Not every band is capable of producing powerful music, the kind that brings old souls to tears and young ones to their feet. But the Shoemaker Brothers, four siblings from Shelton, Washington, are not only capable of producing it—it is their only product. Theirs is the kind of music that evokes emotion; many an audience has fallen in love with their passion for and their commitment to their art. Their soulful sound is founded on classical strings and cultivated by American folk but grounded in a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility that keeps it fresh. The Brothers’ warm, homegrown vocals showcase lyrics that deal with issues that touch many American lives. In early January, they released a self-titled album before embarking upon a tour that will take them to the nation’s four corners.
Consisting of Samuel on the violin, Nathanael on the cello, Daniel on the viola, and Gabriel on the violin, the Brothers grew up as four of seven children—all of whom began their musical education at a very young age. Growing up, they performed as the “Shoemaker Family Singers,” along with their parents (the running joke is that their mother had aspirations of creating her own Von Trapp family). Apart from coming together for the occasional Shoemaker Family Christmas album, the Brothers largely pursued their musical endeavors independently. Nathanael wrote “Never Forget” for their oldest brother’s wedding, where he performed it with Samuel accompanying on the violin. The seed had been planted. The Brothers made the decision to officially come together in their current incarnation in December 2007.
When asked to cite their influences, they often bombard their interviewer with a stream of seemingly incongruent artists. They will certainly mention their immense respect and love of classical composers, such as Bach and Chopin, but are quick to make sure that they will not be limited to just these two. Their influences run from Creedence Clearwater Revival to John Legend, from the Rolling Stones to Dave Matthews, from Ray LaMontagne to Metallica. Please don’t make the mistake of trying to pigeonhole them—they simply won’t stand for it. It should be mentioned that in addition to their classical instruments, most of their shows feature the Brothers’ talent on the acoustic guitar, mandolin, Djembe, drum kit, and electric bass.
The Brothers went on their first tour during the summer of 2008, cruising down the Oregon Coast and through Napa Valley—playing music, making connections, and polishing their act. This past November they decided to make their music a full-time career. At the beginning of January they released their most recent, self-titled album while simultaneously beginning their first national tour. Thus far, they have traveled all around the country and have performed everywhere from Seattle to Boise, from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles, from Austin to New York City. They recently began the summer leg of their tour, which will keep them on the West Coast--traveling through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.