even more dear to the band. “For years now, the waterways of our home have taken a serious hit from pollution and algae blooms, resulting from what we believe are questionable agricultural practices, so we felt compelled to write a song about the issue and try to spread the word.” They released a music video for this song as well, and worked with a non-profit called Bull Sugar, to obtain some of the algae footage in the video.
Stefanie said the band’s two biggest goals at the moment are: “finishing our second album, and scheduling more tours. We just want to play as many places as possible, and spread our music to as many folks around the world as we can.”